Free Cycling Fun at the Suginami Children's Traffic Park

A free cycling outing for the whole family in Tokyo is a visit to Suginami-ku's Kotsu-Kōuen, on the banks of the Zenpukuji river.

Suginami Kotsu-Kōen, or Suginami Children's Traffic Park, consists of a network of roads complete with road markings, traffic lights, road signs and railway crossings where children can cycle while observing the rules of the road. That's right, all those rules and regulations that frustrate us adult cyclists are just what children are looking for to add some structure and learning to their play.

Visitors to the park are free to ride their own bicycles or borrow one of the many adults, children's and infants bicycles provided for free. In addition to bicycles the park also has a number of pedal powered go-karts including karts that allow an adult to pedal around a smaller passenger. Go-karts have a set course which they must follow and while you're limited to two laps of the circuit each time you borrow a kart, there is no limit on the number of times you can borrow one through out the day.

The smallest of riders can borrow bicycles, pedal cars, karts and other assorted ride-ons for use on a separate smaller circuit safely out of the way of other older more confident riders.

While the major intersections of the course are manned by voluntary staff who occasionally remind children of the rules, there is not an overbearing traffic-nazi presence. For the most part everyone is expected to ride on the left, and respect the traffic lights, but don't rely on an 8 year old to show much interest at stopping at a stop sign. Helmets are also not mandatory, but can be borrowed on request.

Just outside the park is the Zenpukuji Cycling Route, a 2,400m circuit along the banks of the Zenpukuji River and through sections of Wadabori Kōen. After borrowing a bicycle from Kotsu Kōen you're also free to ride this longer route, although you're sharing it with joggers, other cyclists and the general walking public.

In addition to cycling facilities, Kotsu Kōen includes a number of playgrounds with jungle gyms, swings, slides, sandpits and even a decommissioned D-51 steam locomotive. On summer days there is ample shade provided by the trees and a large fountain does a great job of keeping the area nice and cool. The park is dotted with many picnic tables, and has toilet facilities, making it perfect for an afternoon picnic with the family.

The Suginami Children's Traffic park (杉並児童交通公園) is located 12 minutes walk north of Hamadayama Station on the Keio Inokashira line, and is open daily from 9am to 4:30pm.


Pedal Asia Podcast Episode 9

This week we go a little further afield and talk about how cycling is changing life in Bangladesh, the rather peculiar Tour of India, women riding in Japan and most importantly we go and visit the 2nd Cycle Speedway Japan event in Central Tokyo. It was a cold but fantastic day and the boys have become converts to this slightly mad way of getting around a very small course (most of the time) on two wheels. Listen Now!



Cycle Speedway Japan. The most fun on wheels ever.

Last Sunday the 2nd Cycle Speedway Japan was held in Tokyo's Yoyogi Koen and I can honestly say it the most fun you can have on two wheels!

Over 200 riders took part in the event which began at 9am, and finished with a trophy presentation at 3:30pm as the light began to fail on a winters day where the temperature barely reached 10 degrees. Of the 200 riders, roughly 120 were children around 4 and 5 years old, who participated in exciting two lap races on a smaller circuit than the adults. The weapon of choice for these youngsters was the Strider bicycle, those pedalless machines which are popular with future cyclists the world over.

Youngsters raced a seemingly endless series of high energy heats with slower riders gradually being eliminated and culminated with an exciting final race the likes of which I've never witnessed before. There were thrills and spills in the children's events, a few tears, and lots of excitement as the crowd and the hilariously entertaining commentators cheered the young racers on as if they were tour pros.

Junior riders weren't all limited to the smaller track. Those with the skills to ride a bicycle with pedals, namely balance, were able to race two laps on the adult track. The youngest racer again being just 4 years old.

A series of races for slightly older riders took place before midday, but their numbers paled significantly against the sheer volume of 4 year old Strider racers at the event.

With the endless races still going on the at junior track, under 22 and adult races began to get underway in the early afternoon.

Cycle Speedway Japan organisers were determined to make an event with the lowest possible barrier for entry and therefore there were few restrictions on the types of bicycles allowed to participate. This resulted in some nail biting races in which it was not uncommon to see full suspension mountain bicycles go up against up against brakeless fixies.

Teen and adult events were broken down by wheel size, allowing BMX riders to battle it out amongst themselves, before the big wheel brethren took to the track and the serious action got underway.

An adult cycle speedway race lasts just 4 intensely fast, and action filled laps in which the lead can change numerous times. All the action on the compact course happened so close you could literally reach out and touch riders as they flew on by, but if you had any common sense you'd stand back from the barriers as riders did occasionally get their line wrong and go crashing through the fence. Unlike the dirt tracks of cycle speedway in Britain, Tokyo's competitors raced on unforgiving concrete, but despite the numerous (dare I say it, entertaining, crashes) there were few injuries beyond a bruise and a scrape.

A crash in the last lap of the adult final prompted the commentator to call for a restart, although I believe that is not strictly by the book as a red flag had not been raised by the race marshal. After a crash in the rematch the commentator and spectators noisily called for yet another rematch. Out of sympathy for the tiring riders the result of the third rematch stood despite yet another spectacular accident.

It was this disregard for the finer details of the rules, and emphasis on having a great time over winning at all costs that really made Cycle Speedway Japan an insanely entertaining spectacle. Obviously as competitor numbers grow in the future the rules will be tightened, but for now its simply a bunch of bicycle lovers getting together for a good time. And a good time it was.

Organiserss are already planning a 3rd Cycle Speedway Japan to be held in the Spring of 2013 and I've offered to assemble an international team made up of representatives of Japan's foreign community. So watch the videos, and if you enjoy them as much as I did the actual event, and you're keen to compete in the 3rd Cycle Speedway Japan, Spring, 2013 please let me know.

Cycle Speedway has to be the most insane fun you can have on two wheels.

A note from Byron:

I had my iPad with me to record for the Pedal Asia Podcast, but ended up shooting more video than audio. Lacking a camera I also used the iPad to shoot these shots at the event.

We recorded parts of the Pedal Asia Podcast Episode 9 live at Cycle Speedway Japan, please do give it a listen!


Traveling from Narita Airport to Tokyo with a Bicycle

A question I'm asked time and time again is:

"Upon arriving in Japan, how can I transport my bicycle from Narita Airport to downtown Tokyo?"

Of course, you could ride, but after a long flight I doubt you'd be alert nor energetic enough to navigate the 76km from Narita Airport to central Tokyo. It's an option if you're up for the challenge but not one I'd recommend if this is your first trip to Tokyo.

JR East's Narita Express train runs between Narita Airport and major metropolitan stations including Tokyo, Shinagawa, Shibuya, Shinjuku and Ikebukuro. Depending on your destination, ticket prices vary from 3,000 to 4,500 yen and the trip takes about 55 minutes to Tokyo Station.

At the rear of each passenger carriage on the Narita Express is a space for storing luggage, and behind the very last row of passenger seats there is enough space to stow a bicycle. Japan Rail rules state that a bicycle must be covered in order to be taken on a train and this applies to most trains around the country. Given you've just arrived in Japan it is safe to assume that your bicycle is already boxed or bagged so you're good to go*.

While the Narita Express is fast and efficient, the departure platform is many levels below the airport's arrival gates so be prepared to haul your luggage and bicycle a long, long way.

Another option at your disposal is the luxurious-sounding Limousine Bus service. As with the Narita Express, Limousine buses operate between Narita Airport and major stations and hotels in Tokyo. Depending upon traffic the trip to Tokyo Station can take anywhere between 75 and 130 minutes and most tickets are around 3,000 yen.

Limousine Bus tickets can be purchased right outside the arrival gates at Narita Airport, and buses also depart from directly in front of the terminal building on the same level as the arrivals hall (meaning no long walk with your luggage and bicycle). Staff will stow your bicycle in luggage space underneath the bus, leaving you free to enjoy the journey into Tokyo. While the Limousine Bus trip does take longer than the Narita Express, you do get to see much more of the city from high up in a bus on an expressway than on the Narita Express which travels mostly at, or under, ground level.

Narita is, as one would expect, also serviced by a number of taxi companies, but a ride to Tokyo will set you back anywhere between 15,000 and 26,000 yen depending on your destination in Tokyo, so for most of us that's not an option worth considering.

If you really feel like splashing out, you could take a helicopter from Narita Airport to Roppongi Hills in Tokyo, which costs 50,000 yen per passenger one way, but I doubt they'll transport your bicycle.

If you're not in a hurry, I'd recommend the Limosuine Bus service for its convenient boarding and disembarking locations, trouble-free storage for bicycles, and the scenic value of the ride into the city atop the expressway.

For more information, including current prices and timetables, please visit the Narita Express or Limousine Bus websites (English available).

* This is a guest post originally written for Surviving in Japan, a goldmine of useful information for foreigners living in or visiting Japan.



Cycle Speedway Taking Off in Japan

The style of bicycle racing known as Cycle Speedway is virtually unknown in Japan despite having been in existence in the United Kingdom since the 1920's.  The sport really took off in Britain after the war with dirt tracks created through the rubble of bombed buildings hosting races by young men on otherwise non roadworthy bicycles.

The sport grew in leaps and bounds, primarily to its low barrier for entry, with East London being home to over 200 teams by 1950.  Intercity races began in 1946, but it wasn't until the formation of the National Amateur Cycle Speedway Association (NACSA) in 1956 that the rules for Cycle Speedway were formalised.

Sadly after bomb sites were restored the sport itself bombed soon after 1950.

Today Cycle Speedway is fully revived and fully funded by British Cycling, and enjoys popularity primarily among young cyclists.

Japan held their first CycleSpeedway event at Komozawa Koen in June 2012 attracting great interest from competitors and spectators alike. In cities such as Tokyo where space is at a premium the small size of Cycle Speedway tracks make the sport very accessible as events can be staged easily in parks or other open public spaces.

1st CycleSpeedway Japan, Komozawa Koen, Tokyo.

Japan is coming down off a fixed gear cycling boom with enthusiasts looking for the next "big thing" in cycling. Cycle Speedway Japan organisers hope the fact that almost any bicycle is suitable for Cycle Speedway racing will draw many to the sport.  The events are also being organised to be accessible to all riders regardless of age, or skill with most of the races centred around simply having a good time and introducing new people to the sport.

The 2nd Cycle Speedway Japan will be held in Yoyogi Koen in Tokyo on the 2nd of December 2012.  Hope to see you there.

Visit CycleSpeedway Japan on Facebook or, follow them on twitter, @csw_japan



Tokyo Bicycle Commuters - Cut that out!

My company recently moved to a new office building, so for me this means a new bicycle commute.  My new route takes me directly from the western suburbs of Tokyo straight into Shinjuku, avoiding the main east/west arteries of Route 20 and 246 which Tokyo cyclists will tell you are hell during rush hour. They'll also inform you that rush hour on those stretches began one sunny September morning in 1968 and is yet to subside.

My route to Shinjuku includes Honan Dori, which I've discovered is quite popular among bicycle commuters despite the fact that it has more traffic lights than many pacific countries, many of which seem to be permanently stuck on red.

As one who is quite opinionated about Tokyo cyclists and bicycle commuters I have been watching their behaviour closely in order to amass enough content for a blog post, namely this blog post. Here are some of the behaviours I've observed.

Cycling in the gutter - cut that out!

I see many commuters on my new route cycling as far left as they can go without striking their pedal on the curb. Some swerve to avoid drains, which is dangerously unpredictable for the motorists around them, others power over the drains which has its own dangers. The National Police Association are encouraging cyclists to use the road rather than the sidewalks, so Tokyo commuters show some pride, drag yourselves out of the gutter and take your entitled portion of the lane before I'm forced to slap some sense into you.

Jumping unpredictably from road to sidewalk to road to sidewalk to roa ... cut that out!

I'm a big fan of Japan's lax enforcement of cycling rules.  Despite what the law says cyclists are pretty much free to ride the roads and sidewalks as they see fit.  This is wonderful if there is a traffic jam or road works ahead blocking progress on the road, simply hop on the sidewalk, cycle around the obstruction, and return to the road once its clear. Perfect!

According to Uncle Ben (not Uncle Ben Kenobi, the other Uncle Ben) "with great power comes great responsibility". Cyclists have a responsibility for their own safety and for the safety of those around them.  When jumping onto the sidewalk few are looking behind for approaching pedestrians or sidewalk cyclists, and I swear few are even looking forward.  Of greater danger to themselves is that once they've finished their sidewalk jaunt they jump back onto the road without even a glace over their shoulder at traffic into which they're merging.

Cyclists also have the responsibility not to overuse their super transport powers. Constantly jumping on and off the sidewalk whenever it suits you is not acceptable. I witnessed one cyclist pumping away in the gutter and each time he reached a parked car instead of going around it he would hop onto the sidewalk (without looking for pedestrians) underpass the parked car then jump back out onto the road (again without looking). He did this for every single parked vehicle over the short stretch I was watching him.

If this convenient power is abused the police will crack down and we'll lose the freedom of being able to cycle where we like, then I'll slap you.

Salmoning - need I say it? Cut that out!

This doesn't occur so much amongst the long distance commuters, but shorter distance commuters and less experienced road cyclists seem to think that cycling against the flow of traffic is a safer alternative. Basically the only advantage to salmoning is you'll get a good fix on the numberplate of the car that is most certainly going to kill you.

I decided to play chicken with a salmon (huh?) a few nights ago maintaining my rightful place on the left side of the lane while she cycled directly towards me on her right, eventually I had to chicken out as she was also checking her mobile phone and had her headphones in meaning she was oblivious to our game, and oblivious to the danger around her. I was too shaken to slap anybody, but someone deserved a slap, maybe me for knowingly attempting something so foolish.

Its hard to believe that these people survived to adulthood given their lack of common sense and self preservation. While the National Police Association are encouraging cyclists off the sidewalks and onto the roads, which provide little in the way of cycling infrastructure, the Tokyo Metropolitan Government still suggests cyclists stay on the sidewalks. I believe the Tokyo Metropolitan Government do in fact realise that their citizens are not ready to ride the roads and that forcing them to would result in a nightmare, which is what I believe too.

Note to self: Never play chicken with a salmon, they're oblivious to the rules.


Pedal Asia Podcast Episode 8 - Japan Cup 2012 Special

Bumper issue from the Japan Cup 2012, We have a long interview  with Legend Robbie McEwen, CyclingIQ's Cam Whiting and a race wrap up from Gav. It was a great day with pro cycling as it should be, all about the racing and surprisingly free of Lance's dark shadow.

Listen Now!


Pedal Asia Podcast Episode 8A: CYCLE MODE 2012

After a long time away this week the boys go to Cyclemode 2012, talk to some of the exhibitors and give their take on the event and bicycle consumer shows in general.

Listen Now!


CYCLE MODE International 2012 Report

Japan's largest consumer bicycle show CYCLE MODE International opened at the Makuhari Messe exhibition centre in Chiba on Friday November 2.

Featuring over 2000 bicycles from 600 exhibitors the event is expected to draw in excess of 50,000 visitors over its 3 days.  Bicycle makers including Colnago, Bianchi, Ridley and Pinarello had the largest and most visited booths on Friday but conspicuous by their absence this year were some big players including Giant, Specialised, Cannondale and Mavic. Its was like a motor show where Ferrari and Porsche turn up, but Toyota and GM are absent.

The majority of floor space at the event which spanned two large halls was devoted to expensive high end road and time trial bicycles including a Y1,890,000 bicycle designed by Colnago for Ferrari.  Surprisingly fixed gear bicycles, which have been riding an unprecedented boom in Japan for many years were barely represented.

The second biggest group of bicycles on display after road bikes were electric bicycles, Despite being tucked away at the back of the show away from the glamour of the sports bicycles, exhibitors of electric bicycles took up a large percentage of floor space yet drew much smaller crowds than the makers of high end Italian racers.

Independent manufacturers and craftsmen were sadly few and far between.

Perhaps the biggest attraction for visitors was the opportunity to ride one of the over 800 bicycles made available to test ride on the purpose built circuit which snaked its way inside and out of the exhibition hall.

Various stages around the event hosted fashion shows, lectures, courses on bicycle maintenance, and training tips. While a half pipe allowed groups of BMX riders to display their skills.

Be it a sign of hard economic times, the absence of some big players in the bicycle industry or the general scaling down of trade shows, the atmosphere at this years event was very subdued.  No loud music, no big budget entertainment extravaganza, no touts enticing visitors into their booths to peruse their wares. The quiet atmosphere, lack of enthusiasm from exhibitors and lack of excitement among patrons took the shine off what should have been a much more enjoyable event.

Japan's premier consumer bicycle show left a lot to be desired.

All photos I took at the event can be found here.

We also recorded Episode 8 of the Pedal Asia Podcast live at CYCLE MODE 2012, give it a listen.


CYCLE MODE International 2012

Its on again, Japan's largest bicycle exhibition Cycle Mode International!
The annual event running from November 2 to 4 at Makuhari Messe in Chiba is expected to draw a crowd of over 40,000 people, testament to how cycling is continuing to grow here in Japan.

Over 1500 bicycles, frames, clothing and accessories will be on display, from over 500 internationally known brands and smaller local craftsmen showing off their unique, sometimes one of a kind, products. Of the 1500 bicycles on display 800 mountain, road, folding and electric bicycles will be available for test rides on the purpose built 400m oval at the exhibition centre.

In addition to products on display there will be lectures and classes in bicycle maintenance, cycling and training techniques held through out the event.  There will be as always be acrobatic performances from BMX riders on a dirt track on site.

Tickets are ¥1,200 at the door and advance tickets can be purchased for ¥1,000 from Ticket Pia, convenience stores or via the Cycle Mode 2012 website.

Myself and Pedal Asia co-host Gavin Dixon will most likely attend Cycle Mode on Friday in a doomed attempt to avoid the crowds.  We'll be interviewing for the Pedal Asia Podcast and I'll be sure to pack a camera so I can share pictures with Tokyo By Bike readers.

If you're going to attend the event, drop us a line!


Oita residents want bicycle parking, not bicycle lanes.

Today I discovered a wonderful story of residents in Oita using a newly developed bicycle lane as bicycle parking.

Bicycles parked in a bicycle lane, Oita, Japan.

Initially I was amused, "Look at those wacky Japanese mistaking a bicycle lane for bicycle parking." and had a chuckle to myself, but upon reflection I realized that by parking in the bicycle lane these residents are sending a strong message to their city, and that message is "We don't need bicycle lanes, we need bicycle parking."

Urban planners obviously did not consult residents before foisting this unneeded infrastructure upon them.  Fortunately residents have taken it upon themselves to use the new infrastructure in a way that brings the most benefit to them. Power to the people!



Keirin racing in Japan, don't forget your wallet.

Every four years coinciding with the Olympics there is a surge of interest in keirin racing, and international eyes turn to Japan from where the keirin originated. But keirin racing in Japan isn't quite the same as the international Olympic sport.

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 a lucrative bicycle industry.  From there it has grown into a nationwide spectacle with 47 velodromes around Japan each hosting events on 70 days each year, so there is a keirin race going on somewhere in Japan almost every day.

The majority of Japanese velodromes are outdoors and races have traditionally been held during the day, but that tradition is changing with more night races being held on weeknights so salary men can attend races after work.

Despite the glamorous image of Olympic keirin racing, keirin in Japan has a very poor reputation indeed due to its association with gambling.  Your average race goer is male, in his 50's or over, smells of tobacco and alcohol, will skip work to visit the track and is 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.

The keirin website actually promotes the fact that betting tickets can be purchased on line or via mobile phone without even having to visit the track in the belief that this convenience will attract a younger audience.  What they're promoting here is gambling, not cycling.

Annual sales of betting tickets reach approximately 800 billion yen, with roughly 60 million tickets sold each year. Keirin is clearly more about gambling than cycling.

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, or join amateur races only to discover a page informing me how easy it is to fill out a betting form!

Keirin promoters in Japan are failing to promote their sport, instead they're promoting gambling which only appeals to a very small segment of the population and thus will have a difficult time increasing their audience.

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.  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.



FNN News Covers Bicycle Safety Measures in Japan

FNN News video about bicycle safety in Japan and the measures being considered to improve cyclists behaviour.

Those guys at the 1 minute mark are the ones responsible for our cycling future ...

I still do not understand the hysteria, nor the need to go around implementing new rules when the old ones would work fine if only they were enforced.



Lawbreaking cyclists to be forced to attend bicycle safety courses?

Japanese officialdom has once again got a bee in its bonnet about bicycle safety despite a decrease in the number of fatal bicycle accidents.

Since stricter policing of bicycle laws began in January this year over 4,000 people have been issued warnings for such offences as ignoring traffic signals, riding without brakes, cycling while holding umbrellas, mobile phones or cycling with headphones. (That's right issues warnings, not fined, not arrested, just had their bicycle ride interrupted by an irate police officer who gives them a slap on the wrist and sends them on their way.)

Cycling with headphones in Tokyo would earn you a Y50,000 fine, if police did their job.
Now someone at the "Department of Wasting Public Money on Stupid Ideas" has come up with the proposal that unruly cyclists should be forced to attend cycling safety programs in order to improve their manners.

Recently we've seen the monthly police crackdown on cyclists in Tokyo, the proposal of a compulsory bicycle number plate system, and now forced bicycle retraining programs for cyclists deemed to have bad cycling manners (however bad manners are defined). What have cyclists done to raise the ire of the police and local government that causes the to think up such idiotic and expensive schemes?

If police really want cyclists to improve their manners they have to start enforcing the law, not once a month with huge numbers of police on the street setting up roadblocks to check cyclists, but every single day as a part of their daily duty.  Hit cyclists with fines if they're breaking the law and you'll soon see an improvement in cyclist behaviour.

Until the police do their job cyclists will not change their ways and officials will continue to dream up expensive schemes to try and make cyclists ride safer.

The solution is simple, and doesn't need a new scheme, just enforce the law.


Pedal Asia Podcast Episode 7

This episode we talk world champs, nasty goings on at the Tour of China 1 and 2, bicycle number plates, lanes and a 7 year old legend who is riding the length of Japan. An inspirational story.

Listen Now!



Downtown, free digital Cycle and Lifestyle Magazine

Downtown embodies the emerging spirit of comfortable and sustainable mobility. Aesthetics, style, and function are being combined to a lifestyle magazine á la avant-garde. Impressive means of transportation – from a classic bike, over electric cars, to e-bikes, they are in perfect symbiosis urban stories & reports. “Aesthetic Mobility” in this context, is a synonym for emotion, aesthetics, and enthusiasm – as an expression of a new lifestyle.

Visit the Downtown homepage for more information and earlier issues.



Yokohama Bicycle Lane is a Real Obstacle Course

Last weekend I asked James Szypula from Yokohama Rides and Rentals if he could photograph the new painfully narrow bicycle lane in Yokohama that I wrote about last week in the article "Thanks for Half a Bicycle Lane Yokohama".
Drains! Cyclists beware!

After visiting the site James comments :

"It really is a very short and narrow section of lane. The city probably saw a need to separate cyclists from pedestrians along this particular stretch, as it is often crowded with sightseers (often foreign so not used to seeing/interacting with bicycles on the sidewalk). "

My concerns about the bicycle lane include its reported width of 1.2m ad the fact that almost half of that width isn't actually road space.  To think that city planners are so woefully educated about protecting cyclists that they would include approximately 40cm of rainwater gutter when quoting the width of the lane is astonishing.

Raised reflectors! Cyclists Beware!

When I asked James to photograph the lane I was specifically looking for drains in the gutter space and the photographs do prove that such drains exist.  Cyclists swerving to avoid these obstacles will be seen by rivers as behaving in a dangerous and unpredictable manner and be put in unnecessary danger.

In addition to the danger cause by forcing cyclists to avoid drains James observed even more problems:

"My main concern is that some inexperienced cyclists will be lured out into the lane and then right into one of the many raised reflective pavement markers which are at one end of the lane. These things are death traps IMO. Any cyclist hitting one of these will definitely go down hard and maybe fall into the path of traffic. Although reflective they actually are not so easy to see on a bike, especially at night."
Parked cars! Now thats just rude.

Anyone who has ridden at night knows that a bicycle light is sometimes not enough to illuminate these reflectors after they've been coated with grime from the road, and that hitting one, especially on a road bicycle, would result in disaster.

Two more problems, which are not unique to this bicycle lane were motorists parking in the lane, and that after just 400m the lane stops and cyclists are once again left to fend for themselves on the road, or return to the sidewalk endangering pedestrians.

Riding this lane is going to be a real test of your cycling skills!

You can see more photographs of the Yokohama bicycle lane on Flickr.



Cycle in Tokyo, get doored in new and unusual ways

Tokyo's Minato-ku have installed a new style of bicycle lane which puts cyclists between the sidewalk and parked cars.

The boffins down in traffic planning believe that parked vehicles will effectively shield cyclists from traffic. Which may be true, but what will shield cyclists from getting doored from passengers exiting the parked cars?

When exiting a vehicle from the drivers side of the car most of us are conditioned to check behind us for incoming traffic, including bicycles.  But conditioned as we are, when we exit the car from the passenger side rarely do we check behind us as we've been flinging passenger doors open without checking since the invention of the motor vehicle. Passengers are just not trained to check for incoming traffic.

How long before we see a dooring in this bicycle lane and how many doorings do you think we'll see each year?

Aside from the creative dooring possibilities, the gaps between car parking spaces also cause me some concern.  Are cyclists going to have to contend with pedestrians darting out from between cars, across the bicycle lane to the sidewalk?  That's going to be a lot of fun for all. I'd love to sit on an overpass and film the exciting events that are bound to take place on this bicycle lane the boffins down in traffic planning are so proud of.

Come on Japan. The research into bicycle lanes has already been done. Its not about rocket science, its about commitment to do it right and I don't see that commitment in Japan yet.



Thanks for Half a Bicycle Lane Yokohama.

Last week a new 400m bicycle lane opened in Yokohama between Minato Mirai and the Yokohama Red Brick Warehouse.  While I applaud the Yokohama council for taking steps to improve bicycle infrastructure along the scenic Yokohama waterfront I can't say I'm happy with the width of this lane.  The video below describes the new lane as being 1.2m in width, sure it is, if you include the gutter as part of the bicycle lane.

You see inexperienced road cyclists in Japan riding in the gutter all the time rather than asserting their right to be on the road and taking their fare share of the lane.  Its a dangerous practise for many reasons not the least of which is most gutters have drains at regular intervals so to avoid these the cyclist must swerve periodically.  From a motorists point of view this is erratic and unpredictable behaviour which won't earn cyclists any respect on the roads.

Thanks Yokohama for giving us half a bicycle lane.

If you really want to enjoy Yokohama by bicycle I recommend you get in touch with James at Yokohama Rides and Rentals.

James can  take you on a guided tour of the Yokohama and Kamakura areas and also has compact folding bicycles available for rent.  As part of the Yokohama Rides and Rental service they can deliver bicycles to your hotel or meet you at the nearest convenient station.

For more information or to make a reservation please contact James at or give him a call on 090-7849-6683.

Update: James visited the site of this new bicycle lane, made some observations and provided Tokyo By Bike with pictures confirming drains in the "lane" and other hazards. Read more in the article "Yokohama Bicycle Lane is a Real Obstacle Course".



Report on Bicycle License Plates Presented in Tokyo

On Monday, September 10, a working group established by the Tokyo Metropolitan Government to study the feasibility of implementing  license plate system for Tokyo's cyclists handed over their report to government officials.

The government believes mandatory number plates will encourage cyclists to ride more safely and observe road rules as they will become more easily identifiable.  The also believe the new system will curb the increasing incidents of bicycles being abandoned illegally.

Opponents of the system (myself included) argue that any move that makes cycling more expensive or inconvenient will have a dramatic impact on families who rely on bicycles as their main mode of transport.  Bicycle manufacturers also oppose the idea as they believe it will impact on their sales figures.

I've written more on the subject here, and it is a story I will be following with great interest.


Pedal Asia Podcast Episode 6

This month Byron goes on another rant about cycling laws in Japan, we wander of into helmut talk. We wrap up Asia's olympics on the road and on the track, visit the Pedal Day festival in Tokyo and have a chat with Mike Rice - Japan rep for new commer Neil Pryde bicycles. Gavin was surprised this legendary name from sailboarding are in bikes these days but Mike is living the dream of combining his love of bikes with a pay day. A great chat with a lucky guy. This week is very Japan focussed but over the next few months we going Asia wide.

Listen Now!



Tokyo serious about number plating cyclists

In a move that would leave any cycling activist absolutely dumbstruck, the Tokyo Metropolitan Government is seriously considering making it a requirement for all cyclists to display a large number plate on their bicycles.

Under the proposed law cyclists will be required to pay a fee to register their bicycles, and then will be bound by law to notify authorities when they change address, sell, or dispose of their bicycle as is the case with motor vehicles. Government officials say the plan hopes to achieve a number of goals including reducing the number of illegally abandoned bicycles, lowering rates of bicycle theft, and preventing cyclists from riding in a dangerous manner.

A common scene around shopping centers in Japan.
In 2009 approximately 740,000 of Tokyo's 9 million bicycles were removed for illegal parking and of those 310,000 were subsequently disposed of after their owners failed to retrieve them in the 6 month period stipulated by most municipalities. The cost of removing and storing illegally parked bicycles has been estimated at 13.5 billion yen and as deflation pushes bicycle prices down number of abandoned bicycles is rising.

Japan already has a nationwide bicycle registration system.  Once a Y1,500 registration fee is paid owners receive a sticker which they attach to their bicycle frame.  Registration is compulsory, yet there are no penalties for non compliance, and despite this over 90% of bicycles in Japan are registered.  Under the current system there is no requirement for bicycle owners to notify officials of change of address, or change of ownership, and this say police makes it difficult to keep track of bicycle owners.

The number of accidents involving bicycles has stood steady at 30% of all traffic accidents since 2001, but that rose to 36% in 2010. The number of accidents between bicycles and buses in the January-October period of 2011 rose 40% from the same period the previous year prompting the Tokyo Bus Association to urge the Tokyo Metropolitan Government to make bicycle number plates mandatory as identifying a cyclist who flees an accident is almost impossible. Police are expecting that cyclists will ride more safely if they are more easily identifiable.
As a cyclist I stand firmly against the proposed law for a number of reasons.  Firstly, any law that makes cycling more expensive will reduce cyclist numbers.  Currently there is no mention of how much it will cost to register an individual bicycle, nor is there any indication if children's bicycles will require registration. In most Japanese families every family member has their own bicycle including children. With consumption tax in Japan set to rise and electricity prices already increasing due to the March 11 nuclear disaster, family budgets will be further stretched to support the cost of re-registering already registered bicycles under the new system.

My current registration sticker.
In addition to cost, the requirement to notify city officials upon change of address, change of ownership or disposal of the bicycle adds an extra burden to bicycle owners.  Each change to the bicycle registration records will require the owner to make a trip to city hall which in many cases requires taking a half day off work to accomplish. Any law that puts an extra burden on cyclists or makes cycling inconvenient will also reduce cyclist numbers.

The argument that making cyclists easily identifiable will prompt them to ride more safely is easily dismissed. We've always been able to identify motorists via their number plates yet still witness countless examples of dangerous driving on a daily basis.

There is no indication of how much the system will cost to administer and police. Will the registration fee cover the cost of administration in addition to the cost of disposing of abandoned bicycles or will it need to be subsidised by the taxpayer meaning less funds for more essential services?  What about penalties for not registering, or failing to notify authorities of changes of address or ownership. In the event a number plate is stolen, how much will it cost to replace?

Lets not even get into the issue of where on the bicycle cyclists will be required to display the number plates.  Front? Back? Front and back? Below the saddle? What if I have a saddle bag? Tape it to my backside?

This misguided action by the Tokyo Metropolitan Government can only result in a decrease in the number of cyclists and I can't help thinking that that is the point.

Tokyo has few bicycle lanes which results in the majority of cyclists riding on the sidewalk and as cyclist numbers increase so have the number of accidents involving pedestrians and cyclists.  In January the Tokyo Metropolitan police force made the statement urging more cyclists to ride on the roads, rather than the sidewalks resulting in the number of accidents involving bicycles on the road increasing by 7% over the period till May.  So for the Tokyo Metropolitan Government and Tokyo Metropolitan Police Department reducing cyclist numbers, rather than providing safe cycling infrastructure, could be the solution to their problem.

Try as I might, I can find no avenue to appeal against the proposed laws.  Therefore I would like cyclists and cycling activists the around the world to help create an uproar online, in the hope that international attention may cause Tokyo to rethink its poorly planned cycling agenda.

Note: We discussed this topic on Episode 4 of the Pedal Asia Podcast and will certainly be revisiting it in a future episode.  You can subscribe to Pedal Asia via iTunes.



Treadlie - Bike Magazine

I've been hearing a lot of good things about Treadlie Magazine out of Melbourne, Australia for a long, long time. In a round about kind way I came to posses a paper copy of an earlier issue not long ago and must say I'm thoroughly impressed by this magazine.

Treadlie was launched in December 2010 and focuses on style, fashion, design and the passion that bikes inspire in people. It contains interviews and profiles of designers, artists, writers, stylists, musicians, poets, all of whom have a strong love of bicycles and cycling. In recent issues they've run features on artisans re-invigorating the handmade bicycle industry, collectors, DIY and all aspects of bicycle design and craft. The popular Treadlie St section features interviews with and photographs of people and their bikes spotted on streets worldwide.
There are very few magazines that I read cover to cover. Usually I'll flip backwards and forwards cherry picking the most appealing articles which leaves a lot of the magazine unread. With Treadlie, all the articles were of equally exceptional quality and proved such entertaining reading that I abandoned the cherry picking approach and simply read the issue from front to back. When you read a magazine in that fashion you realise just how much good content is crammed into each issue.

I do love a paper magazine, but they tend to pile up and once read they're rarely read again. That's why I've subscribed the electronic edition in my iPad, not only are the visuals stunning on the new Retina display, but having back issues always on hand means those back issues do actually get re-read, and shown to others.

Treadlie is available from newsagents and bike and design shops all over Australia and NZ as well as some newsagents internationally. Subscription can be done via the Treadlie website Treadlie is also available on the iPad via the Apple Newsstand where you can either subscribe or buy individual issues. For a short time, Issue 4 is available as a free download!

You can also follow @Treadlie on twitter.



Bicycle Safety, by Tokyo's Elementary School Children

Many construction sites around Tokyo attempt to beautify themselves by displaying artwork by local children on what would otherwise be lifeless white walls. I came across these bicycle and and road safety themed pictures at a construction site in Ebisu, Tokyo.
Going clockwise from the top right the first caption warns against standing on your pedals (a bit strict I thought), the second recommends you always cross at pedestrian crossings, the third advises you slow down when going down hills, and the final comment is not to ignore traffic lights.

Judging by the pictures this random sample of Tokyo children have a firm grip on on the theoretical side of road safety, lets hope the put it into practise when they're out on the streets, because as third year elementary school children in Japan they're already cycling.



Oh no ...

There are so many things wrong with this picture it hard to know where to begin.

This is what happens when you get a pro cyclist to run a cycle skills and safety course in Japan.  He must have arrived in full pro racer kit, on his super expensive, ultra light road bicycle to cement the impression that he's a "real" cyclist and he knows what he is doing, so listen up. One twitter follower wondered if he threw energy gels into the crowd upon arrival because, as we all know, cycling to the supermarket without the correct fuel can be disastrous.

But all that fell apart the moment he stepped off the racing bicycle and onto the mama-chari in all his helmeted and Lycra glory.  Just like Bradley Wiggins ill informed  comments about cycling safety and helmets after a cyclist was killed in an accident with an official Olympic bus, this is another example of why pro racers aren't the best people to be teaching our children about bicycle safety.

A picture is worth a thousand words, and this is a perfect illustration if why regular people on regular bicycles just do not need specialised cycling wear.

I found the photo quite amusing.  Share it with your friends.



Suginami Children's Traffic Park Time Lapse Video

Today, along with family friends, we visited the Suginami Children's Traffic Park where I shot this short time lapse video to share with you all.

It was quite a hot afternoon, so there weren't as many children out on bicycles as other times when we have visited, but those that were cycling really seemed to be enjoying themselves. As always the pedal go-karts were extremely popular.

I've written more about the Suginami Children's Traffic Park in an earlier post you can find here, which includes directions and opening times.



Pedal Day 2012. Three day bicycle festival in Tokyo.

Three days of bike events spread over three venues in Tokyo will bring the super cool Tokyo cycling community, as well as local artists and cafe owners together to share their talents, and a few drinks.

This bicycle festival promotes all genres of bike and the idea that owning and riding one should be fun, and it have a few ways of showing it.

On Friday 17th, at Yoyogi Park, there will be a Tokyo Bicycle Beauty show (think fashion, girls and bikes), Tokyo Bicycle Builders Award (“The best and most original bicycle award” – eight wheels, anyone?), a Pedal Market (check out the skills of and order original frames from Tokyo’s best builders) and even a bunny hop contest to round things off from 8 p.m. Head there from around 2 p.m. to catch things warming up.

On Saturday and Sunday, the action moves to Aoyama. Out the front of the United Nations University is the Farmer’s Market venue – and just along the street near Omotesando Station is 246 Common, a neat collection of temporary cafes and bars selling drinks and organic grub from stylishly retro caravans and tents between the buildings.

Read more about the event in English in this great article by Tokyo Weekender, or visit the official Pedal Day 2012 site.

Unfortunately I'm out of  town this weekend, but partner in crime Gavin Dixon will be at the festivities collecting interviews for the next Pedal Asia Podcast.



Why is free bicycle parking at this Tokyo station going unused?

Recently our local railway station in suburban Tokyo increased the number of "3 hour free" parking spaces in a large, multi-story bicycle parking facility to reduce sidewalk congestion by encouraging shoppers to park their bicycles off the street. Interestingly the majority of these free parking spaces remain unused while the number of bicycles parked on the sidewalk have not decreased. Why is this the case?

The bicycle is the most common choice of transport when it comes to shopping in the suburbs of Tokyo where the local shotengai, or shopping street, with its vegetable store, butcher and bakery etc. hasn't been forced out of existence by large supermarket chains. Japanese mama-chari bicycles feature an relaxed upright cycling position and are equiped with large baskets, usually front and rear, making them perfect for suburban shopping trips.

Tokyo shoppers have become accustomed to cycling from store to store, plotting an efficient course with minimal backtracking, or one where frozen goods are purchased right before the ride home rather than at the beginning of the shopping trip.  As a result shoppers are used to parking directly outside the store they're visiting, in many cases they'll leave their comleted shopping in the bicycle basked outside while they quickly pop inside the bakery for a loaf of bread.

Compare this to cycling to a central parking facility then having to walk back and forth between stores, carrying your groceries, before having to return to to the parking lot before cycling home.  Obviously the former method of cycling from shop to shop is faster, more efficient and convenient than using a large parking complex. Suburban shoppers know this and will not switch to centralized bicycle parking if it means longer, more inconvenient shopping trips.

So while large bicycle parking facilities conveniently located close to train stations are essential for commuters who cycle to the station then take the train to work, they aren't a viable alternative to convenient street parking for shoppers.

I believe urban planners should have paid more attention to existing patterns of bicycle use and cater for those patterns. It seems obvious that increasing the number of free parking spaces will lead to a decrease in the number of bicycles parked on the sidewalk, but a deeper investigation of how shoppers use their bicycles reveals that no matter how many free parking spaces are available, if they're not conveniently located for shoppers they'll never be used.


Pedal Asia Podcast Episode 5 Olympic Special

This episode the boys go over Asia's Olympic hopefuls in all the cycling disciplines. They give their very uneducated views on all the events and the chances of any medals on the road, track, bmx and Mountain bike courses.

Listen Now!


Olympic Cycling Events on NHK Television in Japan

If, like me, you live in Japan but don't have access to cable television you'll be pleased to know that NHK will be broadcasting select cycling events on their BS1 Channel.


Men's Road RaceJuly 29 (Sunday)8:00am
Men's Time TrialAugust 2 (Thursday)9:00am

Japanese Competitors:

Arashiro Yukiya
Beppu Fumiyuki
Hagiwara Mayuko


Men's Cross CountryAugust 13 (Monday)8:00am
Women's Cross CountryAugust 12 (Sunday)9:00am

Japanese Competitors:

Yamamoto Kohei
Katayama Rie


Men's Team PursuitAugust 3 (Friday)9:00am
Men's Individual SprintAugust 5 (Sunday)
August 7 (Tuesday)
Men's KeirinAugust 8 (Wednesday)9:00am
Women's Individual SprintAugust 6 (Monday)
August 8 (Wednesday)

Japanese Competitors:

Watanabe Kazunari
Nakagawa Seiichiro
Nitta Yudai
Maeda Kayono


Pedal Asia Podcast Episode 4

After a brief hiatus we have a bumper episode including Byron going off on a rant about Tokyo bike laws, chat about asian success at the tour, cycling in Taiwan and Gavin's little cycling sojourn around the tropical paradise that is Bali, Indonesia. We also have a chat with Mio Yamada about the Cog-Way Shikoku Discovery ride coming up in Western Japan at the end of Summer. Its a big old episode and lots of fun. Enjoy and stay safe on the bike.

Listen Now!


Uphill Challenge on Mt Fuji

This weekend myself and two friends, Jeremy Sutton-Hibbert and Greg McNevin will attempt a climb of Mt Fuji to raise money for Sightsavers charity. Sightsavers work to eliminate avoidable blindness in the developing world. We're be most grateful if you could contribute even a couple of dollars, to help the charity and help spur us on to the summit of Fuji ! You can donate safely and easily via this Just Giving link, many thanks.


Pedal Asia Podcast Episode 3 and a half

This is a short little half episode that doesnt warrent a full new episode title but we just wanted to let everyone know we are still alive and kicking.  Things have been very hectic for both of us lately but what we do have though is a great little audio piece by Byron from the Suginami Bicycle Festival from Tokyo. Enjoy and listen out for a full episode soon.

Listen Now!



Tokyo cyclists (may) face requirement to attach number plates to bikes

The Tokyo Metropolitan Government is considering requiring cyclists to attach to their bikes a large plate indicating their registration numbers.

My bicycle registration sticker.
The plan is part of the metropolitan government's efforts to prevent cyclists from illegally parking and abandoning their bicycles on streets and to decrease the number of cases in which they ride their bicycles in a dangerous manner. It is also aimed at reducing the costs of removing illegally parked and abandoned bicycles and temporarily storing them, which are footed by municipalities in Tokyo.

The metropolitan government is poised to set up a study panel on the issue to discuss enacting an ordinance.

In fiscal 2009, about 740,000 bicycles, or nearly 10 percent of approximately 9 million bicycles owned by Tokyo residents, were removed after being parked illegally or abandoned on streets. Some 310,000 of them were discarded after their owners failed to retrieve them within the six-month period set by municipalities.

Local bodies in Tokyo spent a total of 13.5 billion yen on removing illegally parked bicycles and storing them. The ongoing deflation, which has pushed down the prices of bicycles, has encouraged cyclists to easily abandon their bikes.

Difficulties in identifying the owners of abandoned bicycles are attributable largely to a lack of clear provision on what to do when the ownership of bicycles is transferred or when their owners move homes.

The registration, aimed at preventing bicycle theft, became legally compulsory in 1994. A person who buys a bicycle receives a seal bearing the vehicle's registration number after paying a 1,500-yen registration fee. Police departments store information on bicycle owners and use it in case of theft.

Even though there is no punitive clause for those who fail to register their bicycles, about 90 percent of bicycles are registered, according to an industry source. However, it becomes difficult for police to keep track of bicycle owners if they move their residences or hand over their bikes to other people.

Therefore, the metropolitan government's study group will consider legally requiring cyclists to report the changes of their registration in such cases, just like the license plates of cars.

The move is also in response to a growing number of accidents involving bicycles and pedestrians. The ratio of traffic accidents involving bicycles in Tokyo, which had stood at 30 percent in 2001, rose to 36 percent in 2010.

Pointing out that traffic accidents involving bicycles and buses in the January-October period of 2011 rose 40 percent from the corresponding period of the previous year, the Tokyo Bus Association has urged the Tokyo Metropolitan Government to mandate cyclists to attach registration plates to their bikes and enact an ordinance on the safety of bicycles.

"Since the Great East Japan Earthquake, the number of those who use bicycles to commute to their workplaces or schools has increased. If bicycles are obligated to travel on streets instead of sidewalks under the government's policy, the number of accidents will further increase," an association official said. "To prevent reckless riding, cyclists should be required to attach registration numbers."

However, cyclists and bicycle manufacturers may voice opposition to the move on the grounds that it would increase costs and that many consider such plates ugly. Considering such a possibility, the metropolitan government's study group will compile a report on such a measure by the end of this year.

"First of all, we'll take steps to ensure all bicycles will be registered. Then we'll consider ways to require bicycle owners to display their vehicles' registration numbers so that they can be seen clearly," says a metropolitan government official.

Source: Mainichi Shimbun



Critics say Tokyo Gate Bridge should have allowed bicycle traffic

Tokyo Gate Bridge, opened to traffic in February this year, could have been better developed for tourism by allowing bicycles, some critics are alleging.

Bicycles are not allowed to cross the bridge, but just before the opening to traffic on Feb. 4, a cycling event was held on the structure. Satomi Hanai, 28, of Tokyo, participated, and says she thought, "If I miss this opportunity, I may not be able to ever ride (on the bridge)." She was moved by being able to see Tokyo Bay and Mt. Fuji from the bridge.

The 2.6-kilometer bridge connects the Wakasu area of Koto Ward and reclaimed land outside of a breakwater. It is two lanes each way, with a 3.5 meter wide sidewalk only enterable from the Wakasu side. The Ministry of Land, Infrastructure, Transport and Tourism's Tokyo Port Office, which designed the bridge, says that bicycle travel would be dangerous because many large vehicles like dump trucks use the bridge. There are also no facilities on the reclaimed land side, and the undersea tunnel that is led to there is closed to bicycles. The sidewalk is both small and designed as a promenade, with a risk of accidents if bicycles were to travel on it.

A representative of the Tokyo Metropolitan Government's Bureau of Port and Harbor, which manages the bridge, said, "There was also concern that the bridge's slope was steep."

Meanwhile, the bridges of the 60-kilometer Shimanami Kaido between Onomichi, Hiroshima Prefecture, and Imabari, Ehime Prefecture, that connect islands in the Seto Inland Sea are open to bicycles due to the desire of locals to use the road for daily activities. The sections of roads and bridges are also becoming a sanctuary for cyclists wanting to enjoy the views.

Municipalities along the road have offered bicycles for rent since the opening of the bridges to traffic in 1999, with 48,178 bicycles rented in fiscal 2010 and 57,701 rented in fiscal 2011. A representative of the tourism department in Imabari called the bridges "A tourism resource not existing elsewhere."

At Tokyo Bay, however, in addition to Tokyo Gate Bridge being closed to bicycles, Rainbow Bridge can only be passed by bicycles if they are pushed across. Shigeki Kobayashi of the Bicycle Usage Promotion Study Group said, "The Tokyo bridge designers and managers are uninterested in bicycles, which are now an important form of transportation, and are not thinking of pedestrians, either. Bridges should be made use of in a similar way to Tokyo Tower, which caters to many tourists even though it is a broadcast tower."

Source: Mainichi Shimbun


Concept Electric Bicycle from 2008

Last month my daughters were dancing at the Odaiba Hawaiian Festival.  Due to the large number of performers we were allotted space in an unused exhibition area to prepare.  This area still had items from a 2008 design exhibition were on display.  Imagine my surprise when I found this concept electric bicycle from 2008.  It was like stumbling across an abandoned Zoltar machine at the fairgrounds (that's a BIG reference).

The concept bicycle was the winner of a 2008 design contest for design students.  The bicycle has a number of features that make it attractive to parents who wish to cycle with a child.  It has a low centre of gravity, three wheels for stability, electric assist, and most importantly the child is seated in front, and close to the parent.

But closer inspection reveals these design students are not parents.  The child seat is better described as a "bar stool" as it has little more than a 5cm back, which makes it most unsuitable and dangerous for a child.  There is a reason parents don't sit at the counter at ramen and sushi restaurants, and that is because children have a hard time staying perched atop stools.  Even with the foot rest and child handlebars it is still a poor design for children.

As of 2012, I've not seen any of these bicycles on the street so its safe to assume that this one never made it out of the concept stage!


Get your Japan cycling tweets at

I recently set up the domain to showcase the tweets about cycling in Tokyo and Japan from @tokyobybike in a more magazine like layout.

The page does a good job of grouping tweets around topics, and displays pictures from the articles linked which makes viewing tweets a much more visual experience than before.

But the bigest benefit of the tweets page is that it is updated constantly, unlike the Tokyo By Bike blog which can go long periods with out an update (sorry about that!)


The Super Tour of Japan Episode (Pedal Asia Episode 3)

Episode dedicated to all things Tour of Japan. Wrap up and interviews with Genesis rider John Lovelock and support staff Greg Nunn, James Machin domestic rider and all round fan of Japanese cycling and Abeki Ryoji of Champion Systems - official supplier of race kit for the tour. Loads of info and some real insight into asian pro cycling. It's our best so far so enjoy.

Listen Now!



A visit to the Suginami Bicycle Festival 2012

I was surprised on Friday when I stumbled across a poster advertising the Suginami Bicycle Festival the very next day.  Not only was the festival in Suginami, my neighbourhood, but was being held within easy cycling distance from my home in the parkland that line the Zepukuji river.  My daughters and I had already made plans to cycle to the Suginami Children’s Traffic Park on Saturday afternoon and the Festival was located just a few minutes from there. Perfect!

The festival was organised by Ken Toyama of the nearby bicycle shop Tanuki Cycle.  Aside from regular bicycle sales Tanuki Cycles specialises in custom built bicycles, including tandems, three seaters, and contraptions the likes of which you may never have seen before.  Riders of these rather unusual bicycles bought their machines to the festival not only to show them off but to give everyone a chance to ride and fall in love with them.

Visitors to the festival were more than welcome to take any of the bicycles for a ride between 5 to 10 minutes around the park.  As the majority of the bicycles were designed for more than one rider, their owners were more than happy to take anyone for a tour around the park if they didn't have the confidence to get into the driver’s seat themselves.

My daughters love their bicycles but I wasn't sure how they'd take to a tandem, three seater or a recumbent.  As soon as they arrived they spotted a three seater and before I knew it were cycling off under the care of one of the festival volunteers.  For the rest of the afternoon they did lap after lap of the park eventually trying all of the bicycles, some more than once.  This left me free to talk to Toyama-san and the other volunteers about their passion for bicycles.

Speaking to Toyama-san I learnt that this was the first year the festival had been held. He was very encouraged by the positive feedback, and above all by the laughs and smiles of festival goers as they completed a circuit or two on a bicycle they would otherwise have little opportunity to experience. We're all hoping it will become a biannual event.

The festival was a lot of fun for all.  Congratulations and thanks to Toyama-san and his hard working team of volunteers.



Tour of Japan 2012 Stage 6 (Tokyo) Highlights Video

Highlights from the sixth day of racing at the 2012 Tour of Japan. We recorded Pedal Asia Podcast Episode 3 live at the final stage of the Tour.  Look out for it on the Pedal Asia website soon!

Individual General Classification (Green jersey): Fortunato Baliani (Team Nippo)
Points Classification (Blue jersey): Taiji Nishitani (Aisan Racing Team)
King of the Mountains Classification (Red jersey): Julián Arredondo Moreno (Team Nippo)
Teams General Classification: Team Nippo

(My arm, and watch, enters the left of frame at 4:10 for approx. 0.0005ms)



Tour of Japan 2012 Stage 5 (Izu) Highlights Video

Highlights from the fifth day of racing at the 2012 Tour of Japan. With over 4000m of climbing this was the toughest stage of the tour.  One rider we spoke to said he would rather ride up Mt Fuji twice than do this stage again!

Individual General Classification (Green jersey): Fortunato Baliani (Team Nippo)
Points Classification (Blue jersey): Mariusz Wiesiak (Matrix Powertag)
King of the Mountains Classification (Red jersey): Julián Arredondo Moreno (Team Nippo)
Teams General Classification: Team Nippo



Tour of Japan 2012 Stage 4 (Fujisan) Highlights Video

Highlights from the fourth day of racing at the 2012 Tour of Japan.  Stage 4 was held on a 11.4km course up the face of Mt Fuji with a maximum gradient of 22%!

Individual General Classification (Green jersey): Fortunato Baliani (Team Nippo)
Points Classification (Blue jersey): Maximiliano Richeze (Team Nippo)
King of the Mountains Classification (Red jersey): Fortunato Baliani (Team Nippo)
Teams General Classification: Team Nippo
Read the full race report at CyclingiQ.



Suginami Bicycle Festival 2012, Saturday May 26th.

Its very late notice, but I just found out about this event from my good friend Kunitoshi Sugiura of Bicycle Ecology Japan.

Its the Suginami Bicycle Festival taking place at Suginami Nisho Mae Hiroba which is along the Zenpukuji River right where it meets Itsukaichi Doori.

My daughters were keen to ride at the Suginami Traffic Park Saturday afternoon, and this festival just a few minutes ride up the river from there, so we'll pop in for a look.  If you're in the area why don't you join us?

Images from Tanuki Cycle Blog.



Tour of Japan 2012 Stage 3 (Minami-Shinshu) Highlights Video

Highlights from the third day of racing at the 2012 Tour of Japan.

Individual General Classification (Green jersey): Julián David Arredondo Moreno (Team Nippo)
Points Classification (Blue jersey): Maximiliano Richeze (Team Nippo)
King of the Mountains Classification (Red jersey): Yusuke Hatanaka (Shimano Racing Team)
Teams General Classification: Team Nippo

Read the full race report at CyclingiQ.