I have to confess that I didn’t do much cycling in Taiwan, I mainly shopped and ate and took really long, hot baths. It was vacation with my girlfriend after all. But wherever I go, I keep an eye out for things related to cycling. And it seems like Taiwanese popular culture has latched onto cycling like America in the 1970s.
Everywhere I went I saw advertisers using cycling to sell products, portraying an image of fun and health. I saw TV commercials for diet supplements targeting middle-aged consumers, showing a greying man with a bike on his shoulder, greeting his wife after a vigorous ride. Mobile carriers actually give away bikes as part of some deals. There’s even an exercise drink called Bicycle that comes in a bike bottle. It’s in the refrigerated section of convenience stores next to teas and cola.
At one of the stationary stores in the Ximending shopping district, we saw this pack of cycling related stickers to spruce up your written correspondence.
Taiwan is experiencing a boom in cycling right now, and advertisers are eager to co-op cycling’s image of health and fun. It was fascinating to see this land, which has long been a crucial player in the cycling industry, seemingly fall in love with joy of bikes for the first time.
Yet, if I had to name one negative, I would have to say that Taiwan is not close to recognizing the bicycle as a valid and respectable form of commuting. Here in Taiwan, the motorscooter rules the road and the Taiwanese with money use automobiles.