A ROLLERCOASTER RIDE IN ASIA高低起伏的亞洲單車路

Discovery - - SRI LANKA 斯里蘭卡 -

IT’S THE FIRST thing veteran travellers say in Beijing or Bangkok, Hanoi or Mumbai: where have all the bikes gone?

As wealth and opportunity in Asia have grown, so has the use of first motorcycles and then cars.

The temperate cities of the Americas and Europe increasingly design their cities around the needs of two-wheeled, unmotorised commuters. In earlyadopter Copenhagen, 36 per cent of commutes are by bicycle. But in evermodernising Asia, where car ownership continues to rise, it might seem that the bicycle belongs to the era of black and white photos and big straw hats.

In fact, the picture is more complicated – and changing.

A 2015 Pew Research Center survey showed that bikes are still more common than cars globally. And two of the countries with the highest percentage of bike owners are Asian: Japan (78 per cent) and Thailand (74 per cent), behind only Germany.

World bicycle production fell drastically in the 1970s as car prices fell and incomes rose. According to the Earth Policy Institute the trend reversed in the early 1980s: global bike production climbed to 108 million by 1988. Between 1989 to 2001, production slowed down again.

Now the figures are again rising fast. Despite growing car ownership in China, 65 per cent of households have a bicycle. And now, you don’t even need to own one: the increasingly pollutionphobic country has the world’s greatest number of bike sharing schemes.

Taiwan – a global leader in bike manufacturing – has over 4,000 kilometres of bike lanes. Singapore has launched a National Cycling Plan. Only about one per cent of journeys are made by bike in the Lion City now – but with a 700-kilometre-long bike lane network planned, that will change. All they need are a few Danish-style cool breezes.

By John Burbage 任何經常到訪北京、曼谷、河內或孟買的旅客都會納罕:從前滿目皆是的單車到哪裡去了?

隨著亞洲日益富裕、商機處處,電單車和汽車已成為馬路上的霸主。

反觀歐美的溫帶城市卻愈來愈倚重以人力驅動的兩輪單車,作為主要的通勤工具。在這股風潮的先驅哥本哈根,現時約三成六人口以單車作為上下班的代步工具。但在熱衷於現代化的亞洲,擁有自用汽車的人數持續上升,單車似乎已被視為黑白照片年代的陳年舊物,合該跟農夫草帽一起被淘汰。

然而,情況其實更為複雜,而且不斷在變化。

皮龍研究中心於2015年進行的調查顯示,以全球而言,單車仍較汽車普及。擁有單車比率最高的兩個國家均在亞洲,分別是日本( 78%)及泰國( 74%),僅次於德國。

1970年代,汽車價格降低和人均收入提高,使全球的單車產量大幅下跌。根據美國地球政策研究所的資料顯示,跌勢在1980年代初逆轉,至1988年,全球單車產量更攀升至1.08億架,在1989至2001年,產量再度放緩。

現時,單車產量又再度急速攀升。雖然中國的自用汽車擁有率持續上揚,但擁有單車的家庭仍佔了六成半。他們甚至不需要去買一部:這個對污染問題愈來愈恐慌的國家,擁有全球為數最多的單車共享計劃。

領先全球的單車生產地台灣擁有逾4,000公里的單車徑;新加坡亦已推出「全國腳踏車推廣計劃」。雖然目前獅城的單車使用率只佔交通流量的百分之一,但政府已計劃興建全長

700公里的單車徑網絡,啟用後將改變當地的交通結構,在萬事俱備的情況下,新加坡只欠丹麥式的送爽涼風。撰文: JohnBurbage riders thrashing it out for all they were worth behind us.

Without gears the cyclists can only ride on the flat, so they stick to roads along the coastal strip – a mix of urban roads with commuter traffic, peppered with semi-rural snapshots and narrow, twisty backroads lined with houses and trees.

Turning off the main road, they dismounted and entered a small garden. An old, bearded man with wild hair, wearing nothing but a grubby sarong, greeted us with a huge smile.

This place is the daily breakfast stop for many of the local riders: a true Sri Lankan cyclist café, with none of the frills – not even a name. A stack of standard bikes was perched against the wall where aged images of Jesus and 1997 Tour de France winner Jan Ullrich covered the cracks. Roti and curry were served up along with a cup of sweet Ceylon tea. The owner emerged with a thumbnail-sized, hand carved bicycle, made from a coconut from his garden. It was my welcome present.

Beneath that jaded poster of Ullrich the café owner’s wife looked on. They had no real idea of who I was or why I was there, but they were so happy to see a foreigner as nuts about cycling as they were.

著一件襤褸紗籠的老翁,滿面笑容地走出來迎接我們。

這裡是當地單車手享用早餐的熱門地點,沒有花巧的裝潢,甚至連名字也沒有,完全切合斯里蘭卡單車手的風格。一排排的標準單車靠牆而立,褪色的耶穌肖像和1997年環法單車賽冠軍Jan Ullrich的海報,掩蓋著牆身的裂縫。這裡供應印度烤餅和咖哩,佐以香甜的錫蘭紅茶。老闆拿著一輛手指頭大的單車模型,是以園中的椰子雕成的,說是送給我的見面禮。

老闆娘站在殘舊的Ullrich海報下觀望,他們對我的身份和來意一無所知,卻樂見一個外國人跟他們一樣瘋狂熱愛單車。

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