When it comes to cycling, Japan Today readers are generally split between two groups -- those who love bicycles, and those who absolutely hate them.
One of the major gripes readers have is the danger posed to pedestrians by bicycles being ridden on the sidewalks. Now I believe both groups can put aside their differences and act as one by supporting a petition which will be presented to candidates in the Tokyo gubernatorial election asking the Tokyo Metropolitan Government to improve cycling infrastructure in the city ahead of the 2020 Olympic games.
Why would those that hate cyclists in the city even consider signing such a petition? Well, basically because it would mean less of those pesky cyclists on the sidewalks and we all want that right?
The petition specifically asks the government to launch a number of initiatives including:
1) Increasing the number and quality of Tokyo's bicycle paths. The total length of bike paths in New York is 1,500 kms, London has 900 kms and in Paris there are 600 kms of cycling lanes. Yet in Tokyo, there were a mere 8.7 kms of bike lanes at the end of 2011 despite huge numbers of cyclists. This needs to be addressed.
2) Improving bicycle parking conditions by creating a distributed network of parking facilities in convenient locations around the city including close to major train stations.
3) Establishing a bicycle sharing system in the lead up to the 2020 Olympics which will assist in reducing traffic congestion around the city and in particular around the Olympic village and facilities.
Cycling in Tokyo already enjoys a 16% modal share despite inadequate cycling facilities, but the majority of those trips by bicycle are made on sidewalks endangering cyclists and pedestrians alike. Improved infrastructure will create a safer environment for both cyclists and pedestrians and cyclist numbers will soar even higher promoting Tokyo to one of the greatest cycling cities in the world.
The petition has collected over 3,500 signatures since going online and that number is steadily growing. Anyone with an interest in improving Tokyo's cycling infrastructure is eligible to sign the petition including residents and non residents alike.
Even if you're not in Japan, please add your signature to the petition to show your support for cycle friendly cities around the world, and a cycle friendly Tokyo for 2020.
You can sign the petition here
The author runs the Tokyo By Bike website.© Japan Today