New Bike Bridges Show the City Puts People First／自行車橋 以人為本的城市地景
New Bike Bridges Show the City Puts People First
◎English translation: Tan Shu-chun
◎Photos by Pao Chung-hui
Kaohsiung City's network of bike trails totals 630 kilometers, and is integrated with other forms of transportation. The bike system not only gives citizens and tourists a convenient way to get around the city, but showcases the city government's ongoing effort to build an eco-friendly transportation environment. Back in 2010, CNN's website rated Kaohsiung as one of Asia's five best cities for cycling.
The biking network is expected to reach 700 kilometers in total length by the end of this year, and the city government is planning to construct two bike bridges that will give cyclists and pedestrians a safer transportation environment, while at the same time diversifying the city's landscapes. Architect Wang Syu-jhong says these two new bike bridges will be located in transportation hubs where the traffic load is very heavy as multiple highways converge. Wang is one of the architects who worked on the bike bridges now adorning Zuoying and Cianjhen districts.
Unlike other traditional infrastructure projects, Wang believes public bike systems should be empowered with additional functions. Kaohsiung's first bicycle bridge is located on Cueihua Road, close to the popular tourist attractions, Lotus Pond and Jhouzih Wetland Park. Wang explains that the design team incorporated natural elements into the concept. For example, people can see cloud-shaped ceilings, under which there are gardens where vines grow. The bridge structure itself reflects its neighborhood. For example, vines crawl along the bridge arch, and planting is a key element in the design. If you stand beneath the bridge and look up, you will see a complicated joist structure. The steel planks of the bridge arch are carved into irregular shapes mimicking the trees in the nearby Kaohsiung Indigenous Plant Garden. Benches have been placed on the bridge so cyclists and pedestrians can sit and enjoy the view.
The Cianjhen District Jhongshan-Kaisyuan Bike Bridge is a landmark of sculpture. Wang says its design concept was inspired by the fairytale Jack and the Beanstalk, as well as the "Tree of Life" in the Hollywood blockbuster movie Avatar. The bridge embodies the city's tremendous vigor. Its linear structure spreads out, like vines crawling through the seemingly harsh urban jungle. Ceilings decorated with geometric shapes, together with simple lighting, add to the bridge's stylish allure.
Wang recalls that on several occasions he has strolled along the Jhongshan-Kaisyuan Bike Bridge, and seen students picnicking and chatting on the wooden planks. For an architect, there are few experiences more rewarding than seeing and knowing citizens are making the best of his design. While heavy traffic roars below, the bike bridge stands tall and firm, safeguarding those on bicycles or on foot. More importantly, the bridge showcases the true spirit of Kaohsiung, a friendly city which always puts its people first.
高雄市綿延630公里的自行車道，串連不同的大眾運輸路網，便捷了市民和旅客，也彰顯了高雄市持續建構綠色友善的運輸環境，美國媒體CNN 曾評選高雄為亞洲五大最適合騎乘單車城市之一。今(2014)年高雄市的自行車道將達700公里，帶動健康的休憩風氣 。隨著自行車道延伸，市府建構多座造型優雅的自行車橋，車友和行人得以更安全地在城市間行進著，營造友善的交通環境外，也豐富了城市的地景。