[E]stablish a bicycle network in the eastern region and to implement the seamless integration of the railway-bicycle combination transits to connect scenic, recreational, ecological and cultural sites as part of the blueprint for the bicycle network in the eastern region.To this end, the MOTC - in cooperation with other federal agencies and the local Hualien and Taitung governments - have already completed a number of cycling infrastructure improvements. Bicycle Facilities Construction and Improvements The MOTC have have aimed their efforts at making the Hualien-Taitung bicycle routes a "bicycle riding paradise." In 2009, a total of 174 km of paths or on-road facilities were constructed or improved (including the introduction of of slow lanes within the provincial highway system to integrate bicycle lanes). This resulted in a regional of total of 578 km of networked roads that incorporated cycling facilities. According to the MOTC, 2010 will be 250 km of bicycle paths and, with assistance from local governments, another 89 km of on-road improvements. By the end of 2010, there should be a total 917 km of cycling facilities/improvements in the region. These include improvements on the existing routes of Provincial Highways No. 2, No. 9, No. 8, No. 9C, No. 7, No. 7C, and other minor connecting roads. Bicycle Facilities Design Guidelines To ensure that all this work results in a safe and useable bicycle network, the “Bicycle Path System Plan Reference Manual (2st Ed.)" has been completed, and is available here (in Mandarin). In addition, a safety manual aimed at riders - the "Bicycle Riding Safety Manual" - is available for download. While I've been told that an English-language version of the linked site is forthcoming, I'm not sure that English-language editions of either of these publications are planned. Hualien's Bicycle-on-Bus Service In 2009, Hualien implemented a bike-on-bus project, providing racks on the front of its municipal buses. I'm unclear as to whether the rollout was limited to particular routes (I suspect it was). They appear to be your standard quick on/off racks found in many countries.
- Bicycle Carriage Transformation: The TRA plans for modifications of 45 cars of the Chu-Guang Express and 32 cars of the PP Tze-Chiang Express to transport people with bicycles. After modifications, each car will have bike racks and passenger seating. Some of the removed old units will be recycled into bicycle service stations. There are future plans for special train reservations for which bicycle enthusiasts may apply. The TRA has also announced that preliminary prices will entail reduced fares, with each bicycle receiving a 50% discount from the regular fair.
- Bicycle Depot Setup: The plan is to provide 16 bicycle depots along the eastern region with services such as bicycle rental, rest areas, restrooms, bicycle maintenance and cleaning, food courts and other resources. In conjunction with the "2010 Taiwan Bike Day" activities, the TRA set up 5 stations in Sincheng, Shoufong, Rueisuei, Yuli and Taitung. This brings the total to 8 stations currently in operation. One goal of these additional stations is to allow for one-way bicycle rentals.
- Station Access: the TRA plans to provide overpass and underpass walkways, with room enough on both sides to carry bicycles from the railcar to the station exit.
- Passenger Information: the TRA's website will provide schedules and search systems for its railway-bicycle services.
Bus Rack Photo credit: Ministry of Transportation and Communications