A new 750-mile round-the-island cycle route is spearheading Taiwan’s efforts to become a “cycling paradise”.
The ambition is that of no less than Prime Minister Mao Chi-kuo. Taiwan is already a leading country in bike manufacturing: now it wants to attract more touring cyclists to its shores.
Cycling Route No 1, as it’s called, is a signposted route running around the Far Eastern island. Part is on-road, but almost 400 miles on the east coast runs along scenic bike paths. Along the way, 122 rest stops provide cyclists with supplies and a place to take a breather – with some even set up in local police stations. The full route typically takes nine days to complete, but the Taiwan railways have set up ‘transit depots’ so cyclists can travel part of the route then conclude their journey by train.
As the name suggests, this is just the first in several routes planned for the island. According to Mao:
“We expect to flesh out Taiwan’s future cycling network construction by setting up the second and third round-island routes. With an extended drive continuing into 2018, we have every reason to believe that Taiwan will become an even friendlier environment for cyclists while spurring growth in the local bicycle and tourism sectors.”
Mao is far from the country’s only bike-friendly politician. The Mayor of Taipei, Dr Ko Wen-je, recently cycled 240 miles in under 21 hours, and is widely touted as a future President of the nation. The country hosts an annual Taiwan Cycling Festival, established in 2011.