Japanese public transport such as bus and train is pretty good to provide the services in terms of punctuality and frequency compared to any other country, still, the bicycle is a very useful means of transport in Japan as well. Do you know that some municipalities have the service called “community-cycling”? It is not a new thing for some of you that I am aware that it is available in Europe, but it has started about 5-6 years ago in Japan.
What is Community Cycling (Bicycle Sharing) ?
Although the system is slightly varied depending on the municipalities, the main idea is to rent the bicycle as usual. But the difference from the bicycle rental shop is that you can get a bicycle from a cycle port and drop to another port. The numbers of cycle sport are also different among municipalities, but usually being located in the tourist attractions including the stations. Hence, you can quickly access and rent it, then travel as long as you wish. If it is within the certain minutes (usually they have an offer for 30 minutes as a minimum), you would pay only minimum fees such as 100 JPY. Some may have a day, a week or monthly fee, so if your stay in Japan only for a short while, it would be worth checking it.
You need to register in advance, but it can be done quickly by mobile and/or computer. IC card or password will be used for fetching a bicycle for hire at the cycle port. Here are websites in some cities which tell you how to register and rent one.
In Tokyo area;
In Kansai area;
If you google it, I am sure that you can find the services in your city too!
Rules for cyclists in Japan
However, we must be careful to ride it because of the congestion and density, especially in the bigger city. Due to the increase of accident with the bicycle, Japanese police has announced and started strict controls over cyclist last year. Here are some rules in case you ride a bicycle, which could be a normal thing for your country, but many people in Japan neglect to do so.
- The basic rules are as same as driving a car – you ride a bicycle on the left side of the road, not in the pedestrian’s pavement. Follow the traffic light if specified for a bicycle.
- As same as you drive a car, literally it is prohibited to drive when you are drunk.
- Use the smart phone and put an earphone to listen to the music.
- Riding bicycle with two unless it has a special seat for kids
- Put a light on when dark
The weather is getting warmer, so why don’t you try riding a bicycle for a change? You may find something new from small streets.