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34,247 bicycles left abandoned at Tokyo train stations in 2016

36 Comments

The Tokyo metropolitan government says the number of bicycles abandoned at train stations in the city was 34,247 in fiscal 2016, about 2,700 fewer than the previous year.

Government officials said the number of abandoned bicycles has been decreasing each year since its peak of about 240,000 in 1990, Sankei Shimbun reported.

Each year in October, all passenger train stations in Tokyo are visited to tally the number of bicycles and motorcycles abandoned within a 500-meter radius.

Last year, JR Akabane Station had the highest number for the second straight year with 491 bikes, followed by 475 at Shibuya Station and 437 at Kinshicho Station.

In 2014, when Akihabara Station was notified that it had the highest number of discarded bicycles, railway operators and electric appliance stores cooperated in a public awareness campaign to prevent the number from increasing. As a result, last year the famous district had only 302 abandoned bicycles — half the number from two years ago.

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And, are on their way to China! It's cheaper to by a new bicycle every few months than to pay for bicycle parking. Nobody should be surprised by this statistic!

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The Tokyo metropolitan government says the number of bicycles abandoned at train stations in the city was 34,247 in fiscal 2016, about 2,700 fewer than the previous year.

I imagine demographic aging is partly involved.

0 ( +1 / -1 )

Good, ship them to a country indeed of them

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@Disillusioned.. Interesting reason but economically would not stack up because if a new bicycle was purchased every few months then they would still need parking at the stations. And I don't know the parking rates for bikes in Tokyo.

Probably Nessie has the best reason though I still feel that would not be the most likely as the aging who ride bikes would not normally be that well to do that they could just discard their bikes whenever.

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I think what @Disillusioned is suggesting is that it's cheaper for people to NOT pay for parking and park it illegally near the station. Then, when it's picked up in an annual or semi-annual sweep and counted, like this article describes, they buy a new one. Not sure if that's true, it would depend on how much station parking is at Tokyo stations like the ones mentioned. If you're out in the suburbs, it's not so expensive.

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The reason I was given is that many J ppl, particularly students, move from the country to Tokyo every year, purchase a bike then discard it when they have to go back. Easier/cheaper (apparently) than to send it back home.

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There are a growing number of programs where such bicycles are shipped to SE Asian countries for people who will appreciate and use them wisely, and that's a great use of the rampant waste here. Somebody needs to teach the Japanese what "mottainai" means.

3 ( +5 / -2 )

Thanks Borax and goldorak, I didn't realise they were illegally parked. But how do the authorities know they were abandoned bicycles? I would be somewhat upset if I parked my bike and went to pick it up later, or the next day and found out it was gone (confiscated). Here people park their bicycles anywhere, chained of course.

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I got my bike taken away twice, and every time I went to retrieve it there was a massive number of bicycles neatly parked, some I guess cost above 100.000 yen... I wished they could sell those bicycles for the "needed" in Japan, but it would only create a circle of discarded-cheaply purchased bicycles. Hope they generate some revenue to the city and help riders abroad.

3 ( +4 / -1 )

Most are not abandoned by their owners, but rather by thieves stealing them and when they get to the station they do not even lock them up.

I asked about it at my local Koban.

6 ( +6 / -0 )

what happens to these bikes ? do they go to a compound for a month or two? how do you prove its yours? can you identify you bike sir? yes it has two wheel a handle bar and seat and its black in colour. (take your pick) do you have to pay to get it out again if its been taken by mistake? how many people take the serial number as proof? does the Tokyo government sell these bikes to XXXX? if so what happens to the money? where does that go? IF they are given away to some country, well thats good news at least some one will gain.

1 ( +1 / -0 )

According to law, bicycle owners are suppose to register their bike, which have a number on them, with the local koban, but I never did and I know no one having a problem over that. I wonder if people are still doing that. If stolen or abandoned the cops can then trace the owner. If removed like outside Tokyo station I think they are required to keep them for a period so people who have registered them can claim them back.

There are also many broken abandoned bicycles which are no longer collected by the ward offices but a little fixing up could be a bicycle again in a country of need.

3 ( +3 / -0 )

"abandoned" doesn't suit a majority of the situations where the bikes are collected. they are "parked" at the station by people who don't own a bike parking space, are in a rush or who don't realize they are parking in a restricted zone. since the bikes aren't collected everyday, people hope that when they come back, the bike will also be there.

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As MsDelicious said above, many of those bicycles probably have been stolen and abandoned by the thief that took them. Some friends have lost their bicycles this way ... and a couple of months or so later they are informed by the police that their bikes have been found and if they want them they can pick them up at a certain place. Be sure to lock your bicycles when parking them ... or else you, too, may be walking ...

2 ( +2 / -0 )

I think one reason of that is they dont need it anymore and since its tiring to throw it on its designated place and schedule bla bla bla, they will just ride it and park it in a train stations and just leave and let the police keep it lol

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Indeed, "abandoned" probably only counts for a small number of the bikes collected.

Many stations dont have much bike parking nearby, or only have bike parking for those lucky enough to get a spot in their overcrowded bike parking stations (which cost around 2000yen a month). So you end up parking next to all the other bikes parked in very clearly marked "no parking zones". At most you usually just get a tag on your bike saying "this is illegally parked" but a few times a year the collectors will come (they announce it beforehand usually) and clean up bikes left there.

It costs 5000yen to collect your bike after it has been taken; something i didnt bother doing when my 7000yen bike got taken

2 ( +2 / -0 )

I just sold my bike to another foreigner, we even did the transfer of ownership(500yen & new sticker).

All new bikes should get registered when sold(500yen). Hard to proof ownership otherwise when stopped.

Parking outside most stations varies between 2000-3000yen/month, about the same to rent & park.

Wards to keep the collected/illegaly parked Bikes for 2-3 months before recycling, etc. Fees apply for collecting

1 ( +1 / -0 )

zichiAPR. 11, 2017 - 04:01PM JST

According to law, bicycle owners are suppose to register their bike,

The registration system does not work. As MsDelicious mentioned, most of the abandoned bicycles are stolen ones. And the police do not use the registration number to salvage the "abandoned" bicycles. See Question 7 here. http://www.bouhan-net.com/qa/#q06

The bicycle registration is a useless system, which just exists to give extra cash (registration fee) for the policemen.

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Bike collection and storage is City-Hall not Cops.

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pacintAPR. 11, 2017 - 04:50PM JST

Bike collection and storage is City-Hall not Cops.

That is right. So, the bicycle registration, which is a police system, does not work to return the "abandoned" bikes to the owners.

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CH3CHO

yes thanks, I never registered my bicycle and thanks to pacint, the abandoned bikes are collected by the ward office.

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zichi: "but I never did and I know no one having a problem over that. I wonder if people are still doing that."

I think it is generally done when you buy a new bicycle, but it might depend on the shop. I did it with mine because I have an expensive bike and want it registered in the event (hopefully never happens) it's stolen. The second reason I did it, though, was because I most certainly had problems with not doing so. I went to the police station in my town once with a friend who's bike was stolen because she could not speak any Japanese. The officer at reception was in a foul mood and instead of taking us seriously started accusing us of committing a crime by not registering her bike when she bought it. We explained that she bought it from a foreigner who left town, but he said she has no proof and could have stolen it. He then asked me about my bike. I also bought my bike from a foreigner, a British guy who went back home, and he started to fill out different forms, telling me I was also in violation of the law. Fortunately there was another J-cop listening in in the background and who came forward, and asked if I was the "so-and-so" who knows his son. I said yes, then he started laughing and introduced himself, shook my hand, etc. He patted the other guy on the shoulder, who then left, and we started again, this time focussing on my friend's bicycle theft. He kindly explained at the end that we should indeed register our bikes.

The second time I almost got nailed on it, when four police cornered me in a parking lot to ask if my bike was stolen (while bosozoku rode around unchecked behind them), I had already registered it, so they just asked me other meaningless questions for a while and left.

3 ( +3 / -0 )

In addition to the theft angle, I think this is an obvious result to the difficult process that goes along with getting rid of large pieces of trash (the need to make an appointment, the cost of disposal, etc.). I think if there were a free/cheap and easy way to get large trash collected, there would be a decrease in abandoned bikes.

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We used to have a huge problem with bikes parked willynilly outside stations and could no longer walk on pavements

Problem solved now as our City build more bicycle storages.

2 ( +2 / -0 )

@smithinjapan

you know, in 20+years in Japan no one has ever asked me for anything. Rode the same expensive bicycle for 15 years, never registered it. Never asked for my Alien Card except at the airport and that was only a quick glance and so far never asked with the new residents card. Guess I must look like an Old Father Christmas or something, except when I buy beer in a convenience store then I'm asked to touch the pay till to show I'm over 20.

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As far as I know, shops require to register the bike when buying it. For used bikes it is better to register to change the ownership just in the uncommon case the police becomes zealous and decides for some controls. It never happens anyway. Registered my used bike 15 years ago just for that

Used bikes used to be shipped to North Korea that was recycling them to use the metal. I think this has stopped due to the international sanctions

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Check the local rivers, they'll be another 30,000 there I'll bet.

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I was stopped recently and questioned over my bicycle since it too hadnt been registered.

In my case, when I bought the bicycle - over 15 years ago, there was no mention of needing to have it registered - so I'm thinking that this registration thing, must be a recent innovation.

After a fair bit of discussion with the Policemen who had stopped me, (started with just one, then 3 others soon joined...) I agreed to get it registered - they said I could go to any bicycle shop... but unfortunately, when I tried that, I was told that I had to register it at the shop from which it had been bought. Which if no longer exists.... poses a problem.

I guess, this saga will continue for a bit longer.

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Bike registration is not new, had to do it 20yrs ago, my J-Wifes bike(left behind for yrs) was also registered.

You are advised to do it at purchase time at the bike shop, they got all the needed papers and stickers.

When cops stop people to check for ownership they use the sticker number to pull the record. Often had cops stop beside and glance at the sticker.

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I live in the country and since the police have nothing better to do, they pull over everyone to check their bikes. Thats young people right up to little old ladies. A saw a policeman rip into a lady about 80 for not having a basket and using her handlebars to hang a bag of bread.

This was happening while people are speeding in cars, running red lights etc etc and they are not caught at all. I think that the Police here have their priorities mixed up

3 ( +3 / -0 )

I would like to know how many were stolen and then dumped

-1 ( +0 / -1 )

The J cops really need to spend time on other things like cars running red lights which I have the misfortune to see everyday....

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Japan can just ship these abandoned bicycles along with the regular dumping of old automobiles to the poorer countries next time. I don't understand why this is an issue now when it was never an issue in case of used automobiles till date.

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I had one bike stolen so I bought a new one. Two months later cops called me up and said we have your bike. I said I no longer need it and they said then I had to come down and pay ¥500 or take the bike. A thief stole it, I had to fork out more money for a new one, and now the cops wanted me to pay for it. Stupid.

-2 ( +1 / -3 )

Bicycles left at stations are usually on public property and so may be removed rather easily if found to be in violation of parking regulations. On the other hand, bicycles left on private property are not automatically removed by the "bicycle police". These areas become sanctuaries and if that property is occupied by a business that has closed, I doubt any bicycles will be removed for some time as there is no complaintant.

1 ( +1 / -0 )

Mostly ''mamachari'' types, no doubt. Pretty worthless crap. Melt them down and make good use of them.

1 ( +1 / -0 )

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