A great way to explore the city of Taipei is to use the YouBike system. This city-wide bike sharing program allows for affordable and environmentally friendly transportation all year round. Renting a bike will take you places that the MRT cannot go, so if you’re keen to see some off-the-beaten-path gems of Taipei, follow these instructions.
Finding A Bike Terminal
Finding a terminal is easy – they are all over the city. You can generally find terminals beside MRT stations (捷运), but there are many more sprawled throughout the city. Here’s a map of available stations.
If there are no bikes available at the station you chose, you can use the on-screen display to view the number of free bikes at surrounding stations. Unfortunately, the on-screen display requires you to be familiar with Taipei city, as it doesn’t have maps indicating the overall location, just a zoomed in photo. Take a photo of the screen and head somewhere with Wifi if you can’t figure it out.
How To Rent The Bikes
It’s incredibly easy. For instructions, choose the type of person you are below (visiting Taipei, or staying forever probably because of the food).
If You’re Renting Once
If you don’t plan on being in Taipei for a long time, the only thing you’ll need to rent a bike is a credit card. Approach any one of the terminals, choose English, and follow the onscreen instructions. Eventually the system will open up a Web Browser where you can input your credit card number. Once the transaction is complete, you select the bike number you’d like, and the system will unlock the bike for you. Simply grab it and away you go.
When you’re finished your ride, click your bike back into any station across Taipei (it doesn’t have to be the same one you started at) and the system will flash. While it doesn’t tell you the total cost in TWD, you may view the receipt on your credit card statement. Note: For about a month after you will still have a “posted transaction” on your account as a deposit for the bike. Unless you stole the bike or tossed it in the river, this fee will disappear after a few weeks, and you won’t have to pay it.
If You’re Renting More Than Once
If you plan to be a permanent or semi-permanent member of the Taipei biking community, I would recommend setting up the system with your EasyCard (your metro card). In addition to your easy card you will also need a Taipei phone number. There are a lot of prepaid plans out there – I generally paid no more than 10 dollars a month for about 2 gigs of data, which with WiFi was plenty.
To setup your EasyCard, follow the on-screen instructions at the terminal, and enter your Taiwanese phone number proceeded by a 0 instead of the country code. The terminal will send you a verification code, you’ll tap your card, and the registration is complete.
Now whenever you want to rent a bike, you simply approach the bike (not the terminal), tap your card next to it and take the bike. When returning, you lock your bike into the rack and tap your card again. The system will tell you and automatically deduct the total cost from your easy card (it won’t be very much).
It’s a great way to explore Taipei, it’s inexpensive, good for the environment, and healthy. Check it out!