Bicycle SA was recently invited to attend Taipei’s Asia Cycle Forum. Here’s what’s happening in world of cycling in Asia.
Bicycle SA has long been known for the great cycling tours we put on through this wonderful state, showcasing the best food, wine and people we have on offer. So strong is this tradition, that the organisation was originally called the South Australian Cycle Tourists Association!
Earlier this month Bike SA was invited to present a paper on Australian cycle tourism at the Asia Cycling Forum 2015 in Taipei. Next year, Taipei will host the Velo-city Global international cycling conference and this years’ forum was a terrific opportunity for the organisers to get the wheels rolling in the lead up to 2016. It was also no coincidence that the Taipei International Cycle Show was also on at the same time – it never ceases to amaze how many variations there are to a bike frame and two wheels!
The week kicked off with the 2015 International Bicycle Trend Forum. Hosted by Tony Lo, CEO Giant Bicycles, the forum looked at current and emerging bicycle industry trends for Taiwan. Giant has been a leader in building deeper relationships between advocacy organisations and the industry – in simple terms, the more people we (as advocates) get riding, means the more people that will buy a bike.
Also clear is the role that cycling is increasingly playing in cities of the future. Taipei’s Commissioner for Transportation Anne Chung and a number of academic leaders outlined the well researched health, transportation, environmental benefits that getting more bums on bikes can deliver to a smart city.
As for the Asia Cycle Forum, key themes revolved around public bike share, the challenges of moving growing populations through cities and the business of cycle tourism.
The rise of public bike share schemes continues unabated. Currently there are around 800 cities and one million bikes currently rolling around on a share basis and this trend is only set to increase with smart phone technology is making it easier and cheaper to run these systems. Adding to this is the continued rise of the electric bicycle, a major focus for this years’ Taiwan Cycle Show.
It’s clear that appropriately resourced bike share schemes are now an integral part of the public transport network for cities.
Interestingly, many of the transport challenges faced by us in Adelaide were reflected in the Forum sessions.
Senior transport bureaucrats from Taiwan, Japan, Malaysia, Singapore, Korea, Hong Kong and India all shared similar stories of the challenges faced from growing populations, diminishing road space, increasing air pollution and conflict issues between road users. In this context, bicycles are already playing an important role in community mobility, particularly through bike share schemes.
As always, infrastructure plays a key role in mitigating these challenges. This narrative is not new to SA and represents another call to action for our state and local governments to provide fit-for-purpose cycling facilities.
Taiwan is an exquisitely beautiful place. Only 400km long and forged in the Pacific ring of fire, if you like a climb in your ride, you have to get over there, with over 200 peaks over 3,000m.
Cycle tourism is big business, with the Taiwanese bicycle industry playing a major part in delivering tourism product. I can think of only one bicycle industry wholesaler in Australia that is investing in the development and delivery of tourism product – perhaps this will be a trend for the future.
For our part, Bike SA provided an analysis of the diversity of management models currently in play across some of our highest quality tourism destinations.
Lets not forget that cycle tourism is valued at $2.4billion to the Australian economy each year. Pleasingly, this growth is reflected with our Annual Tour and Outback Odyssey selling out already this year.
Read more about Taiwan’s cycle history in this great article from journalist Carlton Reid.