Recently in Bicycle Category

Sept.21,2018 A ride with Japan Cycle Tours group (Cycle Tokyo!)

I'm running a volunteer group focusing on Tokyo cycling assistance for visitors from overseas.
We do guided rides with guests, one of which we did on Sept.21.

Cycle Tokyo! :

LSD(Long Slow Distance) Riding along the Tone River

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Two weeks before Golden Week, some of Cycle Tokyo! members went out riding along the Tone River located north of Tokyo, started from Kurihashi and headed for Takasaki City, Gunma Prefecture.


A one way ride just around 90Km total, was a very smooth one thanks to light follow wind. We packed our bikes and took them on the train to Kurihashi, and on the way back home from Takasaki.


A continuous carpet of very bright yellow Cole Flower (Celery cabbage) spreads along the cycling road, in full bloom just about now.

View 2012/04/21 Kurihashi to Takasaki Cycling in a larger map

April to May is a very good time to cycle here in the Kanto area.

Living Abroad in Japan

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Living Abroad In Japan is a really nice book about everyday life, travel and culture in Japan. Just about everything you'll want to know (and need to know) about Japanese life. In addition to detailed and up-to-date (second edition, published September 2008 !) information about life in Japan, the book gives the reader a very good veiw of all parts of Japan by covering all regions of Japan. A great read whether you're planning a trip to Japan, or you're just dreaming about one !

The book recommends bicycles as a very good transportaion method, and mentions Cycle Tokyo! as a good resource for Tokyo biking information. Guess what... the book is written by Ruthy Kanagy, our Bike Friday advisor ! :-) Since she has experience living in Japan herself, the book is really down to earth in terms of living information.

Tokyo City Atlas: A Bilingual Guide (Revised Ed.) (Paperback)

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A good map to Tokyo with all locations in English and Japanese.

Share the Road License Plates

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Some states in the US have license plates with a "Share the Road" message and design for for bike concious drivers to put on their cars. Tokyo needs to get the same message accross and educate to the drivers that bikes have their spot on the road, and are vehicles that belong on the road, not just the sidewalks.
Though this is one good way to do so, the Japanese traffic authorities needs to first authorize designed license plates :- (

The Media picking up on New Traffic Recommendation

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There is an editorial out on the English version of Asahi Shinbun on the topic I raised about the law change leading to bicycles being forced up on the sidewalks. Satoshi Hikita is a well-known advocate on bicycle culture, especially bike commuting.
The issue has caught interest of the Japanese media as well, several newspapers and magazines plan to publish articles and editorials on this subject, Hikita says. Several TV programs are expected to follow.

Forcing Bikes on Sidewalks ??

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I have to write this to alert the world about how changes in bicycle traffic laws might start to move in a whacky direction in Japan. Though the editorials by the mass media often do a good job at these kinds of things, I unfortunately could not find any articles on this topic in English. This is probably because the movement doesn't seem so controversial at a glance, thus considered not worth being taken up by overseas media.

Here's the story.

The National Police Agency is taking a second look in 30 years at the currentlt ambiguous positioning of bicycles in Japan which by the law are designated as vehicles, and required to run on the roadway. However, bikes have practically been allowed to run both on sidewalks as well as roadways regardless of what the law states, resulting in a majority of them being ridden on the sidewalk. This situation has lead to an increase of bicycle and pedestrian related accidents, in which pedestrians are injured.
The agency plans to define requirements for bikes allowed on sidewalks in the revised bill planned for submission at the next regular diet, in an attempt to clarify the positioning of bicycles on roads. The objective is said to avoid the increase of accidents between pedestrians and bicycles on the sidewalks.
The revised bill is said to keep the fundamental rule of bicycles on the roadway, at the same time clearly stating for the first time that bikes will be allowed on sidewalks in certain cases, for example in situations below :

  • When children, the elderly, and people making frequent stops in front of stores (for shopping purposes) being the riders
  • When riding in places where roadway riding is deemed dangerous

Seems like a step in the right direction ? Think again.

Look at the bill this way.
Instead of proposing a safe solution to separate bicycles from pedestrians (which should be the natural way to go towards the said-to-be-objective), the agency has opted to clarify cases where bikes should ride on sidewalks WITH pedestrians. This results in a lack of essence to lead bicycles on to the roadway where they basically should be, and in contrast justifies bicycles on sidewalks with pedestrians.
Doesn't this seem strange ? By becoming a little bit doubtful, it's easy to imagine a hidden intent here. In dangerous cases where bikes are allowed on sidewalks, who would actually deem roadway riding dangerous? Answer : the cops on the streets. The revised bill would give the police clearly stated rights to pick bicycles off the roadway and on to the sidewalks at their own leisure saying "this road is dangerous".
Cyclists (and non-cyclists) in Japan being aware of the agency's past attitude towards bicycles can see the hidden intent to gradually pave way leading bikes off roadways and on to the sidewalks. The proposed bill would act as a step in that direction. There is talk about an existance of a group inside the police which may pull off something like this. They are said to have a position against bicycles being a part of vehicle traffic, and in favor of putting them aside with pedestrians. Some sources back up this existence of these board members within the group who have written up this proposal.

Sources also say that once the bill is presented to the diet, the possibility of it being opposed (or even seriously debated upon) is very low.

First of all, what a shame that the Police Agency has come up with this hipocratic bill in order to deceive us cyclists. Why do they have to trick us with numbers ? Where is the debate ?

Second, there seems to be nothing wrong with the current law regarding the relationship between pedestrians and bikes. Bicycles are vehicles belonging on the roadway with automobiles. It a matter of enforcement, making the law known thoroughly to drivers, cyclists, through the education system.

Third, the idea of picking bicycles off from the roadways and on to the sidewalks doesn't look at all convincing as tackling the problem of growing accidents head on. It's about time the authorities seriously take on the issue of giving bicycles an independent position in the traffic ecosystem instead of regarding them as "something in between peds and cars".

That "independent position"should take shape as bike lanes on the roadways. It will be difficult, but it has to be done. After all, Japan is a country where 2 out of 3 of the population own bicycles, by the numbers. WE NEED BIKE LANES, especially in metropolitan areas.

Lastly, cyclists also have to take on their part in thinking about bicycle's concrete position in the traffic society, and coexistence with other means of traffic. Cyclists have to act responsible towards this.

The relationship between pedestrians and bikes seem to be safe and friendly in places overseas. It may be that we haven't seen the dark side, and each place has it's problems with bikes and peds, it 's something worth looking in to and sharing.

The first step in voicing out against the bill is to publicize the situation in and out.
Let's spread the word.

・ASAHI com (Japanese) :

Cycle Oregon 2006

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Well, I'm back. Actually, it's 3 weeks since my return from Oregon, and I'm beginning to settle down at last.

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Cycle Oregon 2006(CO2006) was great ride, verrry well organized, and first class service considering you are on a camping trip !
No event in Japan will compare to this event in terms of organization and setup. 80 miles (and up) with hills everyday for 6 days was a bit overwork for us. Though we were able to ride it through, a shorter distance may have helped with more room for us to enjoy the scenery, nightly activities at the campsite, and interaction with more people. (We were basically asleep right after dinner, our bodies couldn't take any more...) We'll, I guess that's our problem, and the distance must of been adequate for the rest of the riders who were enjoying the evening festivities :-)

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Though very tiring (HOT, and COLD !) whilst on the road, it was a surprise that I wasn't in any pain with cramps or muscle aches in finishing the ride. My knees did hurt on the 2nd day due to bad positioning , but a position check (bike fitting) at the end of the thrid day took care of that. (Should have done it first thing.)


I do have alot of things to talk about this event, too much that it'll take time to sort out and have it written in English.
One thing, it's a surprise to me that against my assupmtion that I would be most moved by the Oregon nature and wilderness, my strongest feeling towards CO2006 now is how interesting it was to meet and talk with different people and personalities. It was also interesting to think about the American thinking, motivation, and expectation that makes something like this happen. (2000 tents, showers, kitchens, a bike shop, coffee shop, ice cream shop, beer garden and pizzeria, practically a small village all moving along with 2000 cyclists ! )

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Since I started putting out information on this site about my bicycles and cycling, I've been constantly getting inquires from overseas asking for advice about cycling in Tokyo, and places to ride. Looking around the internet myself, I found out that there was lack of information (both in English AND Japanese !) on cycling in Tokyo.
As a Tokyoite cyclist, I felt it a natural thing to do to promote cycling in Tokyo, provide our knowledge and information out to the world, and help out people visiting (and living in) Tokyo to go about cycling. After all, cycling IS the best way to tour various places in Tokyo at your own pace ! Luckily, a few of my fellow cyclist buddies felt the same when talking to them, so we started something called the "Cycle Tokyo ! Project" at the beginning of the year. After few months of gathering information, test rides and discussions, we now have a new website and volunteer cycling guide service.

Cycle Tokyo ! :

This site is intended to assist overseas visitors interested in cycling around Tokyo. The site will provide tips on cycling in the city, and introduce a variety of actual courses to ride making cycling in Tokyo a worthwhile one. Of course, the site will also be useful to local cyclists that reside in Tokyo.
There are tourist sites, and there are cycling sites out there. However, one of the features of this site that makes it outstanding is our list of actual cycling "tour" ride courses (in detail, including maps and GPS logs !) in and around Tokyo. This is something few sites offer. As we go on with this activitiy, more and more courses will be added, providing many choices.

Here's some of the stuff you will find in this site : (from the Cycle Tokyo ! flyer)

  • Tokyo Bike Tours : We'll present you with actual plans for bicycle rides around Tokyo. There's a detailed course map, route information, GPS logs etc.
  • Let Us Guide You! : We can guide your Tokyo ride !
  • Tokyo Cycling Blog : Info on what's going on in Tokyo NOW.
  • Riding Essentials : Hints and tips on how to have a good time riding in Tokyo.

Cycle Tokyo ! information(flyer - pdf) :

We're looking forward to lots of access, and people making use of the information.
This is a growing project, so we will always welcome feedback and comments that will help make the contents more useful. Contact the project at : cycle-tokyo"at-mark" (replace "at-mark" with "@")

Sloppy but Satisfying Riding

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Weekends in Tokyo this spring were very frustrating for cyclists, with rain for (7? 8? many for sure)consecutive weeks. Then after a couple of sunny ones, came Tsuyu, the rainiy season. We sure impoved on Majong and table tennis, but no biking. We were verrry lucky that the day we hosted the 2nd Tokyo Cheescake Pottering Ride with 19 riders didn't rain....until everyone got home !
The Utusukushigahara HillClimb Race came the weekend after with good weather, but down we were with a bad cold ! (We didn't even get to Matsumoto, the race location.)
When I had the chance to take my bike out at last for a run on a cloudy (coudln't ask for more in this situation...) Saturday morning, it was as though I was a dog being unleashed out in the open. I couldn't believe how frustrated I had been because of lack of riding seriously (of course according to my standards...) in so long. It was a short 3 hour ride along Tamagawa River, but I soon found out I was pushing hard as I could without any thinking. I must have been riding really sloppy without thinking about a smooth ride, because my knees started aching that evening. In any case, satisfaction won over anything else, and the aches were peaceful ones.