Monday, September 04, 2006

A prayer for unhelmeted cyclists who ride lady's bikes with baskets on footpaths...


Anonymous Anonymous said...

If you're interested, I have some video clips of cyclists in Kyoto showing how cyclists and pedestrians (and sometimes cars) manage to all share the footpaths and narrow streets without getting in each others way. It really is quite hard for New Zealanders to imagine how this can work without seeing it in action. (Email me: e.pilbrow at if you want to add it to your blog.) The key, like you say, is that they ride much slower over there than here in NZ. This is partly due to their low-performance bikes but also their whole attitude when it comes to transport (including driving) is less impatient. For example the busses don't pull over at bus stops - they just stop in their lane and although the cars bank up behind, no one toots or tries to force their way into the other lane to go around the bus. They simply wait and after 30 seconds the lane is moving again. In reality there really isn't any point trying to go around the bus because in a busy city you are likely to be stopped by a red traffic light almost immediately and the other lane is likely to be too full to fit into anyway. The average pace of the traffic is sufficiently slow that stops are accepted as part of life. Thus, when riding a bike on the footpath, they are also content to take a slower pace and stop ocasionally for large groups of pedestrians. I only saw one mountainbike in the 3 Japanese cities I visited and never saw anyone riding fast. The problem with NZ is that currently the traffic is only slow during rush hour so most of the time people expect to be able to drive at 55kph without stopping for anything. They get very impatient with anything that slows them down at all whether that be cautious drivers, traffic lights, busses pulling into the traffic flow, cyclists beside their car preventing them turning left for a few seconds until they have cycled past etc etc. Unfortunately, I think this would extend to our cycle culture meaning that if we were allowed to ride on the footpath then we would do it fast and with little regard to startling pedestrians. As a keen mountainbiker I know I'm not alone in saying I would get frustrated riding a high performance mountainbike at 15kph on a deserted footpath (like they do in Kyoto) when I could be doing 30kph. I would tell myself that if someone suddenly stepped out from a shop into my path I could swerve around them at 30kph with at least 1mm clearance no problem. That's the attitude difference between NZ and Japan that I think will preclude us ever being allowed to ride bikes on the footpath here.

11 September, 2006 10:45  
Anonymous Anonymous said...

A lot of cyclists in the UK are actively against cycle lanes. A lot of evidence shows that they are very unsafe. The same applies to road side paths including shared use pavements.

The main issue is that though the pavement/path may seem safer than the road and be separated from cars, the interactions still occur at junctions and are very much more dangerous and give lower priority to the non-road user.

Interesting to hear that it works OK in Kyoto. I wonder if the culture or other rules are different enough to affect things, or if it just shows the very low risk in cycling (whether on the road or path).

07 August, 2007 02:11  
Blogger FixedXorBroken said...

Nice post. To the anonymous troll (i.e. motorist) I would say that bicycles should be given priority at intersections to prevent accidents.

05 October, 2007 04:15  
Anonymous said...

Gidday, Alan :-)

Thanks for visiting my site! It's always great to find someone on the southern hemisphere who appreciates cycling as a culture & legitimate mode of transportation. The cycling cultures down here might be fairly small compared with the estalished ones, but in a sense that's what'll be wonderful about it all, that is to see something flourish since its infancy.



28 November, 2007 18:18  
Blogger mark said...

Electric Bicycles and Electric Scooters

Elmo The Electric Bike and Electric Scooter Guy

This is an excellent blog for electric bicycles. There are not too many around like this. Thanks for making this such an interesting subject. Oh, by the way, Wired Magazine has a great article on hybrid cars this month. (Jan 2008 issue).

God Bless,

27 December, 2007 15:33  
Blogger David Hembrow said...

Here I was looking to see what was going on in NZ these days (I lived there in the late 70s) and I come across your very interesting blog. I've not been to Japan, but what you've pictured still looks familiar in many ways.

We moved from the cycle unfriendly UK to the Netherlands in order to be in a much more cycle oriented environment. My own blog posts are mainly about how and why this works.

14 September, 2008 19:15  
Anonymous melanie said...

We recently launched a new site and it is dedicated to utility cycling, so we thought you might be interested - Please feel free to contact us if you would like to guest post or become involved in some way. Thanks!

01 July, 2009 09:37  
Anonymous Anonymous said...

IS VERY GOOD..............................

27 May, 2010 17:09  

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