Whose sidewalk is it anyway?

The newly-paved sidewalks along Nanjing East Road and other major thoroughfares look great – a huge improvement over those cracked/missing red tiles.
But being a pedestrian (yeah, one of those irritating people who gets in the way of scooter riders motoring up and down the sidewalks) I have to ask myself who benefits from this?

As far as I can see:

  1. Roads are for vehicles to drive on.
  2. Sidewalks are for scooters to drive on while leaving or finding a parking space.
  3. The covered walkways along the shopfronts are for parking scooters under.

So scooter riders looking for a parking space get a smoother ride while they’re doing so.

Pedestrians are king, according to Ma Ying-jeou… Yeah, right.

I agree. Scooter riders should pick up their bikes and carry them to the roads.


they could walk their damn bike over to the road.

It’s a well known fact that the average lifespan for foreigner after arriving in Taiwan is about three years. Within that time, most are struck and killed by motor scooter riders.

Damn, I am way overdue. Ididn’t realize the sidewalks were THAT dangerous.

Even though I too have had to jump out of the way of many a scooter trying to park up, I am more scared of the rain! Hasn’t anyone in authority noticed that those beautiful marble types slaps (although are, as stated, beautiful) are a death trap when it rains! Considering that taipei is not a dry city you would think that this MIGHT have been considered when choosing the said slabs. Maybe they just think its funny when a foriegner, unaware of the danger is lying arse over tit on the floor. Even funnier just to watch and laugh, rather than help said female (Sex IS irrelevent, but damsel in distress and all!)

Yeah, the strip of pavement along Jenai and up to Tunhua and beyond is great for riding my bike on cause it’s sooooo smoooth…

But for crying out loud, what’s WITH tile in Taipei?

Taan Park is covered with them-the slick ones on the perimeter, the new pavements are tiled albeit a bit better than old ones, ALL the buildings are tile (which tend to pop off in earthquakes–beware of falling tiles!)

Back home pavements are smooth slabs of cement which look fine. Do they have some deal with tile manufacturers here in Taiwan? Even the new ones are already popping up in places so we STILL have to be careful how we step so that dirty water doesn’t fly up on our trousers!
I reckon those lousy scooters which i NEVER give way to when I’m pedestrianising, are the culprit of the already mucked up new tiles.

A brick without anchor is an unanchored brick. In laymen’s terms that means that the sidewalk tiles move and fall to pieces more quickly that the cement slabs you’re used to.

The logic behind the tiles is that if a root or other force starts pushing on a tile, it only moves the one tile. In laboratory experiments conducted at NTU from 1954-57, masonry experts concluded that applying pressure to one tile effected only one tile. The decision was made to lay the tiles far enough apart so that when one moved it wouldn’t ruin the whole sidewalk.

Millions of tiles were ordered from the KMT Tile Consortium and upon delivery, brick layers discovered a space with no grout is a space. Given the quality of Taiwan sandal manufacture at that time, a separate study concluded that 25,000 toes would be stubbed and broken each year as result of the space between the tiles. The gap concept to sidewalk tile laying was abandoned in favor of a haphazard “Lay’em where they lie” policy.

Moderate refinements through the years have displayed how masterful craftsmanship can outweigh ineptitude in government planning.

The KMT Tile Consortium???!!
You’re about to blow this tile conspiracy right out of the water! Alert the press!

There were known cases of tile assault in the legislative yuan back in the 90’s, but Lee Teng Hui put a stop to that when he established the above mentioned consortium, which he was recently evicted from.

Lee, however managed to salvage several million tiles in order to build additions onto his home and plans to sell off his tile stock at an extremely good price for the building of the new tallest building in Taipei. They’ll need plenty of tiles for that baby.

I also heard Ma Ying Jou plans to have the tiles along Chung Hsiao E. Rd painted with Mahjong motifs in order to snazz up Taipei and make it a world class city.

I guess the original reason why i brought up the topic was because the city government is spending wads of the taxpayers’ money (motorists and non-motorists alike) on resurfacing those old red-tiled sidewalks with new color-coordinated flagstones.

Without enforcing new draconian traffic rules which effectively ban motorcycle riders from using those new sidewalks as approaches to their parking areas, then the money spent is of benefit to nobody.

True, the city government is actually doing more than just resurfacing the sidewalk – new conduits for future cable services are being laid and piping is being ripped out and replaced – but the question remains that Ma and his goons must have sold this idea as a “benefit to X” for city councilors to approve the expenditures.

But then, I would be very foolish to think a city councilor would ever “walk” anywhere, let alone ride a scooter.

It would make sense to ban scooters altogether from the new sidewalks and let them approach their parking areas from the covered shopfronts only.

I can hear the two-wheelers thinking: “What about the 50cm-high kerb to climb?”

Why not ask those folks with wheelchairs, the elderly with walking frames, families with young kids, or anyone carrying heavy luggage …

Come on motorcyclists need to use those sidewalks to get to the parking spaces it’s common sense. If they were to push their bikes to the road (standing alongside it) they’d only take up twice as much space, inconveniencing even more people. What have you got against motorcyclists anyway? OK, dumb question We’re not all maniacs though. Think of our convenience too.


Well, as far as I know, you must push your bike if you’re on the sidewalk, although if you take a second look, you’ll realize what a crazy statement that is. I have never ridden on the sidewalk because I think its rude as well as stupid. What happens if you hit someone while riding on a space reserved for pedestrians?
I spent an enjoyable half-hour recently at the Starbucks opposite my office, watching two cops stop and ticket every single sidewalk rider that went past them.

Don’t ride on the sidewalk, folks, it only takes a few extra seconds to get off and push.

How about those lovely people that ride up onto the sidewalk in order to avoid a traffic light? (seen just this evening and the twat almost hit a young girl). I suppose that’s also perfectly acceptable?

Driving from Frankfurt to the south of France last month was so damn pleasurable. Why? Because road users have the habit of behaving themselves – an alien concept here but that’s no reason to give up hope that the situation will improve.

If Ma wasn’t such a chicken-shit toady he’d implement REAL fines and force errant drivers to attend REAL road safety classes.

Changing the subject just a little, when I left UK in 1988, drunken driving was certainly a crime, but there was no real stigmatization of offenders, and pub carparks were always full during opening hours. No more. You’re a social pariah if you even think about drink-driving and its totally because of driver education. They could do it here too, if they wanted to.

Well when I’m riding on the sidewalk, it’s only to get to and from my available parking space, and I consider it more polite than pushing my bike. If I pushed I’d be taking up too much space and noone would be able to get past the other way. I always go at walking speed or slower anyway, so I really don’t see the problem.


Sure, Bri, but you and I are aberrations in this regard, I guess.

The new sidewalks have been designed to incorporate scooter parking not in the way of pedestrians, rather just off the roadway, no need to drive on there at all. Will this take care of the problem? Doubt it.

You seem to think it’s your right to ride your scooter on the sidewalk, but if you were in your home country, you wouldn’t even HAVE a scooter, right? Do you have one here because it’s more convenient? Must be the case of ‘when in Rome…’ Glad to hear you’re fitting in so well. Do you also honk at those slow-assed pedestrians who meander aimlessly in your route to get off the pavement?

I’ve never had a scooter here because I had a severe accident (which still affects me) whilst a passenger on one 11 yrs ago. In the past year, I’ve begun riding a bicycle around. I try to ride it on the sidewalk whenever it’s convenient, rather than the road because I just don’t trust the scooter/car/truck/pedicab/bus/taxi drivers. With my “ching ching” little, inoffensive bike bell, I still feel like a heel when shooing the peddies out of my way, and I don’t even have a fuming, belching motor on the back!

Bottom line, convenience or not, I HATE scooters and wish they’d outlaw the damn things!! Especially when they block entrances into buildings or snag my bag with their pincer-like handlebars!!

Learn to take the MRT or bus or even ride a bicycle, but if you ride a scooter, you only add to the multitude of smog, noise, and pavement pollution we have to put up with. And the sad thing is, I could boycott McDonald’s for polluting the earth, but who could I boycott in this event? Carry a sign in Chinese and march up and down the sidewalk? I’d probably just get run over by someone trying to unpark his motorbike.

Alien, what a weird reponse.

Bri, You seem to think it's your right to ride your scooter on the sidewalk, but if you were in your home country, you wouldn't even HAVE a scooter, right? Do you have one here because it's more convenient?

Well yes of course, what’s wrong with that?

Bottom line, convenience or not, I HATE scooters and wish they'd outlaw the damn things!! Especially when they block entrances into buildings or snag my bag with their pincer-like handlebars!!

So it’s a personal hatred of scooters huh? Just because there’s a lot of arsehole scooter drivers out there, please don’t assume we’re all like that. There’s just as many awful car drivers here, and they’re more dangerous.

quote[quote] Learn to take the MRT or bus or even ride a bicycle, but if you ride a scooter, you only add to the multitude of smog, noise, and pavement pollution we have to put up with [/quote]

Well, I don’t think a scooter pollutes as much as a car. Wouldn’t it be fine if every scooter driver in Taipeidrove a car instead? That’s what happens at home. Do you just as passionately hate car drivers in your home country?

quote[quote] I've begun riding a bicycle around. I try to ride it on the sidewalk whenever it's convenient [/quote]

I ride my bike at walking speed to get to my carpark out of necessity, but you’re screaming along the pavement on your bicycle?


Bri, I’m not disputing your assertion that you use the sidewalk responsibly, but as I said, you are in a tiny minority.
Are you suggesting, then, that we have a law that says: “only responsible people can drive on the sidewalk.”?
Allowing people to ride on the sidewalk as long as they act responsibly is just plain crazy, IMO. Most drivers/riders here do not act responsibly.

quote[quote] Well, I don't think a scooter pollutes as much as a car. Wouldn't it be fine if every scooter driver in Taipeidrove a car instead? That's what happens at home. Do you just as passionately hate car drivers in your home country? [/quote]

I’m not blaming you for wanting convenience, but I am a bit miffed by those who think it’s the only alternative to getting around in Taipei. It’s not! Like I said, I’ve never had a scooter and I manage just fine.
I walk a lot, too, while my scooter riding friends don’t. And yes, I think a lot of the scooters belch out huge amounts of pollution because they’re often old and tatty, while most car drivers at least have newer engines which have gone through smog tests, right?

At home, I always take public transpo when I live somewhere that HAS a good system, like San Francisco. But I do admit to car ownership from the age of 16, although, it’s not a high priority for me anymore, even if I return.

Yes, I hate scooters. Is that wrong? Like I said, they’re always cluttering the sidewalks and blocking building entrances, street corners, and pavements. It’s highly annoying. Most scooter drivers, I’m not saying you, are inconsiderate towards pedestrians and tend to park their bikes wherever they feel. It lends a 3rd World quality to Taipei, which Mayor Ma is desperately hoping to reverse.

Recently, I read through a diary I’d written when I first came to Taiwan back in '90. My first impression of Taipei: “Everyone drives a scooter here!”. When my parents visited three years ago, they said the same thing. And so did my professor who came here last year from UK. Everyone says so. They’re like a blight.

I’m not saying you’re to blame more than other scooter people out there, but next time yours breaks down, try walking, taking a bus, riding a bike, or the MRT, for a few days, and see if you can cope without it.
If everyone did that, then the sidewalks might remain in good condition, we could enter buildings more conveniently, and pedestrians WOULD be king.

quote[quote]you're screaming along the pavement on your bicycle. [/quote] Well, I can't, you see, there are pedestrians to consider. Sometimes, I zip on and off the pavement to avoid them, endangering myself in the process. Too bad there aren't any bicycle lanes in Taipei, but they'd probably be taken over by scooters too! And I AIN'T riding up the center of Tun Hua like a geek.

Two things that have built the Taiwan economy

1)The scooter: people mover, furniture mover, versatile as hell. Try to get rid of those and you will shut down Taiwan

2)The blue trucks: although the drivers are demented, where would we be without the blue truck?

What causes congestion and pollution in Taiwan is simply the population. If there are proper parking facilties put in place for motorbikes, or a quota on parking spaces, and if you do not park your bike correctly, then it should be towed, this would help.
Here again this is something the Taipei city officals should do. If they allow bikes to be parked anyway on footpaths, then people will park them anyway they want or is convienent for them.

If I live in Hsin Tien and work in Taipei, do I walk to Taipei, move to Taipei city (double my rent), take the bus(2 hrs), take the MRT and then have to take a bus, or get there on my bike in twenty minutes.

Also if everybody started using public transport, it would be overstretched, and could not cope with the volume of people. Look at the MRT in the morning, isn’t it chaotic enough already, and look at the place after the MRT was shut, buses blocking up every road?

Traffic, pollution and congestion would be solved if maybe 2/3 of the population moved to China, No matter what country you go to, or what the population is, you will get pollution, pollution is related to pollution density.

But in fairness, the government should get stricter with omissions from automobiles. I think some older scooters are running on diesel or crude oil, as are the older buses with the 4.5 litre diesel engines, with automatic clutches that just guzzle the fuel in slow moving traffic.

Maybe Ma Ying Joe should do some other cool stuff for Taipei to put in on the world stage like bringing in electric buses, staggering times people finish work, banning trucks (anything over 4 wheels) from driving on the city roads during rush hour(7.30-9.00 and 5-7), reduce car parking spaces in Taipei, so people have no choice but to use public transport.

Already it is difficult to park your bike on Chung Shau/Dun Hwa, and there is no way to park a car; why cause there are no parking spaces, and if you do let your bike even a wheel out of place in the zoned parking spaces, it will be towed.
This has made Chung shau actually look like a nice open clean street.

Also I was at the traffic lights one morning and the number of people going to work in cars, with only one person in them was astounding. The way to solve that is to not allow cars with one passenger into the city, or on one day only allow cars with a tag having an odd number into the city and even numbered tags on the other days.
Or better still just increase the tax on gasoline, and use this money to repair the trenches in some of the roads (Pao Chiao Rd HsinTien) or just to make Taiwan cleaner.

I ride a scooter on the footpath… I am careful…but if somebody rides dangerously on the footpath…they should be throw off the footpath and the road indefinelty…

I have driven a Vespa for the better part of 16 years here and, like all other motorbike riders, park and drive on the sidewalks. If there was an alternative, I would use it, but this is how the city works. Yes, there are many scooters in Taipei. It certainly is an outstanding feature of the city landscape. But to condemn the traffic is to ignore reality – this is a nation of two-wheelers. I have never been flummoxed by bikes parked on the sidewalk nor have I been run down there. That a person could get steamed over having to walk an extra step or two around a parked bike once in a while betrays a kind of imperialist view that mistakenly thinks the world revolves around a single person.
The sidewalks around town are being widened, and the space for motorcycle parking is presumably being reduced by allowing street-level parking only. This knuckleheaded idea of Mayor Ma’s (another in a string of brilliant and cost-effective decisions) may give back more sidewalk than pedestrians need (unless they walk 10 abreast), but did anyone thing about having to back your bike out into moving traffic to get out of the street-level space?
Bottom line: It appears that sidewalks are being widened for the pedestrians at the expense of parking for scooters. And scooter culture is part of the greater culture of Taiwan – go with the flow.

quote[quote]It appears that sidewalks are being widened for the pedestrians at the expense of parking for scooters.[/quote] That's exactly right, but the City gov't has put its own spin on things. They say that they have been creating new parking spaces for motorcycles, when in fact they have been taking them away. Previously motorcycles were often parked in "gray" areas - that is to say, while they were not designated for motorcycle parking, neither were they considered to be tow-away zones. Now these previously quasi-legal parking spaces have become no-parking spaces, and where previously there had been 100 parked motorcycles, there are now 30. I see this as a loss of 70 motorcycle parking spaces, but the city gov't says that they have created 30 new spaces where previously there had been none. (Of the legal variety, anyway).

It really is too bad that the City gov’t doesn’t encourage the use of more scooters, especially four stroke scooters. (2 Strokes are horrible polluters.) Just think, if the average sedan has at least 1600cc and is replaced by a scooter at 125cc, can you imagine how much less gas this island would consume, as well as how much less the emissions would be? And since 5 or 6 scooters can comfortably park in the space taken up by one car, just imagine how much more room there would be in parking lots and on the street.

Taipei would be great for bicycling except for the weather. All too often it’s raining or sweltering hot, or both, and most of us have to be at least halfway presentable when we go to work. I think the MRT is a great system (when it’s running), but really, it does need more lines. Right now, it’s only good for bringing people into the city, it’s not that great for getting around town.