by Eric Mader
As part of its efforts to "keep Taipei moving," the Taipei City Cultural Affairs Bureau will offer free walking lessons this year to interested residents. All city residents are strongly encouraged to sign up.
The walking lessons, to begin in June, will be held on a specially prepared walking course at the southeast corner of the Sun Yat-Sen Memorial Park. Principles of basic locomotion will be taught as well as various points of walking etiquette. The series of topics covered will be:
WEEK 1: Walking in a straight line
In this course students will learn how to put one foot in front of the other so as to move their bodies forward in a straight line. Focus will be on moving down a straight sidewalk without zigzagging randomly from one side to another. The lessons are free for all Taipei citizens, but women over 35 who participate will also receive a free bento lunch.
WEEK 2: Keep right
In this course the difficult principle of "keep right" will be taught and its advantages explained. To begin with students will practice keeping to the right as they walk in a variety of simple settings: on sidewalks, in and out of doors, etc. The final course will focus on a more advanced skill: keeping right while walking up and down a stairwell.
WEEK 3: Entrances and exits
In this third series of courses students will learn of the many places one can chat with friends other than the entrances and exits of public buildings. The use of entrances and exits will be explained, and students will practice walking in and out of buildings without stopping in the doorway to chat or stretch or consider the weather or decide where they're headed next.
WEEK 4: Elevators and escalators
Basic elevator and escalator etiquette will be discussed. A special additional course will be offered to explain the black and yellow entry and exit arrows painted on city MRT platforms.
Of the city's free walking lessons Mayor Ma Ying-Jeou has said: "We in Taipei have one of the best-educated populations in Asia. It's about time we learned how to use sidewalks, doors, and stairwells so as to help each other get around. For too long foreign visitors to our city have been shaking their heads and laughing at us. It's time we learned to move around like we are really in a city and not in the middle of a field."
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