Friday, June 21, 2013

U-Biking in Taipei's Combat Zone

Taipei's U-Bike scheme is a great addition to the city's transport melange. For US$0.60 per hour anyone with a Yoyo (that's phonetic, not literal spelling, since it would read You You, and any non-Chinese speakers would mispronounce it) card can rent a three-speed bicycle and travel around Taipei under you own power.

Taipei Scooter Style tried out this new system, and it's awesome. The bikes are in good shape, and drivers in the city are prepared to respect cyclists' right to ride. There is no helmet law for cyclists, so your noggin is your own concern. No one is going to apprehend you at a stop light for not wearing a skid lid.

The bikes have built in lights (the generators are built into the hubs) and a cable/lock. For now, the bike stations are mostly in the eastern part of the city, predominantly around the national universities, the 101 neighborhood, and some MRT stations. New stations are being constructed as we speak, so expect to see more riders on these orange bikes in your neighborhood soon.

On this ride, I started at the Zhongshan District police station at the corner of Nanjing and Zhongshan North Road. I decided to tour the old Combat Zone, the area where bars catering to GIs on R&R from the Vietnam War used to be located.

At night, this is still a happening entertainment district, where barber shops, massage parlors, KTV salons, short-term hotels, and the like, are located. In the daytime, well, see for yourself.

This video runs at real-time speed, so you're in little danger of losing your lunch when you watch it. It's farily long, at 17 minutes, but the narration is oh-so-fascinating. You're welcome. Heh.