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November 21, 2012 / bikesbytesbites

Bicycles in Tokyo/Japan

Bicycle Parking

Yes, there are bicycles all over Tokyo. Bike paths are marked, mostly on sidewalks. Bicycles are parked all over the place. Most apartment buildings have sheltered bicycle parking, some with elaborate double-decker rack systems.

Bicycle Rack - TokyoBicycle Rack – Tokyo

But most parking on the streets appears a bit haphazard. Bicyclists are all over the place — except on the subway (metro) where they’re not allowed. Most of the bicycles are utilitarian — very heavy, with kickstands; some with center stands, like motorcycles. All have lights. Most have very large baskets. My favorite accessory was a set of brackets for carrying an umbrella — kind of like the less formal setup here.

Bicycle with Umbrella

Bicycle with Umbrella

These utility bikes have minimal locks. The most minimal is the old style that attaches to the stays, like a brake caliper, that simply prevents the bike from rolling.

Typical Utility Bike

Typical Utility Bike

I recognized bikes by some known bicycle manufacturers — Bridgestone (alive and well in the Japanese market), Giant.

Bridgestone Commuter Bike

Bridgestone Commuter Bike

I also recognized brands not usually noted as bicycle manufacturers — Chevrolet? Jeep? Hummer? In Japan, do car manufacturers have a profitable side line in bicycles?

Jeep and Chevrolet Bicycles

Jeep and Chevrolet Bicycles

And there were lots of folding bicycles, mostly inexpensive and sturdy ones, although I did see one Bike Friday. There are also hipster bicycles in Hong Kong, if you go to the hipster neighborhoods — I mostly saw these in Shibuya and Shinjuku. Familiar brands — Bianchi, Raleigh — but unfamiliar (to the US market) models. These shift levers are particularly intriguing.

Bianchi "hipster" Bike

Bianchi “hipster” Bike

So, am I sorry I didn’t bring my bicycle to Tokyo. Yes and no. The distance between my hotel and office was too short (1 mile) to really make it worth bicycling. Plus, I couldn’t have brought the bike into the office building. But the bicycling didn’t look that intimidating at all, especially since I’ve ridden in places like the UK and Australia, where vehicles drive/ride on the left. Maybe next time …

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One Comment

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  1. Donald Peters / Nov 30 2016 12:14 pm

    Bridgestone is a japanese company: Could have been called “idabashi” https://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Bridgestone

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