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YouBike system should be spread across all of Taiwan

The YouBike public bicycle rental system has been proven a huge success in the Taipei area, and it has made a promising start in Changhua County (彰化縣), where more than 100,000 people have already enjoyed a ride in the first month of service. The local government set up 750 bicycles at 22 rental stations around the county, home to 1.3 million people — the first time a locality outside of the Greater Taipei area has used the Giant-made YouBikes as part of its public transit infrastructure. That is good news.

Without a doubt, the new policy is poised to help improve public health in rural areas, further reduce global warming and promote eco-tourism, while offering an inexpensive way to commute for locals and an opportunity to attract other city dwellers and foreign tourists to the central part of the country. More importantly, this initiative is part of a positive strategy to reduce motorcycles on the streets and build on the successful experience of other cities and counties as well as reduce the operation and maintenance costs of the system for smaller regions like Changhua County, the smallest county in Taiwan by size. With a total population of 1.3 million, the area is for sure ranked the second-largest county by population after Taoyuan, but local authorities haven't offered any type of public bicycle rental system so far.

According to a survey by the Ministry of Education in 2012, over 70 percent of Taiwanese don't have an exercise habit. While our life expectancy has increased, most of us might suffer from various chronic diseases or even cancers before we reach retirement. Since exercising is key to help people live a healthy life, a public bike renting system can provide those who don't exercise with an opportunity to stretch, train their heart and improve their health. Thirty minutes of brisk cycling several times a week reduces the risk of developing coronary heart disease, adult diabetes and obesity by as much as 50 percent, according to various sources.

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