The Best of Tokyo By Bike

Byron Kidd
Over the years some great stories have appeared on Tokyo By Bike, but unfortunately they quickly get lost in amongst the sheer number of articles posted. Below are what I consider to be some of the stand out articles from Tokyo By Bike, the ones that remain popular despite their age, and the articles I point people to the most when they're seeking information. I believe these articles combined go a long way to giving an overview of what cycling is really like in Japan and what the Tokyo By Bike site is all about.


A lot of what makes everyday cycling work in Japan isn't infrastructure its Japanese society, people, their attitudes and the cities themselves. I've been observing cycling in Japan for almost 20 years and he articles below summarise many of my findings.

What makes Japan a great cycling nation?

Japan is ranked by Copenhagenize founder Mikael Colville-Andersen as the third great cycling nation behind The Netherlands and Denmark. At the time I read this, despite having lived in Japan over a decade, even I found that information surprising but looking around me I shouldn't have. Learning that someone like Mikael held Japan in such high regard changed my perspective on cycling in Japan and shifted my focus from recreational cycling to everyday cycling. I set out to find what makes cycling such a poplar form of transport for millions of Japanese people every day in this article and surprised even myself with what I discovered. Read article.

How Suburban Tokyo Promotes Cycling (Without even trying)

In the article above I discovered that the design of Tokyo's neighbourhoods plays a vital role in keeping cyclist numbers high despite the lack of infrastructure. This article explores that idea in more detail demonstrating that compact self contained neighbourhoods promote cycling as a viable form of transport and that there exists a symbiotic relationship between a healthy cycling culture and successful small businesses. Read article.

Why Suburban Japan is Teeming With Female Cyclists

Despite a lack of cycling infrastructure Japanese cities are teeming with female cyclists. Cities around the world are actively encouraging more women to cycle, maybe they could learn something from Japan? Unfortunately emulating Japan in this case may not be the most desirable course of action. Read on to find out why. Read article.

Japan's Cycling Seniors

Everyone in Japan cycles and that includes the elderly. Cycling keeps them health both physically and mentally, but more than this it keeps them connected with their community and helps them to remain socially active in a way that car centric communities can not. Everything should be done to accommodate elderly cyclists as the benefits for both them and society are enormous. Read article.

Japanese Cycling Laws

Cycling laws in Japan are poorly understood end even more poorly enforced. This is both good and bad as it gives cyclists great freedom in choosing where and how to ride without fear of copping a fine, but alternatively if we're not all reading from the same page accidents will occur.

Of Bicycle Laws in Japan and Other Mythical Beasts

This ever popular article from way back in 2009 gives a quick overview of Japanese cycling rules, and he penalties for not complying with them. But as few people actually follow the rules I suggest everyone follow just one rule "Exercise some common sense and ride safely". Read article.

Why Bicycle Laws in Japan Are Like Monopoly Rules

Cycling laws in Japan go largely untaught and unenforced which has resulted in the Japanese people evolving the laws over time into an unwritten yet generally understood set of rules most people abide by. (I get hammered for this opinion constantly, but it is one I stand by, and I think its wonderful that people have come up with their own set of rules rather than having them enforced upon them from above.) Read article.

Cycling Infrastructure

When city planners in Tokyo think of cycling infrastructure they consider noting more than providing enough parking lots, and the processes that need to be in place to deal with abandoned and illegally parked bicycles. Bicycle lanes are largely nonexistent in Tokyo but with the Olympics arriving in 2020 there is a new focus on cycling infrastructure in the city, but is it misguided?

The Various Designs of Tokyo's Bicycle Lanes

The Tokyo Metropolitan Government administers just a small percentage of the roads in Tokyo with the rest being controlled by the cities individual wards who are all using a different playbook when it comes to designing bicycle lanes which has resulted in a wide variety of different styles of bicycle lanes popping up all over the city. This article takes a look at a number of those designs from around the city. Read article.

Sidewalk Circus

Despite the controversy sidewalk cycling stirs up it works better than you'd expect in Tokyo and until the government can provide safe protected bicycle lanes I believe cyclists are better off on the sidewalk as long as they ride safely and respect the rights of pedestrians. Here is an article I wrote on the topic for Metropolis Magazine. Read article.

Bicycle Commuting

I've been a bicycle commuter for as long as I remember and as such there is quite a bit of commentary about bicycle commuting in the metropolis of Tokyo. Tokyo may not seem the easiest place in which to cycle to work but believe me, it is, and doing so will add so much more joy to your days.

Japan's National Bike To Work Ban

OK, I'll admit that this subject is pure click bait. There is no national ban on cycling to work in Japan, but that does not change the fact that many employers actively discourage their employees from cycling to work which in a country with so many utilitarian cyclists is just insane. Given the nature of Japanese employees not to fight the system employers have effectively bullied their employees from partaking in one of the healthiest modes of transport around. Read article.

How Many Japanese Cycle To Work

Given that employers threaten bicycle commuters with all kinds of punishments if they disobey company rules and cycle to work just how many people are cycling to work in Japan? This article pulls some figures together to paint a picture of just how people in Japan are travelling to work. Read article.

Employer Benefits Of Bicycle Commuting

Occasionally someone who works at a company that has asked them to stop bicycle commuting will contact me to explore their options. Of course I encourage them to stand up to their employers as they have no legal right to dictate an employees mode of transport to work. But I also try to get them to make their employer aware of all the benefits cycling employees bring their business. Read article.

Encouraging Employees to Cycle to Work

Despite this gloomy outlook for commuter cyclists in Japan some businesses are actively trying to encourage more employees to cycle to work so I furnish them with these tips to bring more people into the bicycle commuting fold. Read article.

Bicycle Commuting in Tokyo? Are You Insane?

Cycling to work in a city that boasts safe, clean and efficient public transport systems, and one whose morning rush hour roads are jam packed full of cars sounds like an insane activity, but I have my reasons or choosing to cycle to work. Read article.

How To Turn Any Mountain Bike Into A Commuter Bike

I've converted my old mountain bike into a sturdy commuter bicycle which I think is perfect for Tokyo. Fast and light, yet strong enough to take a few hits in the bicycle parking lot. If you're looking for the perfect commuter bike, maybe it already exists in your garage, you just haven't realised yet. Read article.


Japanese city bikes do not receive the love they deserve.

Introducing the Mamachari

The mamachari is the family station wagon of Japan. For the most part they're cheap, reliable and perfect for daily tasks such as ferrying one or more children to school doing the shopping and taking yourself to the station. They're under appreciated and I want to change that. Read article.

Why Cargo Bikes Face A Tough Market In Japan

I love cargo bikes, and wish I had one when my children were smaller and I had to carry all that play equipment to the part for weekend picnics, but given the cost and versatility of the Japanese mamachari bicycle I believe cargo bikes face a tough time entering the Japanese market. Read article.

How To

A collection of articles on how things are done in Japan to help you out.

Can I take my bicycle on the train in Japan?

Sure you can, but it has to be partially disassembled and packed neatly into a bicycle bag (or failing that some garbage bags from the nearest convenience store!) Read article.

How To Register Your Bicycle in Japan

All bicycles in Japan must be registered, and display a registration sticker. Although the sticker is easily removed the police rely on this system to return stolen bicycles to their owners. If you're caught riding a bicycle without a sticker the police can detain you under suspicion of being a bicycle thief and can even confiscate your bicycle. This article has links to all the forms require to register your bicycle and transfer ownership of a bicycle to another person. Read article.

Traveling from Narita Airport to Tokyo with a Bicycle

Tokyo's main international airport isn't even in Tokyo which makes transporting your bicycle from the airport to the city a bit of a challenge. This article explains some of the options available. Read article.

11 Tips For Cyclists New To Tokyo

You may be an experienced and confident urban cyclists, but each city is different. This article points our some common dangers and dangerous practices that may be unique to cycling in Japanese cities. Read article.

How To Cycle Japanese Style

On second thought, maybe you shouldn't follow these tips. Read article.

There are literally hundreds of articles about cycling in Japan on Tokyo By Bike. I've highlighted many of my favourites and most popular ones here, but often surprise even myself when I dig up a forgotten article from the past. Please do explore the site and do not hesitate to contact me if you can't find just the information you're looking for.

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