March 31, 2010

Toyama introduces Japan's first full scale bicycle sharing system

A bicycle-sharing system introduced by a major French advertising company has been launched in Toyama, becoming the first of its kind in Japan.

The bike-sharing system, aimed at easing urban traffic jams and helping reduce greenhouse gas emissions through the shared use of bicycles, was launched in Toyama on Saturday by Cyclocity Inc., a subsidiary of French advertising giant JCDecaux that operates the service in Paris and 63 other cities in Europe.

After examining the popularity of the system in Toyama, Cyclocity, headquartered in Tokyo, plans to expand the program to all over Japan.

A similar bike-sharing system was run by the Ministry of the Environment in Tokyo's Marunouchi district on a trial basis last year, but this is the first full-scale introduction in the country.

There are 15 bicycle-parking lots set up at every 300 meters in central Toyama and 150 bicycles are available. With the purchase of a 500-yen monthly pass, registered users can ride the bicycles as many times as they want up to 30 minutes for free. The bicycles can be returned at the nearest parking lots.

The Toyama city government invested 150 million yen in improving facilities for the new system, which is designed to rely primarily on advertising revenue from advertisements carried on the bicycles and those displayed at parking lots. After the system's launch, university researchers will examine and analyze the program and announce the results.

Cyclocity President Thomas Guedron says his company aims to expand the system by offering a high-quality service.

You can learn more about the Toyama Cyclocity project, and purchase a subscription in English via their website.

3 comments:

  1. I like that idea, especially for a crowded city like Tokyo. It makes sense.

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  2. I do agree that the idea is great but why not encourage a fine japanese company offering bike sharing services like Pedal Co. (Interstreet) instead of a french company.

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  3. While I'm not sure of the details in the Toyama case, it is usual practice in cases such as this to consider a number of alternative service providers and choose the one that best meets their needs.

    Maybe the French company was cheaper than the other competitors? Maybe they promised to inspect all the bicycles more regularly than their competitors? Maybe the could complete the project in a shorter time than their competitors? These and many other factors must have been taken into consideration before the French company was chosen over their competitors.

    Now it is up to the local companies to understand why the French company was chosen, and for them to tune their businesses so that when the next opportunity arrives they'll be able to offer a more competitive package.

    I'd hate to see a contract such as this given to a Japanese company simply because its a Japanese company without any consideration of countless other more important issues.

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