Japlanning # 007 - Bike rental in Tokyo
Cycling on Electric bikes has become a fast growing recreational activity for tourists, it allows you to see sights you would perhaps not normally see if you take more popular modes of transport like the subway or a bus, and it definitely will get you from A to B faster than walking. With electric bikes having a pedal assist function it also takes a lot of the grind from peddling across distances and they can have charges that last up to 6 hours. This makes cycling a viable option for all levels of fitness whilst conserving energy.
Another great thing about cycling is that there is less of an environmental impact to wherever you are visiting and that always sits well in my books.
Is it hard to cycle in Tokyo?
If cycling was too difficult in Tokyo, all the locals wouldn't be doing it. According to some information I have read about Japan, almost over 50% of Japanese people cycle, usually to and from stations with shared bike options or to work and home, or to school and home. It is a large part of every day life in Japan. In Tokyo particularly, the Imperial palace is considered the center of Tokyo. The 23 wards of Tokyo are roughly located within about a 20 Kilometer radius of the palace.
And Central Tokyo, the area within the JR Yamanote loop line can be covered within 5-10 Kilometers from the Imperial Palace and JR Tokyo Station.
If you compare that to an average pace on a cycle machine at the gym, say you cycle for 30 minutes, you could very easily cover 5 kilometers. Making a round trip, not too challenging at all.
Is it cost effective to cycle in Tokyo?
Yes, it can be. Average electric bike hire is about 1,000 yen for a day. A regular cycle anywhere between 500 to 1,000 yen. Not bad if you consider how many stations you may pass through on the subway, averaging 150yen per stop. You could easily make a cheap outing and recreational activity from just 1 day of cycling.
The bonus is that you will see things you cannot normally see from the subway. You can also avoid all that hassle of navigating the tricky subway and allow google maps or your sense of adventure guide your way.
How easy is it to hire a bicycle in Tokyo?
Like many things in Japan, if you are not from there or do not speak the language you may find it tricky to find what you are looking for at first. But once you know what to look for you will discover that cycle hire is one of the most common activities for locals. And you will blend in, in no time.
There are a couple of very useful websites that can assist you with this: Rentabike.jp an English language website has handy guides and how to's.
And Cycling tokyo another English language website with an abundance of information and even features an bike event calendar.
What are the cycling laws, how do I know if I am doing it right?
For information about the cycling laws in Japan you can click here. It is noted on this website and in general not many people obey the 'no cycling' on footpath rules, however that is up to your discretion. It is against the law and I do not advice to push your luck, but I think in the general rule of safety if you need to use the footpath because of other vehicle traffic most people would consider that pretty normal. Another tip is that to consider the side of the road you cycle on may be different from your home country. Be sure to not cycle up the wrong side of the road and to watch out for one way streets. If all this worries you, you can always follow planned cycle routes available online or use the shared pathways. If you plan to do a lot of cycling, get travel insurance. And don't forget your helmet!
- Bike theft is a thing in Japan, so make sure that if you park up that you lock up too!
- If your convinced you want to cycle in Tokyo and want to try some group activities there is also cycling tours, you can make a booking here.
- Sundays tend to be better for cycling than a normal weekday. Less traffic.
- Try to park your bike legally, illegal bike parking is a problem in Japan. So be responsible.
- When on the road, keep to the left. There can be heavy penalties for bike accidents.
- At night cyclists must have a headlight and bell. Make sure you follow the laws and keep safe.
- Don't drink and ride - this is also against the law, you can face a heavy fine or even deportation!