For the visitor from overseas, Taipei's pavements must be quite a shock. Most major streets have a traditional, roofed interior pavement running in front of shops and a wider, outdoor pavement next to the road. Both have their special dangers. Shopkeepers in older districts tend to treat the interior pavement as an extension of their floor space. They add tables outside for al-fresco dining or pile up merchandise, until only a narrow passageway is left for pedestrians. Shops in upscale areas of eastern Taipei can be even worse. Concerned that flooding in the low-lying city will damage their expensive stock, they raise the interior pavement - sometimes by as much as 10cm. Then they tile it over with expensive-looking surfaces that become dangerously slippery when wet. More danger lurks on the outer pavement, which in practice is an extension of the road. Taipei's ubiquitous scooter riders find most of their parking on the edge of the outer pavement. So they have no choice but to ride their scooters to and from the road along the centre of that pavement. Pedestrians are brushed aside by scooter drivers exercising their God-given right to pavement parking. But, from the perspective of Taipei residents, the state of the city's pavements has steadily improved over the past seven years under the administration of outgoing mayor Ma Ying-jeou. Mr Ma began his first term with a campaign against luba - the 'road tyrants' who occupy public pavements by chaining them off, blocking them with pots and plants, or erecting other barriers to create private parking for cars. The campaign has been sustained for years, which is unusual, with an innovative website that citizens can use to report road tyrants. Even more unusually, Mr Ma has made sure that complaints are acted on swiftly and vigorously. He followed the anti-luba campaign with a policy of creating designated streets where interior pavements must be kept completely clear at all times. Despite initial grumbling from shopkeepers, the policy has radically improved foot traffic. Mr Ma has also tried to find alternative parking for scooters off the exterior pavements by carving out parking bays, in the pavements, that are accessible from the road. Overseas visitors are still unlikely to be impressed by the walking experience in Taipei. But residents feel grateful for the incremental but real improvements - especially when they visit other towns and cities in Taiwan. There, anarchy reigns unchecked on pavements that are blocked with parked cars, betel-nut stands and even private vegetable plots. Returning from several weeks of business in the south, one non-driving friend told me that she would never again take for granted the chance to walk on unobstructed pavements.