Montag, 18. Juni 2007

Kaohsiung (高雄) - 2nd part

The former mayor of Bogotá, Enrique Peñalosa, described during the Holcim Forum 2007, what a good city characterizes in his opinion. Some of the themes, that he mentions, were also noticed by the temporary resident of a big city in Taiwan. Therefor I decided to compare the thesis of Peñalosa with the current situation in Kaohsiung to get a better understanding of the live and development in Taiwan´s big cities. The first part will be continued:

This time "Maiden´s Prayer", composed by Tekla Badarzewska-Baranowska, is performed by a real musician and not by a Taiwanese garbage truck.

"Dammed cars! Of course, except mine ..." works only in the frame, that the government offers. When I went as a student from Dortmund (a university with incredible big and free parking lots, but regularly overcrowded, and with missing suitable urban transport connection til 1983) to ETH Hönngerberg in Zurich in the mid 1980s, I was surprised: high parking fees even for the students and no warranty to get a free place. So, it´s better to leave the car at home.

Since 1984 the H-Train with a length of 1 km connects the two campus of Dortmund university. Before there were many cars and few buses on the former village roads between the two places.

Peñalosa: “If car use is to be restricted, there must be good public transport. Transport is a social status game: From fancy cars, to trams instead of buses. Zurich is Europe’s richest city. Yet 60% of its population takes public transport every day and 20% walk or bicycle. Yet many upper middle class citizens of developing cities would not go near a bus or a subway.”

Siemens delivers Kaohsiung´s new metro trains, seen by Steve Schönemann in Hasloch, October 2, 2006 (Source:

Not really inviting looks the current urban transport in Kaohsiung 2007.

“Bicycles tend to integrate people in a more democratic manner. Bicycles are not a minor issue. They are central to the good city of the future. Bicycles are not for the poor: Denmark and the Netherlands have a higher income per capita than the United States. And nearly 40 % of their population use the bicycle daily. A protected bicycle way is a symbol of democracy. It shows that a citizen on a $ 20 bicycle is equally important as one on a $ 20,000 car. Quality sidewalks and protected bicycle paths are not cute architectural features: they are a right. Unless we believe that only those with access to a car have a right to safe individual mobility.”

A little couple rides bicycle in Gushan Road. If you don´t have the right to get a driver´s license and you lack of money this is the best manner of transport in Kaohsiung. If you have a driver´s license or enough money, don´t do it. It´s probably too dangerous.

“Sidewalks are the most important element of a civilized city’s infrastructure. Cars parked on sidewalks, or parking bays where there should be sidewalk, are symbols of inequality and lack of democracy. Quality sidewalks are a symbol that shows that citizens who walk are as important as those who have a car. A city that is safe and friendly to pedestrians and bicycles almost certainly is a good city.”

Even a short walk in Kaohsiung - like in almost all Taiwanese towns and cities - is a hurdle race: parked cars and scooters block the way, storepresent their goods on the sidewalk. You have to cross the kitchen of restaurants and wokshop. The construction of the new metro offers the chance to give roads a new design with wide sidewalks.

“Is public pedestrian space a frivolity in a developing country city facing many difficult challenges? Tourism is a pedestrian activity. Most of what provides joy and is memorable in a city are its pedestrian spaces. Most of what government at the national or local level do are MEANS to eventual wellbeing. Public pedestrian space is an END in itself. IT IS QUALITY OF LIFE ITSELF.”

Public pedestrian zones like in Germany are unknown in Kaohsiung and other Taiwanese cities. Although the café at the “Urban Spot Light” is still closed, people like to sit here and enjoy the space in a central area free of cars and scooters.

“Lack of access to green spaces may become the main factor of exclusion. A good city provides many free pleasures. No child should grow farther than 3 blocks from a park.”

The Central Park of Kaohsiung was a former sports ground and got recently a new design. The artificial pound with a big bridge looks very expansive. Lees expansive design elements and more parks could be a better solution for the city.

“Waterfronts are so unique, they should never be private and exclusive. Waterfronts should have pedestrian infrastructure, preferably without motor-vehicles alongside. This are most memorable places of a city, not its highways.”

The love river is an example of the urban transformation in Kaohsiung. Once the rivers drained the fields and the plains. Then it became a cloaca of the industrialized city. After many improvements the promenades and cafes along the river invite now visitors in the evening and at the weekend.

A new big project is the development of the abandoned harbour area between pier 1 and 22. When the harbour administration gave up the usage, it became the biggest pedestrian area of Kaohsiung. Here is the place where the city can change from an Asian boomtown to a real ocean capital.

“The challenge for a good city is to improve public transport and spaces for pedestrians an cyclists. Wherever people use public transport, it is rarely out of love for the environment. In a truly advanced city, rich and poor are integrated as equals in many locations and activities: transport, sidewalks, bicycle-ways, libraries, parks, cultural activities.”

Bicyclist rides on a former industrial railway line along the recently opened harbour area. Though the weather condition with heat, typhoons and heavy rainfalls are sometimes harsh, at least people are sometimes willing to leave their air conditioned cars, if they see useful alternatives.

View from the former British Consulate to the harbor side of Kaohsiung, that is full of chances.

Keine Kommentare:

Kommentar veröffentlichen

Danke für deinen Beitrag! Um Spam und andere böse Sachen auszuschließen, wird der Kommentar von Luo You vor der Freigabe gelesen. / Thanks for your contribution! To avoid spam your comment will be published after Luo You´s check.