Infrastructure mag leads on Taiwan's customer-creating bikepaths

84-page second issue of Cyclingmobility magazine is a thought-provoking read for cycle activists, planners and the bike industry
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The second issue of the new quarterly magazine Cyclingmobility will be soon mailed to subscribers. The 84-page magazine's cover story is on the progress Taiwan has made from being the Bicycle Kingdom which makes bikes to an island that rides them, too.

The magazine was launched earlier this year and is published by a German company, edited by an Englishman and available worldwide.

It's a meaty read.

Mike Van Abel, executive director of the International Mountain Bicycling Association, talks about the creation of pumptracks and urban MTB trails. He said: "A lot of riders and park managers are learning that a lot of fun can be crammed into the space where weeds once sprouted on the tennis courts."

There's a major feature on Roger Geller, bicycle coordinator for the US city of Portland in Oregon. Geller admits Portland's famous bikepath network is just "OK" when compared to, say, the Netherlands but that he's now pushing on opening doors when it comes to cycling, because of the economic and health benefits of a fitter, more actively mobile population. 

"There is a very strong correlation between implementing a bike-lane network and increasing the number of riders," said Geller.

"Think about the Dutch principles for bikeway design: safety, comfort, attractiveness, the network must be direct and have high connectivity."

Geller said the city's entire cycle lane network - the best in America, a city where he said cycling was "skyrocketing" - would cost £42m to replace, or about the cost of building one mile of urban motorway.

Businesses are increasingly recognising that cyclists are not cheapskates: "Cyclists are not this scruffy lot who are unemployed and ride a bike because they can't afford to drive cars - not only do they have money in their pockets, often they have more money in their pockets than their friends who drive."

Portland will expand its population base by an extra 1 million more people in the next 20 years. "We cannot build a [transport] system which will accommodate them all," said Geller. 

"Our city traffic engineers and our politicians are recognising that we really can provide for increased mobility with the bicycle."

In a polemic following Geller's article, BikeBiz executive editor Carlton Reid said "the creation of dedicated infrastructure for cyclists is essential but it should be part of a wider programme to tame cars. Not every road needs a bike path, but every road needs slower, more carefully driven cars."

Further along in the magazine Reid pens an eight-page piece on Taiwan, the place where bikes are built but which is now building a bike to work culture, too.

For the piece Reid interviewed the ex-director general of Taipei City Transport (who cycles to work) and King Liu, president and founder of Giant. Bike maker Giant invests in cycle infrastructure and promotion projects in Taiwan, as does Merida. The companies invest in order to create more domestic customers.

King Liu started Giant - now the world's biggest maker of quality bikes - in 1972 after his fish-farm was destroyed by a typhoon. He has a customer-creation allegory: "It is more important to grow the fishes than to catch the fish."

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An article on how Omaha used private money to create a growing bikepath network shows that it's not always necessary to go cap in hand to Government. Corporations pump money into Omaha's bikepaths because a 2004 report showed that 60 percent of residents were obese: a fat community is an unhealthy community. The private sector was shown the "bankable benefits" of investing in active transportation.

Cyclingmobility's June issue also has a round-up of all the bike-sharing vendors across the world and a provocative piece on bicycle tyres which argues that, while the bicycle was "seemingly such an innocent part of late-Victorian pleasure and adventure" the exploitation of rubber to make tyres "played a darker role in late-nineteenth century colonialism."

Cyclingmobility is a subscription-only magazine and costs £79 a year. 

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