12 September 2008

Japanese Bike Culture - Mamachari

Following up on a few posts about the Power of Japanese Cycling Mothers and a review of the classic bicycle used for kid transport in Japan, here's a little youtube video showing the Japanese mothers in action on their 'mamachari' bicycles.

The tourist who appears at the beginning disappears at 1:18 in the video, so just scoot past him since he doesn't really say anything interesting. The images of the cyclists speak louder than words.

Here's an article about how Japan needs more segregated bike lanes like in Europe. It's worth mentioning that while cyclists in Japan use the sidewalks and interpret the traffic laws rather liberally, it is Japanese chaos, which is still 1000 times more civilised and orderly than in Europe or North America.

I saw a funny comment somewhere... can't remember where... about how a foreigner living in Japan heard the receptionist say, while pointing at a cyclist riding past with a helmet, "Look! A Jehovas Witness!". The reason being that in that town the only people who ride with helmets are American JayDub (JWs) missionaries.


workbike said...

Roads in Japan are chaotic, and dangerous. Cars do generally go a bit slower, and there is more cooperation and negotiation, but speed limits are ignored and motorists will treat zebra crossings as a nice road decoration. I would suggest that, 'Japanese' chaos or not, being hit by a car is just as dangerous.

I don't know where they would put segregated lanes, given that buisses rarely have a seperate lane, even in Tokyo. There are a lot of bikes, but I've found that in practice the strongest seems to get right of way.

Zakkaliciousness said...

hmm, i ride bikes in japan every time i'm there and that's not my experience.

me, and the other cyclists, are all riding so slowly and casually and carefully that there is little chance of collision.

workbike said...

That is interesting- maybe it's regional attitudes. Certainly I'd hesitate before getting on a bike where my in-laws live. I found walking treacherous as well- often cyclists were riding down the pavement and not lookin where they were going (I know this because they had an umbrella in front of their face) or they saw and kept coming...

Anonymous said...

I lived in Japan (Hyogo) for 5 years. It's bike paradise. (I live in Canada now, which SUCKS by comparison.)

If you *know* how to ride, Japan is a bazillion times more fun and safe than any western country I know.

ZERO road rage.
LOTS of roads that cars can't get down. (Too narrow).
SHARING the motorcycle lane. (Trust me, if you know what you're doing, it rocks.)

Those who say that Japan is dangerous, blah, blah, blah, either haven't had it REALLY bad, or they live in some really peculiar parts of Japan.

San Smith said...

this is fantastic!