Tuesday, November 21, 2006

Cycling in Japan

I love riding a road bike. I actually get more than 5,000 miles per year riding. That's a little more than I did in the US in an average year.

I usually ride along the Tama River (Tamagawa) bike path. On week days before noon it is somewhat safe and if I time it right, I can get in decent hi-intensity training rides. It can also be one of the most extremely dangerous places to ride a bike. Rules, laws, and common sense are routinely (and intentionally) ignored. Frankly, it seems that some people there---on mama-chari (the old 30 pound steel clunkers that everyone has) do not care whether they kill themselves and you or not. Road biking has become a little more popular recently, but the skill level of many novices is directly transferred from their mama-chari skill set. In other words, they are dangerous idiots riding with their bike under semi-control (head up ass) and going a little faster. (mama-chari rider's average speed is 6-8 mph. Road bike novice during a "hi-speed" downhill sprint with a tailwind might achieve a wobbly 17 mph before he tires out after 30-40 meters.)

Anyway, Japan Cycling Navigator's site published a short piece on law and reality in Japan as far as cycling goes. It is a good site and this article gives you some bare-bones information of what cycling can be like.

I especially like this quote: "Japanese ordinary bikers have a notorious reputation for bad behavior." His summary of cycling roads (like that along the Tamagawa): "They are like kind of lawless area. Please don't assume cycling roads are safe." Written by a straightforward Japanese guy. And so true. So very true. Ignore that advice at the very serious risk of severe injury and/or your life.

Regular roads are actually safer as laws and rules are enforced and generally obeyed on them. Many riders refuse to ride on a bike path at any time due to the danger from careless, negligent pedestrians and "cyclists."

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