Bicycles – Lots and Lots of Bicycles
This is only a tiny example of a huge phenomenon in Tokyo – bicycle parking. People just leave their bikes wherever, locked or unlocked, and they sit for however long completely untouched. My bike is the second one in in the photo. I parked the bike and stepped back to take the photo. Before I could get my camera fully ready, someone slid in between me and my bike and parked his quickly. He walked away in a quick second, not bothering to lock his bike. This site is in front of Temple University, where I teach two afternoons a week. There is a line of bikes that extends down the block, stops for an intervening street, and then continues down the next block. People are generally polite and don’t park their bikes perpendicularly if the sidewalk is narrow, but this sidewalk is unusually wide for Tokyo, so that’s how they fit in the most bikes. Scads of bikes as far as the eye can see…
The phenomenon is by no means particular to Tokyo – any city that has a big population of cyclist will have random bike parks – but it feels totally un-American. Americans wouldn’t bunch their bikes together like that and certainly they wouldn’t have 50% or more of them unlocked, like they are here. I’m not sure where else in the world would have a lack of locks like this.
To be honest, I have never thought much about bike parking before, but now that I’m a cyclist myself, I think about it all the time. If I take my bike, where will I leave it when I get to my destination? But as time has gone on, I think about it less and less – there is always somewhere to leave my bike. I am one of the few who locks mine, but I can’t help my upbringing.
Eyes open, folks. Beware of randomly parked, clusters of bikes!