101 Guide to Riding a Bicycle in Tokyo
Please read our 101 guide to riding a bicycle in Tokyo.
2 Main Types of Bicycles
The most common type of bicycle you will see everywhere is a simple bicycle with only one gear, a simple lock, a kickstand, and often a child seat. This is why they are also called “mamachari” (mom’s bicycle). Another type is an electric bicycle, which has a battery and allows you to travel to further destinations. They are also equipped with baskets on the front, where you can keep your stuff.
Like in many other cities around the world, Tokyo has also started to use more bicycles and there are more and more rental services opening. You can rent a bicycle on an hourly basis or for a whole day. Some of the services also provide an option for an annual membership. Here are some of the rental services that are available across the city:
Docomo bike share is available across the city and the country. Just download the app, register, find the closest bicycle station and start using it. All the information you need is available in English here.
Similar to Docomo’s service, Hello Cycling also allows you to download the app and use its bikes. You can find all the relevant information here.
The last one is Pippa, which works on the same principles.
Buying a bicycle and registering it
If you want to buy a bicycle you can do it online or offline.
You can search for a new bicycle on Amazon or Rakuten. Or you can visit a physical shop. There are plenty of them around the train stations. Also, some of the Don Quixote shops sell bikes as well. For the used bicycles, you can look them up on the internet, Facebook groups, or Craigslist.
As you all know, Japan is considered to be a relatively safe country. Although, even here bicycle theft is not rare. Therefore, you must register your bike, so when something happens, it will be possible to track the bike. If you are buying a new one, the shop is supposed to take care of it. If this is a second-hand one, just go to the nearest police station and do the registration yourself. It costs only 660 yen after the tax. For another 6,000 yen, you can make insurance for your bicycle, which is not a must but recommended.
Rules and parking
One of the major rules is that cyclists are not supposed to use sidewalks. However, almost everyone uses them anyway, even the police officers. If you do not follow this rule, at least remember that you are not allowed to beep the pedestrians. When you ride on a road, you are supposed to do it in the same direction as traffic.
Another important rule is to park only in the designated parking areas, otherwise, your bike can be removed by the authorities, and the only way to get it back will be by paying a fine.
The third big rule is drinking alcohol and then riding a bicycle is strictly prohibited and if the police catch you, the penalty might be severe.
Other rules say that you are not allowed to use a phone, headphones, or an umbrella while on the bicycle. Even if you see others doing this, it is not okay.
Now you know where to buy or rent a bicycle. Follow a few simple logical rules and you will be fine. Happy riding to you all!