September 26, 2013

Saitama City Plans 200km of Bicycle Lanes Over 10 Years

Saitama City recently announced a plan to create a 200km network of bicycle lanes within 10 years as part of its commitment to ensure the safety of cyclists and to promote a bicycle friendly environment.

Bicycle lane in Kanazawa Japan
According to the city Saitama Prefecture has the highest bicycle ownership per capita, partly due to the prefecture being entirely flat, with 15% of all commuters using their bicycles to ride to and from the station. Under a plan to be finalised this financial year the first lanes to be developed will expand radially from major railway stations and within 10 years connect schools, parks and public buildings to a 200km network of bicycle lanes around the city.

Currently it is unknown of the lanes will be fully separated from traffic, or if they'll simply be blue stripes on the side of the road offering little protection, but the fact that Saitama City is committed to the network and to bicycle safety is commendable.

Saitama already hosts numerous cycling events including the Tour de Saitama and next month will hold a UCI event; the "Saitama Criterium by Tour de France". The city hopes that such events will further promote bicycle usage within Saitama Prefecture, but admits they have to do their part to ensure cycling is safe for all, including not only providing infrastructure, but increasing awareness of cycling rules, and devising systems to prevent bicycle abandonment, failing that, systems to efficiently handle abandoned bicycles.

Implementation of cycling lanes has proven difficult in space starved Japan where cyclists are already quite at home cycling on the sidewalks. Saitama city is using the momentum of its national and international cycling events to garner support to drive cycling infrastructure forward.

Lets hope it does not fail, and that the bicycle lanes provided are of better quality than this bicycle lane in Yokohama.

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