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Cycling in Japan

Old 10-23-03, 04:10 PM
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Cycling in Japan

I have been searching on the web for info regarding cycling in Japan and have come up pretty empty handed. Does anybody have any knowledge about what it is like to cycle on roads, what the laws are pertaining to cyclists as road users and the general attitude towards cyclists?

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Old 10-23-03, 04:34 PM
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Spire......just don't plan on riding a tandem. Technically, two people are not allowed on a bicycle, according to a century old law that is somewhat still enforced in some parts of the country, tandem or otherwise. Although it is a ridiculous law, I've spoken to people in the past who have toured on tandems in Japan with little trouble regarding this law.
For those currently living in Japan, I assume tandems are not available for purchase?? Just curious, what is the current law? Have they made changes in the law recently to exempt tandems?


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Old 10-23-03, 05:09 PM
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I rode for two years over there having my bicycle as my only vehicle and I rode under the same rules as here in the US, adjusting for riding on the other side of the road of course. This was about 10 years ago though so laws may have changed? Drivers over there are just as crazy as over here. In my experience good shoulders' to ride on were mostly non-existant.
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Old 10-23-03, 08:21 PM
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Bikes are extrememly common in Japan. There is pretty much no where that you cannot ride except for the expressways or places where it is specifically excluded with signage (like inside train stations). They are a widely accepted form of transportation. In fact, the biggest problem concerning bikes now is that parked bikes clog up sidewalks around train stations.

Technically, bicycles are treated as light vehicles so you are bound by the same laws as automobiles unless there are signs that say you can do otherwise (for instance, most posted one-way streets apply to autos only). However, I have also found that most riders (little old ladies included) rarely pay attention to the laws. Heck, I have even seen cops ride the wrong down the wrong of the street on their bikes.

It is very easy to get around on bicycle even though a few of the roads have more traffic and exhaust than you might like. Also some train lines will require that you have a bag or cover in which to carry your bike if you want to hop a train with your bike. I got a decent one for 3600 yen that rolls up and straps under my saddle when I am riding. As far as I know there are no provisions for putting a bike on a bus.

On the tandem issue, the law as I understand it prohibits more than one person (small children excluded) to ride on one bicycle. It's funny because even though tandems are illegal, you see high school kids riding double all the time and no one complains unless they do it right in front of a cop. By the way, this does not seem to be true for Karuizawa in Nagano Prefecture where you can rent tandems. It is only place that I have seen tandems on public roads.

Note that most of experience is in Tokyo. It may be different for other places.

Spire, what do you have in mind? Planning a bike tour of Japan?

- Jeff
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