Overseas Chinese Day

Today is Overseas Chinese Day in Taiwan, an official holiday to invite the huge Chinese diaspora to visit Taiwan. It’s a good excuse to say hello to your Taiwan expatriate friends. And finally, it’s an opportunity to mention the Taiwan Cycling Festival taking place this month.

The “ 2010 Taiwan Cycling Festival” includes a series of activities that combines cycling competitions with Cycling Tourism. The events will culminate this weekend with the Taiwan Cup 2010 International Road Race, in which several Asian UCI teams along with Rabobank will compete for NT$15M (about US$485,000) in prizes.

Hualien County bicycle

You’ve seen some of Mark Blacknell‘s dispatches from Taiwan here at Cyclelicious. Some other familiar names along for the ride include Beverly Garrity of Cuptertino, CA and Mark Villegas of Bike Hugger.

The Government of Taiwan has made a major push to promote cycling in Taiwan as a form of eco-friendly recreation, and they’ve built miles and miles of bike paths throughout the country side. Cycling is seen as a recreational activity in Taiwan, where a significant social stigma is attached to utility / transportational cycling, probably even more than in the USA. Still, the government transportation ministry and the Taiwan bicycle industry are working to try to change attitudes about cycling.

Beverly explored some of these new paths last weekend, telling us the island is “littered with new bike paths and cycling stations to encourage recreational riding and tourism.” She’s in the middle of nowhere on an empty rail trail and encounters “cycling stations” that are basically mini bike shops with snack shops, maintenance help, restrooms and even showers.

I love how the bike paths are rated for Vigor, Joy and Convenience!

Taiwan Bike Path: Vigor, Joy and Convenience Index

There’s clearly a “build it and they will come” philosophy at work in Taiwan. It’ll be interesting to see how successful the government and Giant Bicycles will be in attracting new interest in cycling.

Read more of Bev’s report: 70 kilometers of bike lanes and paths.

Photos by Beverly Garrity and used with her permission.

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