Last year a middle aged Taiwanese man that I know was given a brand new EBike, or electricity assisted bicycle, for New Year. It was thought that this would be an ideal gift for a man who, according to his family, isn't an alcoholic, but just loves to drink.
His love of drink had gotten him a couple of large tickets and his family felt that an EBike would be a perfect way to skirt the current laws, which outlaw driving under the influence of alcohol. An EBike would allow him to freely drink and drive.
I thought this might have been an isolated case of one family's pluck and determination in shielding a family member from embarrassment and trouble. I was wrong.
The Liberty Times reports on one Taichung resident who has been stopped multiple times for Driving Under the Influence (DUI).
When the police finally followed the fumes and caught up with Mr. Li, who had run numerous stop lights and reeked of skunky Japanese whiskey, the man refused the officer's request to conduct a field sobriety test. Mr. Li was given a compulsory NT$60,000 fine for refusing the sobriety test and released.
With no laws covering Ebikes and other electric vehicles that are unregistered, Mr. Li was able to fight the ticked and have his fine reduced to NT$500.
The police complain that the use of Ebikes by alcoholics has rapidly increased as a method to evade sobriety checkpoints while continuing to put themselves and others at risk on the road.
In Taiwan the bike is not always for leisure and recreation, but it is also a further evolution in the public's long, passive aggressive history of flouting the laws designed to promote public safety.
I guess when you see an EBike coming, it might be best to give him a wide berth.