Here
and
Now

opinions

Tokyo governor's cycling policy needs a rethink

19 Comments

At a press conference held on Aug 29, Tokyo Governor Yoichi Masuzoe responded to questions regarding his vision for cycling in Tokyo in the lead-up to the 2020 Olympics. His answers were interesting to say the least.

In principal, the governor supports the installation of street level bicycle lanes, over sidewalk level lanes and is committed to expanding Tokyo's network of bicycle lanes across the city. This sounded like wonderful news ... until he elaborated on his answer.

During his elaboration, things became a lot less clear as he indicated that Tokyo's widely accepted practice of sidewalk cycling would not be stamped out even in areas where bicycle lanes are widespread. In particular, he singled out mothers who carry one or more children on their bicycle who may not be comfortable cycling on the roads may prefer to cycle on the sidewalks which he described as "safer".

Defending this stance, Masuzoe said that he believes forcing roadies, bicycle commuters (both of whom make up a tiny percentage of Tokyo's cyclists), the elderly and mothers (who account for a much larger percentage) to mix is a bad idea.

He acknowledged that the common practice of cycling in both directions on the sidewalk is a dangerous but is one so common that to prevent it would make cycling a much less convenient form of transport for all.

By allowing sidewalk cycling to continue in the presence of new bicycle lanes, one must ask just how committed Tokyo's governor is to providing a safe, world-class, cycling infrastructure?

From the very beginning, Masuzoe has admitted that he plans to build bicycle lanes which he himself believes will be too unsafe to accommodate mothers and children. A bicycle lane too unsafe for mothers and children is by its very nature too unsafe to accommodate anyone. Why waste taxpayers money on infrastructure he acknowledges is flawed from the start?

The governor has also fallen into the trap of trying to accommodate the needs of everyone over the needs of the majority. The majority of Japanese cyclists are "regular people" riding mamacharis on the sidewalks at speeds less than 30 km/h for distances of less than 2 km each trip. Compared to these cyclists, the roadies, mountain bikers and bicycle commuters make up just a small percentage of the total number of cyclists.

Masuzoe really should be focusing on the needs of the majority. At the press conference, he acknowledged Japan's aging population and declining birth rate will eventually mean less mothers and more elderly cyclists. Yet his policy seems to be to provide lanes (which I assume will be little more than blue paint on the roadway) for young, active and fearless cyclists (of whom there are few) while allowing everyone else, including mothers and the elderly to continue cycling on the sidewalks. As a result, his proposed cycling infrastructure will do little to change the current situation.

If Masuzoe is not fully committed to protected road level bicycle lanes which are safe enough for everyone in the community to cycle in, he is not committed to cycling in Tokyo.

Personally, I believe Masuzoe's policy needs a rethink.

© Japan Today

©2021 GPlusMedia Inc.


19 Comments
Login to comment

Speaking from both sides of his mouth is Masuzoes' style. . . .

Personally, I believe Masuzoe’s policy needs a rethink.

THAT is exactly the problem !! ........................... Masuzoe DOES NOT "Think". . . .. He fumbles through until SOMEONE INTELLIGENT (from on top) tells him what to do / say . .etc . . .

0 ( +0 / -0 )

It's not a great plan at all from a locals perspective but from the international visitors point of view, it looks a lot more attractive. The DC area has been on this bike lane kick for years yet seem heavily underused as well. I'd say most people using the bike lanes are tourists.

2 ( +2 / -0 )

Defending this stance, Masuzoe said that he believes forcing roadies, bicycle commuters (both of whom make up a tiny percentage of Tokyo’s cyclists), the elderly and mothers (who account for a much larger percentage) to mix is a bad idea.

I'm sorry, but what the hell is a "roadie"???

2 ( +2 / -0 )

you can make city to have dedicated roads of cyclists No need to use motor cars for short distance commuting, also cycle is a kind of yoga to give your legs good muscles to thighs as also hands to besides your sitting posture can be steadily improved, Besides cardiac arrests would get phased out in all persons due to cycling activity. You need not have to be a racer but just normal cyclist from all aspects of health point of view!

0 ( +1 / -1 )

I tend to agre that cycling lanes on sidewalks are in principle preferable to lanes on roadways, though in certain circumstances I suspect the cost of the latter is much lower.

Im not sure it is such a bad policy though. I think one of the main purposes of cycling lanes in Japan is specifically to remove the people who ride fast, and pose the biggest annoyance/threat to pedestrians, from the sidewalks. These lanes will probably accomplish that. Little old ladies and mothers riding mama chari dont really fall into that category and there isnt really much need to remove them from sidewalks at all - they ride so slowly that they arent much different from having a jogger on the sidewalk. I think most people would be perfectly happy to let them continue riding on the sidewalk for that reason. Creating cycling lanes specifically for them to share with fast riding cyclists is more likely to cause problems - speedsters pose as much a threat/annoyance to slow riding mamachari riders as they do to pedestrains (and vice versa - it will be very annoying for anyone looking to ride fast to find cycle lanes clogged with little old ladies riding their groceries home).

1 ( +2 / -1 )

Someone's always got a problem. Let's start with just building the bicycle lanes - having them is better than not. Then we can start to focus on getting people to use them properly. There's a good chance that by the time that they are built, there will be a new governor anyways.

3 ( +3 / -0 )

Does anyone have a link for a Japanese language version? Curious to read the original wording.

-1 ( +0 / -1 )

I rode everywhere with my children and I'm happy to ride on sidewalks, it's easy to avoid busy sidewalks, just go through a different road. I don't see any point in spending money to build such infrastructure. Is it really needed ? What the data/statistics are saying ?

-3 ( +0 / -3 )

That is one of the main reason I don't like this guy.... he has no commitment. Masuzoe is just a Yes man who will end up doing nothing (as he did when he was Minister)....

2 ( +2 / -0 )

Look at that cycle lane in the picture. It's too narrow for cycles riding in opposite directions to pass safely, it has poles and signs either side of it all the way along the road and it's not separated from the footpath which means people will be walking in it.

There are similar lanes in Sendai, even more dangerous than this, with random 90 degree turns, no clear views and fences in front of the lanes at crossings. These were built next to a massive new road with many lanes. Whoever designed them has no clue at all. Other lanes they put right next to footpaths and they are always full of pedestrians meandering along oblivious to anything. When they reach a crossing you get cars flying out from the side street and blocking the lane, making them dangerous to use too.

Cycle lanes should be at street level and one-way only. Any vehicles obstructing them should receive large fines. Anyone cycling on the wrong side of the road should be taken away and shot.

6 ( +6 / -0 )

I live in Chuo-Ku, Tokyo. On one large section of sidewalk that covers a distance of almost 3 kms has a dedicated cycling lane. To clarify, half of the sidewalk for pedestrians, and half for cyclists. The issue for me as an avid cyclist is the lack of education. More than half the time I ride there are people walking on the cycling path. Not only is it annoying its dangerous. The path itself is clearly marked with large "bicycle" sings painted on the path. I think one issue is that there is only a thin white painted line that divides the two halves. It would be great if all cycling lanes that do exist had more "obvious" indication that there is a cycling lane. I photo above, which I do believe is the cycling lane that connects shin-toyosu to odaiba would be great. This is my two cents worth. Thanks for reading.

6 ( +6 / -0 )

Typical dumbness and not well thought out.

His comment here is bot real clever either

He acknowledged that the common practice of cycling in both directions on the sidewalk is a dangerous but is one so common that to prevent it would make cycling a much less convenient form of transport for all.

So going on this logic, re introduce the once common practice of drinking and driving, because quite honestly walking home from the bar is a hell of a lot less convenient than driving ever was.

Some not so bright people often get into jobs where they enjoy making dumb rules and telling others how to live their lives.

0 ( +0 / -0 )

Anyone cycling on the wrong side of the road should be taken away and shot.

Too true!! Had way too many close calls with these idiots!

2 ( +2 / -0 )

Cycling on pavement and wrong way both dangerous. also pedestrians don't just walk in the desuignated cycle lanes, they often walk in the street oblivious to cars etc. Fact is that many people live life in a bubble with no awareness of what is going on around them - on a bicycle that can be downright dangerous

0 ( +0 / -0 )

Our town has bicycle lanes, they are a joke. Bicycles weaving in and out to avoid hitting parked vehicles is surely going to cause serious accidents. Also, with the bicycle lanes near my home some use them, some don't. Educating the masses is impossible. It's already bad enough when kids come on to a main street from a side street without checking for coming traffic on foot or on bicycles.

1 ( +1 / -0 )

It's amazing how the rules for cars are unforced here and how lax it is for bicycles. They should enforce those rules before the cycle road construction begins.

1 ( +1 / -0 )

I don't think mamacharis pose a threat to pedestrians. They're an inconvenience, maybe, but I agree with Masuzoe in stating that forcing them into bike lanes with bike commuters and other high-speed cyclists would create unnecessary danger for everyone. As far as I can tell, the only viable option for the author would be to create a second bike lane for mamacharis, and leave the current/expanding bike lanes for high-speed cyclists. That would cost a fortune, and is money that could be spent elsewhere more productively.

1 ( +1 / -0 )

The elected leaders of my current city decided to encourage bicycling so they painted a blue line on a one-lane road reducing it to a three-quarters lane road. When a bicycle uses the bicycle lane, cars have to swerve into oncoming traffic (or stop, obviously not an option).

Then they had to put up no-parking signs so cars wouldn't block it. Said signs were put in the bicycle lane so bicycles have to swerve out into the car lane to avoid them. Tourist buses, of course, are exempt from the no-parking rule. Seems Masuzoe is taking advice from my city leaders.

1 ( +2 / -1 )

I don't see any point in spending money to build such infrastructure. Is it really needed ? What the data/statistics are saying ?

There isn't any point. It is already legal for bicycles to use the roadway without bike lanes, in fact, they are legally required to do so.

Since bicycles are already required to use the regular roadways, those roadways should be made safer. Increasing drivers license education about cyclists on the road would help, and using the French-style system which automatically assigns blame to cars in vehicle vs cyclist collisions unless there is documentary evidence to the contrary.

1 ( +1 / -0 )

Login to leave a comment

Facebook users

Use your Facebook account to login or register with JapanToday. By doing so, you will also receive an email inviting you to receive our news alerts.

Facebook Connect

Login with your JapanToday account

User registration

Articles, Offers & Useful Resources

A mix of what's trending on our other sites