The riverbank bikeways 河濱單車徑 built along the rivers winding through Taipei City and New Taipei City form a vast network of bike paths. A significant part of it embraces Taipei City in the shape of a distorted “C”, with its flourishes extending towards Xizhi 汐止, Xindian 新店, Sanxia 三峽, Taoyuan 桃園, and Tamsui 淡水. Since only bicycles, e-bikes, and pedestrians are allowed on these designated bike paths (except one or two occasional service vehicles with special permit), cyclists don’t need to negotiate road rights with other motorized vehicles or inhale the polluted air coming from their exhaust pipes. With the absence of traffic lights, these well-paved and seemingly endless bikeways make a cyclists’ paradise whether you are a seasoned athlete in training, a newbie trying to get familiar with your bike, or a parent cycling with an over-excited new rider. Meanwhile, because of its vast coverage, commuting cyclists can also make use of it like the freeways for bikes to get to the closest exit points, so as to stay away from the busy city traffic as much as possible.
Regrettably, these amazing cycling infrastructures are mostly hidden behind the two-storey-high flood walls erected between the rivers and the city area to protect the cities from flooding during monsoon seasons, which causes the riverbank bikeways remain unknown, or at least neglected, for many of the cities’ residents, let alone tourists and visitors. Cyclists who come for a cycling trip in Taiwan for the first time, including myself back in 2009, are most likely inclined to leave Taipei City in a rush for the much craved countryside. Back then I was led by my GPS navigation device onto the busy roads within the city towards the next town. That wasn’t bad at all, but the beautiful, tranquil riverbank bikeways were totally ignored because those devices and apps were all programmed to come up with the shortest route to your destination. They still are.
It’s not until my second cycling trip years later that I discovered the riverbank bikeways, a more desirable offer by the city to cyclists. Once we got to the riverbank, we found ourselves cycling blissfully on the dedicated bike paths for more than 20km until we reached Tamsui, where the coastal road unrolled before us. It was like getting through a magic tunnel devoid of all the unpleasant aspects of city traffic.
The riverbank bikeways in Taipei and New Taipei city are too good to be missed as a part of your cycling trip in Taiwan. So, I am sharing in this post the way to access them so as to give your ride a great start.
Many travelers would prefer staying close to the Taipei Main Station when they are visiting Taipei, a juncture of the MRT Taoyuan Airport Line, MRT Red Line, MRT Blue Line, Taiwan Railways, and the High Speed Rail. If this is also where you start your ride, the simplest way to get to the riverbank bikeways is set your GPS to “Zhongxiaochoushui Station” 忠孝抽水站. Two words only. On Google Maps, you would be shown a location where Zhengzhou Road meets Section 1, Huanhe North Road. There is an entrance to the riverbank at the end of Zhengzhou Road (westwards). This gate is called Yanping Evacuation Gate 延平疏散門, which stays open most of the time except when there is risk of flooding. In times like that, advance warning will be given to vehicles and pedestrians on the riverbank so that they can have enough time to evacuate via gates like this. Some of them, like Yanping Evacuation Gate, are unmarked on Google Maps. That’s why I have to use a landmark nearby to indicate the location.
Once you are in, go further west on the bike paths and you will see the water. For those who want to cycle around the Taiwan island on the coastal route, head north to Tamsui for a clockwise loop or to Bali District for an anti-clockwise loop. Those who want to do an anti-clockwise loop via the inner land route may head south. The paved bike trails will bring you to Daxi or Sanxia District.
But how about those who do not stay close to the Taipei Main Station, or those who just want to get around the city via the riverbank bikeways to bypass the city traffic? Here is a list of the access points we have compiled on Google Maps. You will have it loaded on your browser or Google Maps app by clicking through this link:
These access points can be in the form of:
Flyovers to cross over the flood walls
Ramps for cars
Elevators that operate at specific hours
There are many other access points for pedestrians, but these are the points where cyclists have no need to carry their bikes on their shoulders and climb the stairways.
A small number of these access points are unmarked on Google Maps so I have marked somewhere nearby like I did with the Yanping Evacuation Gate. Once you reach the marked places, you should be able to spot the access points easily. I have also submitted the unmarked access points as missing places to Google. Hopefully they will show up on the Maps soon.
I have also included in the list those bridges that connect the bikeways to the other side of the rivers and offer designated bike paths to cyclists. Although bikes are allowed on most of the bridges in Taipei, I don’t regard them all as part of the bikeway network. Like Mingquan Bridge, you need to leave the bikeway and join the other vehicles on Minquan East Road to use the bridge. Bridges like this are not on my list.
The list is not yet completed and I will keep updating it whenever I come across a new access point. If you happen to know one that is not yet listed here, or you spot any error in our list, please send us an email. We, and I believe all our fellow cyclists, will appreciate your help. Thank you.