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City cycling profiles and riding habits
Living and growing in Taipei city, where is the capital of Taiwan, I was lucky to have an acceptable cycling environment surrounded to do all my trips by bike within 15-minute riding distance which is around 7 km range since I was in primary school. Before becoming a freshman, cycling for me was just a means of commuting. It was until I started riding my fancy Giant-TCR road bike as my main hobby during my study at a university that I realized the fun and benefits of cycling.
My cycling mental states
The main goal of this article is to describe my cycling experience during my typical commuting trip in Taipei city. In the whole article, I will use my 3-level mental states during my riding to describe to what extent I am aware of the surrounding. The 3-level mental states are classified as follows:
Totally immersed in the fun of cycling without any awareness of my surroundings. In this mental state, I would sing my favorite songs and my view is on the front without any specific focus on specific things. Sometimes, I do a sprint out of the saddle mimicking the role of Yowamushi Pedal, which is the anime of road bike racing. Therefore, I fully enjoy the riding without any stress.
Partially enjoy the movement with awareness of specific things or areas. In this mental state, I would stop singing and focus on how to interact with specific objects such as pedestrians, cyclists in front, etc., or specific areas such as the side of on-street parking beside my riding where car door could suddenly open and hit the riders. Therefore, I am still able to enjoy the riding and to be cautious in the meanwhile.
Tighten my nerve and be cautious with awareness of entire surroundings. In this mental state, I would be fully aware of my surrounding in order to immediately respond to any sudden happenings. This mental state often happens when I was in the mixed traffic without bike lanes and explicit signs for cyclists. Therefore, I always feel stressed and insecure.
Finally, the following chapters will describe my cycling experience of the daily commuting trips in Taipei city based on my mental state levels with street views of my trips.
Cycling in Taipei city
The cycling network in Taipei is shown in Figure 1. Most of the arterial roads have dedicated bike lanes and lanes shared by pedestrians and bicycles, which I will call: shared lane in the following context (this is also classified as a bike lane in Taiwan). However, the road conditions of share roads are uneven, therefore the riding experiences were also very different in adjacent share road sections.
My daily commuting trip in Taipei is shown in Figure 2, which is about 15 minutes with a 2.7 km overall distance. Most of the commuting routes are covered with classified bike lanes. However, the official so-called bike lane is actually a shared lane with pedestrians except for the dedicated bike lane.
So, let’s get on the saddle! The first sight of my trip came into the narrow residential shared way shown in Figure 3. However, this way is neither traffic calm zone nor any split limit shown. Therefore, my mental state level (hereinafter abbreviated as MSL) becomes 2 to be cautious not to bump against the passing car.
When I turned into the dedicated bike lane in Figure 4, my MSL became 1 that I felt relaxed and indulged myself in the joy of riding. Sometimes, pedestrians or riders at snail’s speed will appear on the bike lane. Therefore, my MSL would become 2 in order to carefully overtake them at safe distance.
Then I encountered the first intersection in Figure 5. Though there is a sign of a bike lane on the crossing, most of the right-turning scooters and cars are reluctant to yield the road to pedestrians and cyclists. Therefore, my MSL became 2, and keep my eye on the vehicles’ speed. If the vehicle seems not likely to decelerate, I will yield the road to the vehicle and wait until one is willing to stop and yield the road for me.
After crossing the intersection, the long straight ride began which is shown in Figure 6-9. Though this road is classified as a road with a bike lane, it is actually a shared lane that both pedestrians and cyclists can use it. Besides, there are some obstacles like bollards, flyovers, and bikes, and scooters not properly parked. Therefore, my MSL is still kept at 2 with low speed to be aware of those obstacles and pedestrians. It is worth noting that there are many pedestrian arcades under relatively old buildings since Taiwan rains quite often. Therefore, most of the pedestrians will use pedestrian arcades.
Figure 6-9 Bike lane with shared use (i.e. shared lane)
Afterward, I encountered a huge intersection. My MSL stayed at 2 and I was aware of the right-turning vehicles and I have to speed up to cross the intersection since the remaining green light is always short. After crossing the intersection and riding through the shared lane that is also classified as a bike lane, I finally arrived at my workplace!
In conclusion, my MSL during my commuting trip in Taipei is shown in Figure 12. Most of my MSL stay at 2, which means besides enjoying the ride, I am aware of specific objects such as right-turning vehicles and traffic lights with less green time at the intersection, and pedestrians, snail cyclists and obstacles on the shared lane. I only entirely enjoy the ride when I was on the dedicated bike lane with MSL 1 since there are no other modes involved and without any potential danger in the surroundings. Sometimes there is a snail’s speed rider but the bike lane is wide enough for me to overtake. My MSL never rise to 3 since I was not involved in the traffic for this trip. Otherwise, it will be extremely dangerous for cyclists to ride with whizzing cars, scurrying scooters, and bulky buses.
In general, I had the best riding experience with a dedicated bike lane, less bike traffic, and without vehicles nearby whether they are mobile or parked beside me, though other factors such as weather conditions and road construction would affect my route choice that further change my riding experience. There is room for improvements regarding riding experiences in both cities. If more cyclists and pedestrians are aware of each other on the shared lane, and scooter and car drivers are willing to yield the road to active mode users then the riding experience will become safer and smoother.