September 26, 2015

Over the years some great stories have appeared on Tokyo By Bike, but unfortunately they quickly get lost in amongst the sheer number of articles posted. Below are what I consider to be some of the stand out articles from Tokyo By Bike, the ones that remain popular despite their age, and the articles I point people to the most when they're seeking information. I believe these articles combined go a long way to giving an overview of what cycling is really like in Japan and what the Tokyo By Bike site is all about.


A lot of what makes everyday cycling work in Japan isn't infrastructure its Japanese society, people, their attitudes and the cities themselves. I've been observing cycling in Japan for almost 20 years and he articles below summarise many of my findings.

What makes Japan a great cycling nation?

Japan is ranked by Copenhagenize founder Mikael Colville-Andersen as the third great cycling nation behind The Netherlands and Denmark. At the time I read this, despite having lived in Japan over a decade, even I found that information surprising but looking around me I shouldn't have. Learning that someone like Mikael held Japan in such high regard changed my perspective on cycling in Japan and shifted my focus from recreational cycling to everyday cycling. I set out to find what makes cycling such a poplar form of transport for millions of Japanese people every day in this article and surprised even myself with what I discovered. Read article.

How Suburban Tokyo Promotes Cycling (Without even trying)

In the article above I discovered that the design of Tokyo's neighbourhoods plays a vital role in keeping cyclist numbers high despite the lack of infrastructure. This article explores that idea in more detail demonstrating that compact self contained neighbourhoods promote cycling as a viable form of transport and that there exists a symbiotic relationship between a healthy cycling culture and successful small businesses. Read article.

Why Suburban Japan is Teeming With Female Cyclists

Despite a lack of cycling infrastructure Japanese cities are teeming with female cyclists. Cities around the world are actively encouraging more women to cycle, maybe they could learn something from Japan? Unfortunately emulating Japan in this case may not be the most desirable course of action. Read on to find out why. Read article.

Japan's Cycling Seniors

Everyone in Japan cycles and that includes the elderly. Cycling keeps them health both physically and mentally, but more than this it keeps them connected with their community and helps them to remain socially active in a way that car centric communities can not. Everything should be done to accommodate elderly cyclists as the benefits for both them and society are enormous. Read article.

Japanese Cycling Laws

Cycling laws in Japan are poorly understood end even more poorly enforced. This is both good and bad as it gives cyclists great freedom in choosing where and how to ride without fear of copping a fine, but alternatively if we're not all reading from the same page accidents will occur.

Of Bicycle Laws in Japan and Other Mythical Beasts

This ever popular article from way back in 2009 gives a quick overview of Japanese cycling rules, and he penalties for not complying with them. But as few people actually follow the rules I suggest everyone follow just one rule "Exercise some common sense and ride safely". Read article.

Why Bicycle Laws in Japan Are Like Monopoly Rules

Cycling laws in Japan go largely untaught and unenforced which has resulted in the Japanese people evolving the laws over time into an unwritten yet generally understood set of rules most people abide by. (I get hammered for this opinion constantly, but it is one I stand by, and I think its wonderful that people have come up with their own set of rules rather than having them enforced upon them from above.) Read article.

Cycling Infrastructure

When city planners in Tokyo think of cycling infrastructure they consider noting more than providing enough parking lots, and the processes that need to be in place to deal with abandoned and illegally parked bicycles. Bicycle lanes are largely nonexistent in Tokyo but with the Olympics arriving in 2020 there is a new focus on cycling infrastructure in the city, but is it misguided?

The Various Designs of Tokyo's Bicycle Lanes

The Tokyo Metropolitan Government administers just a small percentage of the roads in Tokyo with the rest being controlled by the cities individual wards who are all using a different playbook when it comes to designing bicycle lanes which has resulted in a wide variety of different styles of bicycle lanes popping up all over the city. This article takes a look at a number of those designs from around the city. Read article.

Sidewalk Circus

Despite the controversy sidewalk cycling stirs up it works better than you'd expect in Tokyo and until the government can provide safe protected bicycle lanes I believe cyclists are better off on the sidewalk as long as they ride safely and respect the rights of pedestrians. Here is an article I wrote on the topic for Metropolis Magazine. Read article.

Bicycle Commuting

I've been a bicycle commuter for as long as I remember and as such there is quite a bit of commentary about bicycle commuting in the metropolis of Tokyo. Tokyo may not seem the easiest place in which to cycle to work but believe me, it is, and doing so will add so much more joy to your days.

Japan's National Bike To Work Ban

OK, I'll admit that this subject is pure click bait. There is no national ban on cycling to work in Japan, but that does not change the fact that many employers actively discourage their employees from cycling to work which in a country with so many utilitarian cyclists is just insane. Given the nature of Japanese employees not to fight the system employers have effectively bullied their employees from partaking in one of the healthiest modes of transport around. Read article.

How Many Japanese Cycle To Work

Given that employers threaten bicycle commuters with all kinds of punishments if they disobey company rules and cycle to work just how many people are cycling to work in Japan? This article pulls some figures together to paint a picture of just how people in Japan are travelling to work. Read article.

Employer Benefits Of Bicycle Commuting

Occasionally someone who works at a company that has asked them to stop bicycle commuting will contact me to explore their options. Of course I encourage them to stand up to their employers as they have no legal right to dictate an employees mode of transport to work. But I also try to get them to make their employer aware of all the benefits cycling employees bring their business. Read article.

Encouraging Employees to Cycle to Work

Despite this gloomy outlook for commuter cyclists in Japan some businesses are actively trying to encourage more employees to cycle to work so I furnish them with these tips to bring more people into the bicycle commuting fold. Read article.

Bicycle Commuting in Tokyo? Are You Insane?

Cycling to work in a city that boasts safe, clean and efficient public transport systems, and one whose morning rush hour roads are jam packed full of cars sounds like an insane activity, but I have my reasons or choosing to cycle to work. Read article.

How To Turn Any Mountain Bike Into A Commuter Bike

I've converted my old mountain bike into a sturdy commuter bicycle which I think is perfect for Tokyo. Fast and light, yet strong enough to take a few hits in the bicycle parking lot. If you're looking for the perfect commuter bike, maybe it already exists in your garage, you just haven't realised yet. Read article.


Japanese city bikes do not receive the love they deserve.

Introducing the Mamachari

The mamachari is the family station wagon of Japan. For the most part they're cheap, reliable and perfect for daily tasks such as ferrying one or more children to school doing the shopping and taking yourself to the station. They're under appreciated and I want to change that. Read article.

Why Cargo Bikes Face A Tough Market In Japan

I love cargo bikes, and wish I had one when my children were smaller and I had to carry all that play equipment to the part for weekend picnics, but given the cost and versatility of the Japanese mamachari bicycle I believe cargo bikes face a tough time entering the Japanese market. Read article.

How To

A collection of articles on how things are done in Japan to help you out.

Can I take my bicycle on the train in Japan?

Sure you can, but it has to be partially disassembled and packed neatly into a bicycle bag (or failing that some garbage bags from the nearest convenience store!) Read article.

How To Register Your Bicycle in Japan

All bicycles in Japan must be registered, and display a registration sticker. Although the sticker is easily removed the police rely on this system to return stolen bicycles to their owners. If you're caught riding a bicycle without a sticker the police can detain you under suspicion of being a bicycle thief and can even confiscate your bicycle. This article has links to all the forms require to register your bicycle and transfer ownership of a bicycle to another person. Read article.

Traveling from Narita Airport to Tokyo with a Bicycle

Tokyo's main international airport isn't even in Tokyo which makes transporting your bicycle from the airport to the city a bit of a challenge. This article explains some of the options available. Read article.

11 Tips For Cyclists New To Tokyo

You may be an experienced and confident urban cyclists, but each city is different. This article points our some common dangers and dangerous practices that may be unique to cycling in Japanese cities. Read article.

How To Cycle Japanese Style

On second thought, maybe you shouldn't follow these tips. Read article.

There are literally hundreds of articles about cycling in Japan on Tokyo By Bike. I've highlighted many of my favourites and most popular ones here, but often surprise even myself when I dig up a forgotten article from the past. Please do explore the site and do not hesitate to contact me if you can't find just the information you're looking for.
Gillette World Sport recently visited the Japan Keirin School in Shuzenji to document the training regimes that students undergo in order to reach their full potential as professional keirin racers.

The first keirin event in Japan was organised by the local government in the city of Kokura in 1948 as a gambling event to raise funds for post-war reconstruction and as a way to develop the lucrative bicycle industry. From there it has grown into a nationwide spectacle with 47 velodromes around Japan each hosting events on 70 days of the year.  Almost 2,500 professional racers participate in keirin events nationwide making it Japan's largest professional sport. From its humble beginnings keirin has become an official Olympic event, increasing its profile and popularity internationally. Olympic keirin debued at the 2000 Sydney Games and the first Japanese racer to win an Olympic medal was Kiyofumi Nagai took 3rd place for Japan at the 2008 Beijing Olympics.

Despite the popularity of keirin races overseas the sport suffers a serious image problem in Japan due to its association with gambling. In an interview in the World Sport video one Keirin School trainer explains how they impart on their students the importance to perform due of the huge amounts of money riding on each race, demonstrating that gambling, not sport is the root of keirin in Japan. Annual sales of betting tickets reach approximately 800 billion yen, with roughly 60 million tickets sold each year which demonstrates that keirin in Japan is clearly more about gambling than cycling.

The video also shows how regimented the lives of new recruits is, with students sporting mandatory shaved heads taking part in military like training and drills. While trainers stress the importance of incorporating new technologies into the sport one can't feel that the strict training regimes that strip racers of their individuality are stuck deep in the past. Indeed you could argue that it is the lack of charismatic riders that is also hindering the sport.

Visit any velodrome in Japan and you'll notice most spectators are males, in their 50's or over, who reek of tobacco and alcohol, who would gladly skip work to visit the track and they're most certainly more interested in gambling than cycling.  Each time I've visited velodromes in Japan most punters have been indoors, smoking, placing bets and watching numbers flash across monitors rather than out in the stands cheering on the racers.

With training regimes stuck in the past, and an ageing audience slowly smoking and drinking itself to oblivion Keirin needs to clean up its act in order to appeal to a younger audience who are less and less likely to be keen on gambling.

Promoters are trying hard to lift the image of keirin in Japan but are failing miserably as are promoters of Japan's other gambling related sports, horse and motor boat racing. The keirin website has a page encouraging people to "take part". I clicked expecting to find times I could visit and ride the velodrome track with my friends, or join amateur races only to discover a page informing me how easy it is to fill out a betting form!

The recent fixie boom in Japan drew young people who previously had no interest in cycling what so ever to the bicycle in droves and handed keirin a golden opportunity to attract young people to the track, an opportunity they entirely failed to capitalise on.  One million kids who love fixed gear bicycles are of no interest to the Japan Keirin Association unless they gamble. Isn't time they changed their business model?

Armature road and mountain bike races in Japan are attracting millions of cyclists each year. The ever popular Fuji Hill Climb in which cyclists race entirely up hill to Mt Fuji's fifth station sells out within minutes of tickets going on sale. Imagine the number of people who could have been drawn into armature track races and training days at the height of the fixie boom. By being entirely focused on gambling the Japan Keirin Association dropped the ball.

Keirin promoters in Japan are failing to promote their sport, choosing to gambling to an audience that is diminishing day by day.

As a tourist visiting Japan who is thinking of heading to the track for an afternoon or evening of entertainment, don't expect to get directions from your hotel tourist desk, or local bicycle store.  Keirin's image here is so bad that I've heard stories of tourist desk staff actively discouraging tourists from visiting the track.  Tourist desks will most certainly not have any keirin pamphlets on hand that's for sure, nor will they find it easy to give you directions to the nearest velodrome, its not mainstream enough for that.

But if you love your bikes, love track racing, and happen to be in Japan I'd still recommend paying a visit to a Japanese velodrome as its an experience you won't get anywhere else, though it may not be the experience you expected.

Unfortunately the Keirin Japan website can be difficult to navigate if you do not read Japanese, so if you need assistance finding somewhere to watch a race during our stay in Japan, drop me a line and I'll hook you up.

September 13, 2015

A lot of people questioned my sanity when I purchased this VERTU CCAV-S saddle online for just 780 yen. Others though really wanted to know how it turned out for me, so here is my verdict.

I bought this saddle for commuter bike which is essentially a mountain bike with a few changes here and there to make it what consider to be the best kind of commuter bike for the city in which I ride. You'd think I'd opt for a more comfortable saddle, not something sleek, narrow and light but I had other things on my mind when I made the purchase.

I was riding with the stock standard padded saddle that came with my bicycle for years and never gave it much thought until it started to split. But being cheap, even a split saddle isn't uncomfortable so I kept on riding regardless. Then the rains came and to my surprise what looked like a perfectly dry saddle was really a sponge which when squeezed (or in this case, sat on) would release all the water trapped inside right into the seat of my pants.

So when I saw this saddle online it had a lot of things going for it. It was cheap, really cheap. It was also green and given I've chosen green parts to complement my frame it was perfect.  But above all if this saddle was left out in the rain, which my bicycle often is, then a quick wipe with a cloth and there'd be no surprise drenching when I sat down.

But I had some doubts. It sure looked narrow and hard, and I wasn't sure what to expect in the way of quality for such a low price. I bought it anyway figuring if it turned out to be a dud I hadn't wasted a lot of hard earned cash.

So how is it?  After fitting the saddle I realized I had to increase the height of the seat post, because even that thin padding on your saddle makes a difference to your seated position. On first ride I was really aware of how I could feel all the road vibrations through the seat, not in a bad way, but I could feel the surface of the road as I glided over it. It also didn't feel too narrow nor hard as the plastic has a lot of flex which absorbs some of the shock.

I've been cycling with this saddle for over 6 months now and for daily commuting I have absolutely no complaints at all, and as promised when left out in the rain I no longer ride home with a wet bottom.  For longer rides, say upwards of 20 or 30 Km though I do begin to notice myself standing up in the pedals to give my sitting bones a break from the saddle.

So for everyone who wanted to know, I've been pleasantly surprised by this saddle. Its cheap, it looks great and rides well over shorter distances, but for longer rides you may want something more between your bum and the hard hard plastic.

I've had no problems with the build quality and the plastic shows no signs or perishing or degrading even after being parked out in the elements more days than not.

At the end of the day this cheap little saddle has worked out quite nicely for me and I'd recommend it to anyone on a budget. They come in a range of colours and for the price you'd ba crazy not to give one a try. Go get one today.

September 10, 2015

On August 22nd over 50 people joined the inaugural Firefly Ride in Tokyo.

Hosted by the Cycling Embassy of Japan and Tokyo's night cycling veterans Night Pedal Cruising the Firefly Ride was held as a simple celebration of the joy of cycling, a reminder to people in a country where getting on a bicycle is as natural as pulling on your shoes that the bicycle is an important part of their lives, and that cycling can be fun as well as utilitarian. The ride also aimed to demonstrate the social side of cycling, not just cycling in a group but serve as a reminder that each time you cycle through your neighbourhood you're contributing to its social nature.

Of course sending the message isn't enough, you have to get people to see the message which is why the Firefly Ride encouraged participants to decorate their bicycles with a variety of lights in order to create a spectacle nobody could miss.

From 5:30pm onwards participants began gathering at the United Nations University in Aoyama and I was happy to see many new faces along for the ride. People of all ages, people who had borrowed bicycles for the night, people from a variety of countries and backgrounds, and even a small dog joined in. They bought with them a wide range of bicycles from mamacharis, to expensive brand name bikes, to heavily modified monstrosities (like mine) that only their owners could love. It is this variety of people and bicycles that makes this and the monthly Night Pedal Cruising rides so much fun. We're not all fit and fast we just love to cycle in the city on well loved bicycles while enjoying conversation with people who feel the same.

After a quick last minute change of route, in consideration of the number of new and inexperienced riders, we set off in a flash of light and sound, nobody attracting more attention then guest judge for the evening Joseph Tame, a local identity known for his art of running projects, running the night lit up like a Christmas tree, and for live streaming the Tokyo Marathon from various iPhones and other devices strapped to his body while he runs. As someone who has run the Tokyo Marathon, trust me that Joseph's broadcast and commentary is much more interesting that the official broadcast, so much so that I feel like I'm running the race all over again!

As always on our night rides we aim to keep the group together which means a lot of stops and starts as the group routinely becomes split by traffic lights, but this gave everyone a lucky opportunity to get to know the people cycling around them.  The frequent stops also allowed passers by to take photos, and for us to answer any questions about our seemingly odd activity to whoever may ask.

Despite the leisurely speed we found ourselves at the Imperial Palace in no time. I took an opportunity during the break to try and fix my rear brake which wasn't operating 100% as it was snared by an  overly tight wire-tie used to secure some obscenely large lights to my bicycle, but by the time we cycled over to Tokyo Station for another photo opportunity I realised that my attempt at maintenance had failed and I was still without stopping power.

From Tokyo Station we cycled through Ginza where restaurant staff and pedestrians cheered us on, and over the bridges (which gave us beautiful views of Tokyo Sky Tree, Tokyo Tower, Rainbow Bridge and Odaiba) to the islands of Tokyo Bay where our group got permanently split in two for the remainder of the ride as I and a few others remained behind to help one rider nurse a punctured tube to the end of the ride.

At Odaiba Seaside Park Joseph judged the winner of the best decorated bicycle competition before we cracked open some drinks and shared snacks on the beach.

Below are some more photos from the event.

August 28, 2015

Wander the streets of any typical Tokyo suburb on a weekday morning and you're likely to be astounded by the number of mothers cycling with one, sometimes two, and occasionally three children on their bicycles as they ferry their little ones to kindergarten.  Visit later in the day and you'll observe even more women darting through the suburban streets by bike on their way to the grocery store, dry cleaners, the gym, or to lunch with friends.

While I'm personally not keen on the label, women have been said to be the "indicator species" of healthy cycling cultures the world over, and judging by the number of women cycling around Tokyo the cycling culture here is alive and well. But just how accurate an indicator is it and when we compare Japan to other nations are we comparing apples to apples?

Like it or not Japan has a very 1950's attitude towards women in that the vast majority of women leave the workforce to become housewives soon after marriage. While many Japanese women pursue University education and meaningful work the startling fact is that 70% of working women leave the workforce after their first child. Lack of support, limited and expensive child care, long work hours, discrimination and societal pressure combine to force women out of the workforce and into their homes once they start a family.

For Japanese women it is a matter of choosing between family or career as society makes it difficult to have both.

With an ageing population and low birthrate straining the economy the Japanese government is pursuing two seemingly competing policies to solve the problem. One is to encourage women to have more children, while the second is to encourage them back to the workforce.

Without opening the doors to mass immigration the future of Japan's economy lies with the women of Japan who are governed by out of touch, grumpy old men with attitudes towards women straight from the stone-age as was evidenced last year when female lawmaker Ayaka Shiomura was heckled with sexist comments such as 'hurry up and get married' and 'can't you give birth?' by members of Japans ruling party.

Just today Prime Minister Abe opened the World Assembly For Women in Tokyo with a speech which promised better working conditions and equal pay for women, more generous maternity leave options, flexible work hours and an increase in affordable child care spaces, clearly aiming to achieve the best of both worlds, more children and more women in the workforce.  But with mounting economic pressures all this talk may be too little to late because even if Abe and his cronies could push through these reforms they'd still be faced with the bigger problem of changing the attitudes of a society that still overwhelmingly believes the woman's place to be the home.

With all this focus on women the Japanese government is completely ignoring the family revealing that despite all their plans the they still consider raising children to be women's work rather than facing the wide range of reforms required to truly give men and women equal footing not only in the workplace but also in the home.

But wait, weren't we talking about cycling?

Tokyo's neighbourhoods with their compact and convenient design where all life's daily needs are but a short distance away encourage cycling as the fastest and most efficient form of transport.   Therefore with so many women responsible for ferrying children to school, doing the shopping, banking, making trips to the dry cleaners, the doctor's or chemist it stands to reason that the number of daily trips made by bicycle by females in Tokyo is so high.

So while Tokyo's everyday cycling culture is certainly thriving, societies attitudes towards women are skewing the numbers and thus trying to compare cycling in Japan to that of other nations based on the participation rate of women really isn't comparing apples to apples. Cities, societies, populations are incredibly complex and fascinating, no two are alike and trying to compare them based on a small number of variables will never yield meaningful results.

The answer to building great cycling cities is not to simply emulate other great cycling cities, but to take the ideas from those places and adapt them to your city and its people because we're all uniquely different.

July 26, 2015

I was recently speaking at a conference attended by Tokyo Metropolitan Government officials, and Tokyo Olympic Planning Committee members discussing cycling infrastructure options surrounding the Tokyo 2020 Olympics when the question about the legality of sidewalk cycling was opened to the floor. "Is it legal or not?", was the simple question posed and the range of blatantly incorrect answers was simply astounding.

Under the Japanese Road Traffic Act bicycles have always been considered light vehicles and are required to use the road and obey the laws of the road as would any other vehicle. But in the early 1970's as Japanese became more affluent and private car ownership boomed, so did collisions between motor vehicles and cyclists which prompted a change to the road traffic act allowing bicycles to use sidewalks which were specifically marked as being appropriate for shared use.

Of course as motor vehicle ownership increased even further so did the number of designated shared use sidewalks. The law was amended yet again to allow cycling on all sidewalks greater then 3 meters in width, and to allow cycling in the sidewalk in cases where the road is impassable, or considered too dangerous, and that is where it all came undone.

"Dangerous" is not defined, it is completely arbitrary. I cycle the roads of Tokyo every single day and consider the routes I choose to be perfectly safe. Perfectly safe for me that is, I don't want my wife and children being forced to ride those same roads because they're certainly not safe enough for them. I'm comfortable on roads that other people should not be forced to cycle because I'm a vehicular cyclist while the majority of cyclists in Japan are not.

Given Tokyo's lack cycling lanes and paths the majority of people cycling here (remember they're mothers, children, the elderly, businessmen, just getting around town, not bicycle commuters or "cycling enthusiasts") consider ALL roads to be unsafe which has resulted in the perception that is perfectly legal to cycle on ALL sidewalks.

This vagueness in the law has resulted in a situation where everyone rides on the sidewalks all of the time, and while that was never the intention, given the poor state of Japan's cycling infrastructure, that is how it has been interpreted by the people.

Until recently pedestrians and cyclists have existed in harmony in their limited shared space, but of late tensions have been rising between pedestrians and cyclists as they battle for precious space on Japan's narrow streets.

I believe that Japanese society is changing and that this change is altering the way people interact in all shared public spaces, not just sidewalks. Now I'm no sociologist or anthropologist, but I believe in Japan's post war years and rapid rise to become the worlds second largest economy there was overwhelming sense of harmony in Japanese society as the entire nation worked together to repair the damage from the war and largely grew prosperous together.

During the bubble years of the 1980's Japan was immensely proud of the fact that the entire citizenry was considered to be middle class and the gap between rich and poor was extremely low for a developed nation. But with the bursting of the bubble in the early 90's and the resulting decades of economic stagnation and deflation, the gap between rich and poor has grown and we're becoming a nation of haves and have-nots.  The perception that we're all in this together, working hard for a better future, is slowly eroding to the point where it has become every man and woman for themselves.

Maybe I'm taking a long shot, but as the income gap widens I believe people become less generous, put themselves and their families ahead of everyone else, and indeed become more selfish and this translates into being less generous and more selfish with public space.

As a result we are seeing more confrontation on the sidewalk between cyclists and pedestrians as both make a firm claim to "their" space. Both cyclists and pedestrians are less willing to give up "their" space for others, speeding and impatient cyclists, ring their bells angrily at pedestrians who resent having to give up "their" space to let another person past. As I said, it maybe a long shot, but I don't believe the sidewalks are any more crowed than they have been in the past, and that the increased danger and discontent on the nations sidewalks stems from a troubled economy.

Am I drawing too long a bow?

Whatever the cause of recent confrontation on Japan's sidewalks, the obvious solution is to stop treating cyclists as pedestrians, stop treating them as vehicles, and committing to providing infrastructure so they can travel safely in their own space.

July 23, 2015

Inspired by hard working groups such as the Dutch Cycling Embassy the Cycling Embassy of Denmark, and the Cycling Embassy of Great Britain the Cycling Embassy of Japan launched in Tokyo today.

The Embassy is dedicated to promoting cycling as a healthy, socially responsible, economically sustainable and environmentally friendly means of transportation, the support and betterment of which can only improve the design of our cities, the health of communities within them and the lifestyles of individuals within those.

Using an extensive local and international network the Embassy aims to import best practices in regards to cycling and cycling infrastructure to Japan, and to promote Japan's vibrant cycling culture to the world. In particular the embassy strives to dispel the myth that a city can grow too large to support cyclists, as Tokyo's 16.5% modal share clearly disproves.

Locally the Embassy is working hard to unite many small and diverse cycling groups around the nation encouraging them to work together and support each other so that their combined voices and opinions will be heard at a national level. The Embassy acts as a conduit linking individuals, advocacy organizations, businesses and government bodies for the betterment of cycling around the nation.

In order to better serve the cycling community the Cycling Embassy of Japan offers numerous services including guided urban design and architecture Tours, lectures, presentations, consulting and research. Professional designers and photographers at the embassy also provide photography, video and design services that cover all your media needs.

Upon launch the Embassy released the Japan Cycling Handbook, a concise booklet filled with tips and informative graphics regarding all aspects of cycling in Japanese cities covering topics such as parking, laws, security, sidewalk and road cycling. Unlike guides which simply parrot the laws the Japan Cycling Handbook describes cycling as it is practiced daily and demonstrates how to best fit in with local cycling customs. The guide has been released under the Creative Commons License and we openly encourage its redistribution in an unaltered format for noncommercial purposes.

In addition to this the Cycling Embassy of Japan will be hosting a twilight ride (The Firefly Ride) on August 22nd coinciding with Tokyo's annual Pedal Day festivities. We encourage participants to decorate their bicycles with lights and sound, with prizes being awarded for the best decorated bicycle and/or riders.

Finally, the Ambassador of The Cycling Embassy of Japan already has a number of speaking engagements around South East Asia in the coming months and looks forward to the possibly of presenting at Velocity Global 2016 in Taiwan.

July 01, 2015

Tell kids they’re going on a walking tour of a city, and they may be interested for a while – until their legs give out and boredom sets in. Tell them they’re biking around a city, and they’ll be attentive and happy for hours. Renting bikes and taking city bike tours is the ultimate life hack of family traveling. It’s a great way to explore your own city with your family, too.

Finding Great Bike Tours

The easiest way to explore a city on a bike is through a bike tour. Tour guides who know the city will navigate, leaving you free to enjoy the experience with your family. Plus, bike tours provide the bikes, so you don’t need to worry about renting them. The best city bike tours combine biking fun with cultural and historical lessons. Look for a tour operator that caters to kids (you’ll see kid-sized rentals available and photos of kids on the website), offers multiple stops en route, and provides snacks. Aim for a tour that’s shorter than four hours long. My favorite bike tour operator is Bike and Roll, located in cities all over the United States.

Sizing a Bicycle for a Child

Bike Rentals for the Whole Family

If you opt to rent bikes on your own, do your research ahead of time to ensure bike rentals will be available for everyone in your family.

Size kids on bikes before leaving home: Check your kids’ bike sizes (often determined by the wheel size) before your trip. This way, you’ll be able to accurately communicate to bike rental companies what size you’ll need. Kids should be able to stand astride their bike and place both feet on the ground.

Call rental companies ahead of time: When you call to check bike inventory, let bike rental shop personnel know the exact size of the bikes you’ll need. Ask about bike trailers and infant bike seats for younger riders, but be sure they’re offering a model you’re comfortable with. Don’t forget to ask about helmet rentals, too.

Just because you can ride somewhere, doesn’t mean you should: After ensuring the rental company can accommodate all ages, ask about safe biking routes. Just because your preschooler can ride in a given city doesn’t mean there are safe routes for doing so. The good news: if there’s a bike rental company servicing an area, there are likely to be appropriate bike trails there. Ask for them!

Biking Rules of the Road

Staying Safe While City Biking

The good news is that cities are meant for cyclists! Many city-dwellers commute via bike, so large cities are usually well equipped with bike lanes and drivers are used to cyclists. But city riding can be daunting to visitors used to quieter streets. To stay safe, follow these tips:

  1. Look for bike paths whenever possible. Most cities have wonderful bike paths, located in the most scenic parts of the city. Use them, remembering to ride on the right-hand side in North America.
  2. Ride in designated bike lanes, but cycle in the flow of traffic. Never ride against traffic, or on sidewalks. Teach children that when they are on a bike, they follow the same rules of the road as cars.
  3. If possible, place parents on either side of child riders. Much of the time, cyclists will need to ride single file. Place kids in the middle, with one parent or other adult in the lead and another at the end.
  4. Educate yourself about any bike-free zones. It seems counterintuitive, but some city parks, such as parts of New York City’s Central Park, are closed to bikes. Know which areas are off-limits to cyclists ahead of time.
  5. Keep bikes safe while you’re away. Always carry a combination lock for bikes (usually available to rent) and lock them up when stopping to tour, sightsee, or eat a meal.

Hand Signals for Cyclists

Best Cities for Cycling

Some cities are simply better for bike touring than others. Our favorites in North America include:

Washington, DC: It’s largely flat, making for easy cycling, and has many monuments and sights that are spread out, making for a lot of walking. In three hours on bikes, though, families can tour the top monuments in and around the National Mall, a tour that would take all day on foot.

New York City: NYC’s Battery Park has a wonderful bike trail that takes riders from the piers all the way to views of the Statue of Liberty. Only a few sections must be navigated in traffic. Alternatively, kids love biking across the Brooklyn Bridge.

Vancouver, BC: Vancouver’s Stanley Park is so popular for biking, multiple cycle shops line its boundaries, and are always busy. Families can ride all the way around the park in an afternoon, following the path that hugs beautiful Coal Harbor. Let kids stop to play at playgrounds and beaches.

Nantucket, MA: It may not be a big city, but it is a large island to cover via the few hiking trails, and it is also simply too pretty to tour by car. Nantucket’s bike path system takes families to cute towns (get ice cream or lunch!) and even to the beach.

Enjoy exploring new cities on wheels! Your family will cover more ground, have more fun, and get more exercise, while getting up close and personal with city sights.

Ideal Cities For Cycling

Follow by Email

Contact Form


Email *

Message *

2014 © Planer - Responsive Blogger Magazine Theme - Published By Gooyaabi Templates
Planer theme by Way2themes