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Ayumi Hamasaki

Suzumiya Haruhi

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Bicycles in Japan

07/15/07

Bicycles in Japan

  03:38:08 am, Categories: Japan

I've talked about it in my travel blog, but I'm gonna tell you a bit more about bicycles in Japan. Let's say 90% of all bicycles in Japan look about exactly the same, whether it's used by males or females, there is no difference. These are simple and cheap bicycles.

But they have a few typical characteristics:
- they all have a metal basket in front of their steering wheel. This can indeed be very handy to put your bag in, so that's actually very convenient. Usually they also have a kickstand and a lock.
- they all put their saddle to the lowest possible height. so if you're a bit bigger, your knees can almost touch your chin. These are safety regulations because you have to be able to put both your feet flat on the ground when you are sitting on a bike.
- this third characteristic is more of a general annoyance, half the brakes on these bikes screech like hell. Apparently this is good, because then the pedestrians are aware of them, but mostly they make my ears go deaf and get a chill down my spine :p.
I read that bicycle theft is still quite common in Japan, and therefore bicycle can be registered with the police for a small fee.

Image taken from Japan-guide.com

Also, there are no bicycle paths on the road, so they have to drive on the sidewalk, through all the pedestrians... Even though Japanese law states that bikes have to ride on the street, and not on the sidewalk, they do so anyway. So I've had many near close encounters with them when I was in Japan, and you really learn to actually behave like when you're driving a car: when you want to go left/right, first look behind your left/right, and then go left/right. Otherwise, you're bound to (almost) bump into a bicycle that is racing through the crowd.

Also there are special parking lots for bicycles at train station, sometimes even multi-story. When the rare occasion arises that there are not places to put them, they are just put in every possible space, even if there is a sign that says it's not allowed. This sometimes leads to confiscation by the local police :)

This is actually one of the only annoyances in Japan, but you learn to live with it :)

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