Sunday, January 20, 2013

Transportation Survey

Surveying Taipei City for
Safety Car Transport Analysis

This is the conventional relatively unobstructed sidewalk in good clean brick paved condition. Many sidewalks are more narrow than this one. Farther back, this sidewalk had serious and dangerous drop-offs and was completely obstructed.

Note there is a potted plant to the right of the walkway about midway to the intersection and a sign that overhangs into the walking space. Also visible is a large sewer cover. This one is cast iron and strong. Beware of many weak covers made from thin aluminum that may not support the weight of a heavy person or vehicle.

Although this walkway is unusually large, it's common to see a car blocking the narrow sidewalk path and to remain parked unattended directly on the sidewalk for considerable time.

Almost always, there is insufficient space (less than 24-inches) to pass around with a small 2-foot wide vehicle. This demands a diversion into the street or alternate route, perhaps backtracking to find a congestion free path.

Scooter parking is not always an option as specifically designated parking areas are often maxed out with no remaining parking places as far as the eye can see.

Bikes with no place to park will often take up at least one scooter parking stall during busy times. These stalls usually do not have 24-inches width available, because of the extra large footprint of the two adjacent parked scooters.

In the photo, two people on a scooter are patrolling the area looking for a place to park.

A little known secret is the dark poorly illuminated special pathways that exist between some skyscrapers as left over space after the construction was completed. Amazingly, these are time saving short cuts to new places within the city.

These are not entirely untapped as some people have attached connecting "roofs" between the skyscrapers and made places to live, places to hang clothes, places to store junk, a place to store and discard garbage, and others have created a parking place for scooters (as seen in the photo). Bikers frequent these areas as traffic free shortcuts.

Generally, special pathways have a 24-inch wide clearance for a safety vehicle. A project is now underway to map all the downtown special pathways. Special pathways have some advantages for testing vehicle prototypes as they are not generally patrolled and are more private than more public streets and sidewalks. However, keep in mind that official patrolling motorcycles can fit into and traverse these small areas too.

Both manual bikes and gasoline powered scooters are given this lane to travel upon alongside the main traffic. However, we noted the main traffic was also using this designated area and it was not very safe. It takes a very brave person to ride a slow bike in this lane and be buzzed by reckless fast other vehicles.

Sidewalks randomly have very steep drop offs, which are very dangerous. At night, they are invisible due to either poor or no illumination. In the daytime, one can see the steps are not even and have different sizes. Hitting one of these with a small vehicle to damage the vehicle. The only solution is to map all the sidewalks before traversing those areas and avoid all the drop off sidewalks. Drop offs are more or less frequent depending on the area of the city.

This sidewalk and drip path are completely blocked. A mobile restaurant has moved onto the sidewalk and a food grill and and a large electrical transformer are blocking the drip path.

This sidewalk merges large square tiles with the drip path where garbage is dumped and a scooter blocks the way. The clear area in the passage way is about 11 inches wide, with only enough clearance for a pedestrian walking sideways through the opening.

Don't try to follow these ultimately crazy dashed white traffic lines or an accident is sure to result.