TAIPEI (Taiwan News) — Motorcyclists from across Taiwan gathered in Taipei on Sunday (Nov. 26) outside the Ministry of Transportation and Communication (MOTC) to demand greater access to Taiwan’s national highways.
Organizers said the protest drew over 3,000 people and around 1,000 motorcycles, which could be seen surrounding the MOTC on Renai Road Sunday afternoon, reported LTN. The primary demand of the motorcyclists is for the central government to grant heavy cycles access to the country’s national highway system, as access is currently banned for heavy bikes in the same manner as scooters.
The bikers also want the government to ease restrictions on where heavy bikes can park, and make it legal to maneuver more like four-wheel vehicles on the nation’s roads. They would like heavy bikes to be able to use the inner lane on two-lane roads, and make left turns in the same manner as cars and buses, rather than perform the two-stage left turn as scooters are required to do.
These demands have been a priority for many in Taiwan’s motorcycling community for several years. They argue that allowing heavy bikes to access the national highways is much safer than using rural, narrow mountain roads with poor lighting.
Earlier in the week on Tuesday (Nov. 21), a smaller group of protestors picketed outside the Legislative Yuan making the same demands.
In response to the bikers, the MOTC says that greater consensus is needed among all of society before any talks to change the current regulations can begin. Transportation Minister Wang Kwo-tsai (王國材) has said that there is currently no timetable to begin talks on such changes.
Wang’s statement reportedly angered the protestors, who have vowed to keep fighting and increase pressure on the government to meet their demands. There was also dissatisfaction among protestors that the MOTC dispatched a low-level official to receive their position, which many took as an insult, per LTN.
Protestors called for motorcycles to be allowed on Taiwan's national highways. (CNA photo)
The MOTC claims that 60% of citizens surveyed are opposed to granting heavy motorcycles access to national highways. However, many bikers say that this number is based on a biased survey that is conducted once a year and is not a reliable indicator of the public’s view on the issue.
Organizers of the protest assert that 70% of the public is not even aware that motorcycles have a legal basis for access to the nation’s highways based on the right to freedom of movement. Too many people are unaware of the issues and simply reject the notion with no understanding, they argue.
In response to the other demands, the MOTC says that different areas in Taiwan can adapt and provide more dedicated parking spaces for motorcycles. Some communities also have signs indicating the intersections where scooters and motorcycles can make direct left-turns, in areas where it is safe and will not disrupt the local traffic situation.