Bicycles, Electric bikes and electric scooters in Japan.

Bicycles are widely used in Japan by people of all age groups and social standings. Tourists will find that rental bicycles are available in many tourist destinations as an alternative means of getting around.

Bicycles:

The most common bicycle type in Japan and at rental shops are simple bicycles for everyday use, they are typically equipped with a basket and/or a child seat, a simple lock, a kickstand and just one gear. More advanced models with multiple gears or electric assistance are gradually becoming popular.

Bicycles rentals:

Rental bicycles are available in many tourist destinations. They can be an inexpensive and convenient way to get around relatively compact cities or towns, where distances between attractions are slightly too far to cover on foot. Rental shops can usually be found at stations. Some shops require a deposit and/or photo identification for rentals.

Parking & road safety:

In theory, cyclists are supposed to use the streets and not the sidewalks, except when signs indicate that the sidewalks are for use by both pedestrians and cyclists. In practice, however, cyclists tend not to follow this rule and use the sidewalks out of convenience. Helmets are optional and are not usually provided by rental shops.

In many big cities, there are dedicated bicycle parking areas near stations and shopping centers. Here and there you may even find multi-store parking garages for exclusive use by bicycles. Where there is a lack of designated parking space, do not follow bicycles that are ruthlessly parked even in clearly designated non-parking zones. Illegally parked bicycles may be removed by the local authorities and can only be retrieved by paying a fine.

Electric Bikes and electric scooters in Japan:

Electric bikes in japan are supposed to use a ‘pedelec’ solution and not exceed the speed limit of 28 km/H. Above that speed you may need an insurance a registration plate and a helmet will be compulsory. Electric scooters in Japan are more expensive than Electric bikes but will get you to your destination in no time and will avoid sweat. Regulation in Japan is very severe and do not allow hybrid vehicles taking a technology from another category into a different transport mode. For example an electric bicycle with a scooter solution or without a (pedelec solution) will not be tolerated. The system is very rigid in that sense and obviously authorities want to have a strong control on what is in their streets. This preventing from further innovation as long as it doesn’t come out of their own R&D institutions.

Cultural values and tradition:

Japan has often tried to deny external influence and social progress to protect its inner values. If we go to Japan it is precisely what we love about the country, the people and the way they integrate the past into the present and the future; a highly educated and dense population that likes rules and order. To overcome some of them or find better ways to solve acute problems Japan will have a peak above the wall without admitting it. Japan likes to show the rest of the world how different they are but prove to be in many ways very similar to most islanders around the world in terms of integrating what comes from the oceans and the skies. Bikes get stolen like in France or in the USA and bikes do need a lock to secure the bike. Women have to adopt the western dress code when using a bike and choose for trousers. Even though Japan is very prolific in trying to invent new personal transport modes that we see coming out of big players most of them have not much value in terms of personal performances and ease in terms of ergonomics and costs. Similar to most car making companies it remains a demonstration of internal performances without trying to solve the real issue. We do the same in Europe we brainwash people with the wrong ideas enabling to keep selling cars. In those terms Japan is simply identical to the rest of the world.

The future of mobility:

Electric scooters are the future of personal mobility as light electric powered vehicles prove to become very performant and rather cheap when compared to cars or even an electric bike. Electric bikes are a concept out of the past that has never been designed with women and children in mind. Adding a child seat or several ones on an unstable bike or two wheeler is one of the most insane solutions I have seen so far in terms of urban safety issues and should clearly be banned. Japan that seems to be very concerned about those matters hasn’t solved the issue either nor has it focused in trying to do so.  A solution seem to emerge from Europe with the johanson3 series: a range of 5 complementary stable electric scooters that has all the prerequisite qualities to provide the traveler, the user all the functional support he may be expecting from a fast, fun, clean and functional mobility tool. Using standard technology in terms of propulsion but a highly performing and updated frame that adapts to the drivers needs to whatever they may be.