March 31, 2010

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.

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