Taiwan is great for cycling. However, how to safely cycle in Taiwan is important due to Taiwan’s unique geology, climate and vehicle behavior.
One of the major factors to safely cycle in Taiwan is the part of the road a cyclist should ride on. Here I want to share my opinion through my many Taiwan cycling trips.
For a typical 2-lane Taiwan country road, the right lane can be separated into four zones:
- Middle: close to the double yellow line.
- Left of shoulder: about 30cm left of the white shoulder line.
- Shoulder: right of the white shoulder line.
NEVER Get Close to Middle
You should NEVER ride close to the yellow middle line, due to the following reason:
In Taiwan, the double yellow line is just for reference. Cars/motorcycles WILL certainly cross the middle line at turns or during overtake.
Staying away from the middle yellow line is especially hard to do in Taiwan during steep descend. So for curved roads don’t try to rush downhills and use brake instead.
(Seriously, never get close to the double line. At my recent Big Three Yuan ride one cyclist died when she was hit by a speeding scooter that crossed the double line!)
Shoulders are Not Safe!
When I cycle in the US I certainly will ride on the road shoulder when available. This is not so in Taiwan.
When cycling in Taiwan, be extremely cautious when riding on shoulder uphill, and you should consider not riding on shoulder when descending.
Why? There are several reasons:
Poorly designed shoulders
Taiwan’s shoulder is often poorly designed. It is not uncommon for shoulder to suddenly replaced by a water trench meters deep, or suddenly a pole at shoulder’s middle.
Unlike in the US, in Taiwan poles are often located right on the shoulders.
Taiwan’s mountain terrain is very steep. Combined with heavy rains during typhoons, many remote roads have BIG fallen rocks on the shoulders.
Fallen rocks at roadside.
Shoulders as parking lot
Taiwanese people park freely on shoulders, partially due to limited parking space and partially because people think it’s ok to block part of the road.
Shoulder parking is common in Taiwan.
Best Position to Safely Cycle in Taiwan: 30cm left of white shoulder line
In my experience, the position about 30cm left of the white shoulder line is the safest.
30cm left of white shoulder line.
Here the cyclist is safe from the vehicles crossing the double yellow line. Furthermore, this position is approximately where the car tires hit the road, thus almost no fallen rocks as they will be bounced away by the tires (or cleaned up).
Finally, the 30cm is not too close to the center for vehicles to pass through, yet it saves enough room so when a big vehicle tries to squeeze through you won’t be forced off the road or hit a pole.