Taiwanese police are remarkably friendly, and rarely harass pedestrians or motorists. This means that traffic laws, especially for cyclists, are not as strictly enforced as in many Western countries. The penalties for traffic offenses in Taiwan are also refreshingly modest. That being said, knowing the law is still important for remaining safe and holding yourself above reproach while cycling the streets of Taiwan.
1. You can’t ride your bike on the side walk.
Wait, what? Your heard right, it is technically illegal to ride your bicycle on a sidewalk or pedestrian crosswalk if there aren't markings for a bike lane. This offense can carry a fine of 300NT- 600NT. While I won't condone breaking this law, I will assert the honest observation that biking on the sidewalk is very common in Taiwan, and I have never seen anyone punished for doing so. If your worried about breaking this law, walking alongside your bike when on a sidewalk or pedestrian crosswalk is a simple solution.
2. Don’t ride your bike in public parks without bike lanes.
Breaking this cycling law carries a hefty price tag of 2,000NT- 10,000NT, but is seldom, if ever enforced. However, you might very well get some glaring looks from upset locals as well as requests from pedestrians to dismount your bike if you are caught riding in a park. This is especially true in large parks where there are clear signs showing that cycling is prohibited.
3. Stay out of the fast lane.
When riding on the road, you should keep as far right as possible to allow other motorists to pass. You may get fined 300NT- 600NT if you violate this traffic code.
4. Don’t use your cellphone while cycling.
Cycling while playing Plants vs. Zombies is dangerous, silly, and illegal. Breaking this cycling law can be punished with a 300NT- 600NT fine.
5. Park in designated areas.
It is against Taiwan’s traffic code to park your bike haphazardly, although it isn’t clear whether or not you can receive a ticket from this. It is ideal to find designated bike parking to leave your bike. If no bicycle parking is available, cyclists are also legally allowed to use scooter parking. It is also very common to sensibly park your bike anywhere as long as it isn’t blocking traffic, or isn’t in any location that will inconvenience others. Just use your common sense on this one.
6. Your bicycle needs front and rear lights and reflectors.
When driving at night, make sure your bicycle is equipped with proper lights and reflectors. Not only is it dangerous to ride without them, but this offense can carry a 180NT fine.
7. Don’t turn left at major intersections.
At most large intersections, cyclists cannot directly turn left. You need to do a box-turn, otherwise known as a two-stage turn. At intersections where it is required to do a two-stage turn, you will see a sign indicating a two stage-turn and/or a queue box. You must go straight across the intersection, then stop in the designated queue box. Wait there until the light in the opposing direction turns green. You may then proceed toward your desired direction. Even at intersections where a two-stage turn isn’t required, it is sometimes in your best interest of safety do one anyway, especially at busier intersections. If you want more information about cycling safely in Taiwan, please read this blog post.
8. Don't drink and cycle, duh!
If your alcohol concentration exceeds .12mg/L (roughly BAC .025) when cycling, then you can be fined 300-600NT, or 1,200 NT if you refuse a breathalyzer test. Your blood alcohol concentration (BAC) may top this number after only one drink, so be careful! If you BAC exceeds .25mg/L (BAC.05), or just 2 drinks for many people, then you are considered a public risk, and can even be arrested!
These are most certainty not all of the laws concerning cycling in Taiwan. If it sounds irresistibly exciting to browse an English version of a Taiwanese legal database for more information about cycling laws, as I’m sure it does for most of us, then you can scratch that itch on this website.
9. If you are still unsure about the laws
Of course, if you're worried about breaking any cycling laws, you are welcome to join one of our cycling tours. We will teach you the ins and outs of safe and legal cycling in Taiwan and well as take to to the best sites and attractions Taipei has to offer. You can check out our tours here!