Monday, February 05, 2007
Tokyo, a land of contrasts
It is often said that Japan is a land of contrasts. This is very true for the state of cycling. Any other country in the world with the levels of cycling that Japan enjoys, has reached these levels due to strong support from governments. Japan, however, seems to have high levels of bicycle use IN SPITE of the best efforts of governments.
Ochanomizu station is one good example- a very popular station on the JR line, where both the express and the local trains stop, as does the Chiyoda subway line. The area is home to numerous universities and teaching hospitals with many many students, fertile ground for a strong cycling population. So you would expect that there might be a bicycle rack near the station. In fact, you might expect that there would be bicycles everywhere around the station.
Yet, when you look around, all you can see are signs like the one above saying "NO BICYCLE PARKING" and red hats and poles up blocking the path to make absolutely clear that bicycles are not kosher here.
When you go ask the policemen on the corner - who incidentally ride bicycles themselves, why it is that there is no bicycle parking around the place, they will tell you that, well, Japan is a small place - there is not enough space. Ironically, not two feet away on the road side of the footpath, there are six full lanes of vehicular traffic, two of which are entirely occupied by parked cars.
It is even more ironic that the space these six or ten cars occupy would be more than sufficient to meet the needs of one hundred cyclists wishing to use the station. Yet rarely does anyone seem to notice just how hypocritical this is.
at 4:31 AM