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Saturday, October 25, 2014

I bike, you bike; we all bike on iBike

 Howie Chen & Donna Liu

In 2009, Taipei city government set up a bicycle rental system for visitors and commuters. The system was so popular that Kaohsiung city soon followed with its own system. Now, finally, Taichung city has joined the bandwagon. In July, Taichung City opened its new iBike system, and visitors and commuters – and even Feng Chia University students – can join in the fun.

All photos by the authors

Before using the iBike system, you need to become a verified member of this system. There are two ways to become a member, one is by using the KIOSK machine and the other is by using your credit card. When registering, you are required to provide your personal cell phone number. The system will send you a text message with a verification code. After you input this number and your easy card number, you will successfully become a member. When you rent your bicycle, the first thirty minutes are free, but you will be charged NT$20 per hour for up to four hours. If you keep your bike for between four and eight hours, the rental goes up to NT$40 per hour. After the eighth hour, you will be charged NT$80 per hour.

There are currently three iBike rental stations in Taichung: Chau Ma, Taichung City Government, and Feng Chia University.  Chau Ma is a popular place to rent an iBike. Maple Garden Park is nearby, and it is a beautiful place to ride. Chao Ma is also close to the highway, so people visiting Taichung always pass by here. However, because there are so many highway busses in the area, you really have to be careful when riding in the area. The City Government station is located near the corner of Wenxin Road and Taichung Port Road. Both the MRT and BRT will pass by here, so this will also be a popular station in the future. Right now, it’s not that popular because it’s a bit hard to find. The last spot is in front of the famous Feng Chia University night market. After tasting the delicious food in the night market, people can rent a bike and ride around the Feng Chia business district. They can even ride to Maple Garden Park, if they want to.  They can leave their bikes there and catch a bus back to the university. The only problem with renting an iBike at the Feng Chia University station is that there are too many people who want to rent bikes here and you might have to wait a while until someone returns their bike.  

One day, we rented bikes at the Feng Chia station, and spent the whole day riding to Dong Hai University. We had dinner at the Dong Hai night market and took a lot of pictures in the beautiful campus. However, it took too long for us to get there, and it is not wise for anyone to ride so far in dangerous traffic or in such hot weather.

  In conclusion, IBike not only adds to the beauty of Taichung, but will also increase tourism in the city and help reduce environmental pollution. Nowadays, more and more people are changing the way they get around. Going for a ride on a bicycle is much different from taking a ride on your motor-scooter, and a lot more fun. We hope you will try it, and we also hope that more cities in Taiwan will create their own city bike systems. 

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