Friday, March 2, 2012
One of the best ideas the Taiwanese Ministry of Transportation has come up with, is to use disused railway lines as bike routes. In some areas this really works out for the better.
Anyone who has cycled through hilly countryside has, at sometime or other, prayed to the bicycle gods: “Let there be a tunnel around the next corner, and preferably one without cars.”
It was, perhaps, with this in mind that Taiwan’s cycling gods (OK, the Ministry of Transportation and Communications; MOTC) designated a 2.16-kilometer section of disused railway tunnel for development as part of the Old Caoling Tunnel Bikeway.
Offered the novelty of being able to cycle through a tunnel without sharing the road with countless gravel trucks – or maybe because the air is noticeably cooler inside – many Taiwanese tourists take a tour bus or train to the town of Fulong, near the tunnel’s northern entrance, cycle 15 minutes to the other end, drink a cup of coffee or eat ice-cream, then cycle back.
The MOTC recently extended the bikeway further along the coastal highway north from the tunnel’s southern entrance by constructing a barrier to ensure separation of the above-mentioned trucks with the soft flesh of cyclists. This route allows bikers now to safely cycle back to Fulong the long way after exiting the tunnel. On the way, its gentle slopes and curves take cyclo-tourists past a plethora of historical, cultural, and culinary places of interest.