Six Candidates for Tokyo Governor Support Cycling in the City

Byron Kidd
On January 27, 2014, organisers of the Tokyo Cycling City petition aimed at improving cycling infrastructure in Tokyo in the lead up to the 2020 Olympics presented their demands to 11 of the 16 of the Tokyo gubernatorial election candidates.

The petition, which has collected over 6,000 signatures to date, asks candidates for the post of Tokyo Governor to take action in the following areas:

1) To expand and Improve Tokyo's sadly lacking network of cycling lanes.

2) To provide sufficient bicycle parking in convenient locations around the city.

3) To implement a city wide bicycle sharing scheme.

Of the 16 candidates contacted just 6 have responded officially to the survey, and as the election is just days away it appears unlikely that more will do so.

Candidates were presented with each of the three demands and were asked to rank their support for each issue with choices ranging from making any or all of the points an election pledge, or agreeing in principle and to strive to achieve the goals right down to outright rejection of the proposals.

Both Ieiri Kazuma and Yoshiro Nakamatsu (Doctor Nakamatsu) responded by making all three points of the petition election pledges. With Kazuma taking an environmental stance on the issue while Doctor Nakamatsu expressed concern with the currently accepted but quite dangerous practice of cyclists mixing with pedestrians.

Candidates Yƍichi Masuzoe and Suzuki Tatsuo indicated that they supported all the points in principal and agreed to strive to achieve the goals if elected to the post of Governor of Tokyo. Suzuki indicated that cycling infrastructure should be improved regardless of the 2020 Olympics.

Political heavyweight, and former Prime Minister, Morihiro Hosokawa made extension and improvement of Tokyo's network of cycling lanes along with a city wide bicycle sharing system election pledges and showed principal support for more parking facilities in convenient locations around the city. Why he chose to place a lower priority on parking is a mystery as an improvement in cycling lanes will undoubtedly create a need for more parking.  Hosokawa aims not only to crate a bicycle sharing scheme such as those in London, Paris and New York, but to also improve the walkability in Tokyo.

Finally Kenji Utsunomiya made improvement of cycling lanes an election pledge and showed support in principle for better parking facilities and a city wide bicycle sharing scheme. In his comments he noted that densely populated cities such as Tokyo should strive to be less car centric.

So of 16 candidates contacted, 6 respond. Those showing the most support by making election pledges do not necessarily make the most enlightened comments while some of those that agree in principle seem to have a better grasp of the issue.

The big thing we can take from this exercise is that of the 11 candidates contacted 5 of those chose to COMPLETELY IGNORE cycling infrastructure as an election issue. Even so, we have to take pride in the fact that we collected over 6,000 signatures, and presented them along with our demands to each of the candidates, one of whom will become Governor of Tokyo this weekend. Even those who chose not to respond to the petition have heard that the citizens of Tokyo want better cycling infrastructure. Maybe we're just a tiny blip on their radar, but our presence has been made known.

Correction: The article originally stated all 16 candidates had been presented with the petition when only 11 had. It appears that 5 of the 16 were unable to be contacted, making them unworthy of your vote, after all who wants to vote for a candidate that can't be contacted for an opinion?

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  1. From what I know, only 11 candidates have been contacted.
    (Others had not provided their contact information.)
    So the number of candidates who ignored the call would be 5.

    1. Thanks for your comment. I've confirmed the information and updated the article accordingly.

      Of the 16 candidates in the election 6 responded to the survey, 5 don't consider cycling an issue, and 5 more are so difficult to contact that they seemingly do not want to listen to the voice of the people.

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