Saturday, January 14, 2006

Help the Professor Help the Mayor Help Save Taichung


This image was originally posted at Achille Superbi

This morning I woke up early to drive Alice to the airport bus and came home for some Saturday morning reading. There was a frightening article in the Guardian, about the stalemate over Iran's nuclear power program, which included the line,
But in Washington President George Bush indicated that the time for talking had passed.

I don't know which is more frightening, The deja-vu-like statements from Bush, or the new German Chancellor, Angela Merkel's, Tony Blair impressions,
Ms Merkel said unity was essential in facing the Iranian threat and added that Europe and the US "will certainly not be intimidated".

I also came across a post at The View from Taiwan where Professor Turton is asking for suggestions about how to improve Taichung for foreigners. He has been asked for this advice by the Honorable Jason Hu's mandarins. You may remember Mayor Hu from his latest Pavaroti ad. I replied as follows,

How should we improve Taichung for all it's people?

Like some of the people above, I would love to see an army of tow trucks wiping the streets clean of double and triple parked cars.

Like some of the people above, I would love to see the sidewalks cleared of scooters and stands and walls and garbage. It must be possible, even in Taiwan, because they accomplished it in Taipei.

(My favourite thing about going to Taipei is being able to walk around on the sidewalks without constantly having to walk out onto the street.)

And like some of the people above I would also prefer being able to breathe the air instead of being able to see it. This is the biggest obstacle of all. No single solution exists to combat a problem this enormous, but a comprehensive solution including,

1. abolishing the sale and use of 2-stroke scooters,

2. running a lot more electric buses,

3. publicly subsidizing and requiring all taxis to convert over to LPG engines,

4. and planting trees everywhere there is space might get us part way there.

The costs are huge, but the economic benefits due to increased productivity through less sick days for employers and lessening the strains on the healthcare system alone would greatly offset these costs.

Mayor Hu should throw all his weight, and some of that KMT gold, into creating parks and parking spaces...

And an army of rabid tow trucks and Bobcat sidewalk clearers, and public trash cans and recycling bins, and staggeringly high fines (and corporal punishments) for littering, and an MRT (with an arm out to the new airport that they decided to put in Miao Li for some reason), and a Taichung branch of the National Palace Museum.

And Michael, when you see him, could you please ask him to clean up the debris in the canal on Hwa Mei West Road that's been there since Super-typhoon Haitang left in July, and replant at least some of the trees that were torn up there.

Thanks Professor,

Sincerely,
Sean

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