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Why cycling works in Tokyo. Or does it?

I saw this video posted on the Radavist and, although I enjoyed it and agree with a lot of it, I think it paints a rosy picture of cycling here. I tend to commute by bike and I love it. Some things could be a lot better, though. Before I get to that, enjoy the video:

It's true that running a car is expensive and parking is ridiculously expensive (bear in mind you can't register a car unless you've got somewhere to park it).

One thing that was largely ignored in the video is that cyclists are often a bigger nuisance than cars. Every day I see people riding the wrong way along roads - I also drive, so this is very worrying - or listening to iPods and looking at their phones while they ride. Apparently the law is being tightened in these areas but, like riding on pavements (sidewalks), very few people I've spoken to seem to realize they're doing anything wrong (that doesn't mean I stop people and scold them, by the way).

Another problem is many people on bikes are blissfully unaware of what's going on around them. They'll swerve suddenly, ignore stop signs, ride through pedestrian crossings or - as has happened to me - literally ride into you without noticing you're there.

The sad thing is, these types of things give all cyclists a bad name, which isn't fair. I love Tokyo and I love cycling. I just wish the gaman spirit talked about in the video would run to attending a few courses on road safety, traffic rules and awareness, and cycle maintenance. That would make things safer for all of us.

The other thing that wasn't really talked about was exhaust fumes. There are some nice, wide roads in certain parts of Tokyo, but in a lot you'll be breathing in the fumes of cars, buses and trucks, which isn't particularly pleasant.

Having said all that, with lower speed limits for cars than many countries, lower crime rates in general, and awesome bicycle parks, cycling here is generally safe, easy, fun and relatively cheap. So let's end on that happy note and go for a ride!


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