Tuesday, March 24, 2009

Mother's Bicycle

I bought a bicycle! Getting around Tokyo by bicycle is so much more fun than using the train! I bought what is known here as a "mother's bicycle." It comes with a basket in front, and I bought a second basket for the back so that I can carry groceries like all of the mothers that use this type of bicycle.
In Tokyo it's impractical to have a car due to the crowding, traffic, and the high cost of parking, so many people don't drive. Mothers do their errands by bicycle with kids in tow. This bicycle, photographed in the parking lot in front of my apartment building, can carry two kids, with a seat in the back and a smaller one behind the handle bars, and groceries in the front basket.

I think it's inspirational to see so many Japanese people, including mothers, using bicycles for transportation. Using a bicycle rather than a car is one of the most effective, fun and healthy ways we can reduce our consumption. Bicycles should be for transportation, not just recreation!
The standard mother's bicycle comes equipped with a headlight that is powered by the bicycle rider. The bicycle wheel turns a small wheel on the headlight apparatus which powers the headlight. This means that my pedaling not only moves the bicycle but also powers the headlight, so I don't need to buy batteries which are harmful to the environment and also a pain if you forget to turn your headlight off. During the day, I shift the light apparatus so that it is not next to the wheel and I don't have to power it.

This is my bicycle lock. It uses a key, and doesn't lock the bicycle to anything. It just prevents the rear wheel from turning.

Compared to the U.S., Japan has very few car parking lots, but lots of bicycle parking! Bicycles line the front and side of the grocery store where Itsumi and I shop. An attendant constantly reorganizes the bicycles to make room for more. Side streets are crowded with bicycles but have few cars. Just think how much oil is being saved by every person who is not driving a car. This is how it should be!

I bought a helmet (special ordered it, because it's unfortunately not common for adults to wear bicycle helmets in Japan), I'm looking for a bicycle map of Tokyo in English, and I'm enjoying finding my way around Tokyo by bicycle!

1 comment:

Anonymous said...

What a sweet new set of wheels you have there, Kimi! May you cover many miles, happily, on it.