Owning a bike in Tokyo, while more convenient than owning a car, can still be a hassle. Bicycle theft and space for parking are among the problems that plague many Tokyo cyclists. However, your worries will pedal themselves away when you borrow a bike instead of buying one.
Docomo Cycle, Minato City’s website for bike-sharing—also known as “Community Cycle”—allows both Japanese citizens and foreigners to rent bikes and ride them to other docking ports.
Katsusuke Nishikawa, Director of Traffic Affairs at Minato City Hall, says the whole purpose of the program is to limit the number of illegally-parked bikes, which create obstacles for both pedestrians and vehicles.
“As a result [of the bike-sharing program], we don’t see illegally-parked bicycles in the Shinagawa area—just a few,” says Nishikawa.
Bicycle-sharing is not a new concept; it has been applied in other countries—although many cities have been less than successful in implementing the program. Theft has often been an issue. But Nishikawa points out that this program is insured and safe from damages and theft. “By using this GPS system, we know who’s using which bike, in which area.”
In addition to Shinagawa, Minato City has also set up biking ports in Shinbashi and Roppongi as part of a trial period. It’s limited now, but Nishikawa says he has big plans for bicycle sharing, including spreading the program to neighboring wards.
Presently, bikes cannot be ridden outside of Minato. But if the program spreads to other locations, riders would be able to wheel to farther places.
Ultimately, Nishikawa hopes that the program spreads to other parts of the metropolis before the 2020 Olympics to provide transportation for onlookers who want to experience the Games in different parts of the city.
To use the bikes, riders must register for a membership online. Bikes can then be rented with a passcode or a FeliCa card. Membership costs ¥1,000 per month, while the one-ride membership costs ¥100 per 30 minutes. There are no age requirements, as long as riders are at least 143 centimeters tall.
Docomo Cycle. http://docomo-cycle.jp