Bicycle advocacy in Tokyo (May 2012)

Apr 3, 2012
401
98
48
Tama Center <-> Otemachi
#1
So the firm I work for is moving to a new building in the Tokyo area and I have the opportunity to influence how cyclists will be treated. On the agenda is secure bicycle lock up and amenities to freshen up before entering the office. I am expecting resistance as only a small percentage of the employees commute by bicycle now, insurance issues, and servicing cyclists is an optional expense. There are difficult to quantify benefits such as better health and bicycle make fine alternatives to public transport.

So questions for the group:
  • Is there a cycle to work advocacy group in Tokyo?
  • Do you work in an office with good amenities for cyclists? Can I pick your brain?
  • Any supporting literature that would be relevent for bicyclists in Tokyo?
  • Any vendors that supply road, cross, and mountain bicycle friendly racks in Japan? The racks I observe in the Tokyo area are not very good and can potentially damage the spokes.
 

GSAstuto

Maximum Pace
Oct 11, 2009
945
242
103
tokyo
www.roadfixie.com
#2
Some nice ideas here:

http://www.parkabike.com/

Cycle Hoop is pretty cool - as you can simply retro-fit just about any pole to be more bike friendly ..

http://www.cyclehoop.com/

Agreed about current Tokyo Bike Parking racks - they are aweful! And good luck if one of them takes your money and doesn't give back your bike! This happened to me - it took more than 2hrs for any service person to arrive and he started to shake my bike scratching up my carbon wheels! Arrghhhh!!!!!! I'll never use one of these POS again.
 

Alei

Cruising
Apr 6, 2012
34
0
16
Tokyo
#3
I work in an office building that has one of these:
http://www.bike-run.jp/

I would love for these facilities to be installed in every big office building at more reasonable prices.
Bike lockers and showers and changing rooms for those in the Marunouchi area.

For me, the price isn't worth it.
Between 15,000-17,000yen per month for bike storage plus shower/change room fee on top of that.
It's cheaper to ride the train that the company pays for (commute allowance).
But the idea is great. Would be nice if companies encouraged more cyclists and paid for these facilities.
 

theBlob

Bokeh master
Sep 28, 2011
2,864
1,450
129
...
#4
I commute and park in a metal rack at my office. I had to rent it for 11000yen per year. Which I was happy to do so I can leave my locks attaches to it. I also lined the rack part with cardboard to protect my front wheel.

I use a wet towel in my floors toilet block and keep my office clothes in a draw. I bring my clothes when I ride my scooter I also take my dirties home then.

I would say the thing you have to think of most is hanging space for suits that the cyclists leave and somewhere to hang cycling kits.

I am a manager so my one closet doesn't get much comment but if I was lower on the food chain things might not be as easy for me.

Best of luck
 

jdd

Maximum Pace
Hardest Crash
Jul 26, 2008
2,514
639
133
Kanazawa
#5
...the thing you have to think of most is hanging space for suits ...
Sometimes what gets discussed here seems so similar to what I do, and other times it seems that some of you folks live in an entirely different world. And I'm sorry to hear about your trials and I do try to sympathize with what you have to deal with.

((Sorry to make anyone jealous, but)) Ugh, suits. Don't even have one, tho I do pop on a sport coat now and then when the wx's right. I add a tie about twice a year.
 
Sep 2, 2009
5
0
0
#6
I am able to keep my bike safely at work, but there are no official places for me to put it. Also, the facilities to change clothes are woeful.

Would love it to be better.
 

GSAstuto

Maximum Pace
Oct 11, 2009
945
242
103
tokyo
www.roadfixie.com
#7
Typical Japanese corp environment is very bike negative. Even though the last company I was a partner in OWNED one of Japan's largest 'Fitness Chains' - I could not get an employee discount membership! And when I raised the point many times in board meetings to discuss how to increase biz by offering more Cycle Commuter 'packages' - I was laughed out of the room. Why? Cause the 'old boys network' is STILL Golf, Whiskey, Cigs and Hostesses. They'll think seriously about Cycling as a viable recreation, fitness and lifestyle practice when they've drunk and smoked themselves into the grave - and not a moment less. I'm not too positive about any changes here anytime soon.

Oh yeah - <that> 'Fitness Company' went bankrupt, too! Suckers! Along with at least half dozen of their 'Golf Zones' and massive resort undertakings.
 

FarEast

Maximum Pace
May 25, 2009
5,528
538
193
Yokohama
#8
So the firm I work for is moving to a new building in the Tokyo area and I have the opportunity to influence how cyclists will be treated. On the agenda is secure bicycle lock up and amenities to freshen up before entering the office. I am expecting resistance as only a small percentage of the employees commute by bicycle now, insurance issues, and servicing cyclists is an optional expense. There are difficult to quantify benefits such as better health and bicycle make fine alternatives to public transport.

So questions for the group:
  • Is there a cycle to work advocacy group in Tokyo?
  • Do you work in an office with good amenities for cyclists? Can I pick your brain?
  • Any supporting literature that would be relevent for bicyclists in Tokyo?
  • Any vendors that supply road, cross, and mountain bicycle friendly racks in Japan? The racks I observe in the Tokyo area are not very good and can potentially damage the spokes.
erm I think this actually goes against your opinion Tim. I think its great that your company is serious about supportingh commuters who chose the bicycle to get to work.

In regard to racks there are many options out there and its hard to advise anything without really know what kind of space is available. But most commuters normally ride what we call beaters or our winter bikes when commuting in to the office and these normally included training wheels that we don't mind getting beaten up a little.

Really the things you need for a cyclists are the following:

  • Lockers located with or close to the bikes so that gear can be stored without having to go through working space.
  • Shower and changing facility again located near bike park so that you do not need to through working space.
  • Room to hang wet weather gear for those that ride in wet weather - this normally is the same room the bikes are stored.
  • Basic communal tools, Track pump, wrench set puncture repair kit
  • One other thing you might want to suggest is that the area that the bikes are parked is a locked room - riders are issued a key, this adds an extra level of security and means that if your cycle is stolen from the room its covered under the buildings insurance.

One thing I strongly suggest you do is to wwork out how much it would cost to have the facility installed in the new office space. Then also how much your company would charge. Having a clear well laid out plan and cost is the key here to getting it setup - you may even want to suggest offering the service to other companies in the building - this would help pay for the faciliites upkeep and potential enable you to purchase things like a washing machine/drier for the room and such.

Some of the companies I know that have secure rooms have custom wall hooks that you hang the bike by from its front or rear wheel is perfectly safe for the bike and if the hook is covered in rubber will not damage the rims.

From what I know there is no real advocacy - you might want to talk to the poeple at the Japan Cycling Federation or the Japan Cycle information centre in Harajuku/Aoyama?
 
May 22, 2007
3,608
1,440
143
Kawasaki
halffastcycling.com
#9
I was only the second bike commuter at my workplace. I've built a big Hondalex bike shed, although the racks are the usual rubbish I'm afraid. Now we have maybe 15 staff commuting regularly by bike. The bike shed is overflowing, and I need to make another.

I also maintain a fleet of 11 'city bikes' (mamachari with flat bars) for staff to use to go to the shops at lunchtime or pedal themselves to nearby meetings. The office pays for parts, and I do the servicing when I have time. The fleet has been in operation for about 3 years and is so popular that sometimes it's impossible to find a bike.

We already had showers available. I also manage the office gymnasium - although you wouldn't think so to look at me!
 

FarEast

Maximum Pace
May 25, 2009
5,528
538
193
Yokohama
#10
Otherthings I forgot to mention:

Try and work directly with manufacturers of the equipment you are interested in - explain to them what you are trying to do, these people are very enthusiastic about what they do so they will go out of thier way to help you and your company and normally offer much better rates than retailers.
 
Sep 2, 2009
5
0
0
#11
I was only the second bike commuter at my workplace. I've built a big Hondalex bike shed, although the racks are the usual rubbish I'm afraid. Now we have maybe 15 staff commuting regularly by bike. The bike shed is overflowing, and I need to make another.

I also maintain a fleet of 11 'city bikes' (mamachari with flat bars) for staff to use to go to the shops at lunchtime or pedal themselves to nearby meetings. The office pays for parts, and I do the servicing when I have time. The fleet has been in operation for about 3 years and is so popular that sometimes it's impossible to find a bike.

We already had showers available. I also manage the office gymnasium - although you wouldn't think so to look at me!
That sounds great!
 
Apr 3, 2012
401
98
48
Tama Center <-> Otemachi
#12
Everyone:

Thanks for the links and advice. Maybe a bit more background:

I've been commuting by bicycle for the past 4 years. I haven't in the past few months since I'm still waiting for a replacement ride after an incident with a taxi. I've ridden in all weather, except in typhoons. So I'd like to consider myself experienced (demented) commuter.

In the firm, about ten others regularly commute by bicycle. Some of them stash the bicycle on the street. Some of us use the building parking facilities, really more suited for mama-charis. To use the spoke bending racks, we pay 100 yen every 6 hours, first 4 hours free. On my $dayjob hamster wheel, I end up paying 200 yen consistently. Not too bad, but that's 4 pints every month I'm missing out on. I've found a spot where I could get away not using the racks and usually get in early enough to snag those few spots.

There are others in the building I observe who are commuting, but they don't work in the same firm and they are not moving with us. The office building is attached to retail stores and the parking facility has a steady stream of visitors coming and going. The visitors I observed knock down other bicycles as they enter and leave. Bicycles are just a utility vehicle for the majority.

Several of my colleagues bicycles have been stolen when they were left overnight. It's really not that secure and thieves seem to know that nice bicycles can be found here.

The firm currently provides showers, lockers, and a dry room to hang your kit. Closets in the office are available for those of us that need to occasionally hop into a suit and tie. Currently access to these areas involve going through the office space. It's awkward in the summer getting into an elevator in sweaty kit with other suits.

In the current building, we couldn't get any changes done through HR or corporate services. Most likely because one of the long term options was to leave the building and they did not want to spend any money getting something modified.

Fortunately, the new building is still under constructions so still room to maneuver. The people planning the space have agreed to meet with us cyclists. And I can point out that other metro centers provide facilities and Tokyo should not be left behind.

So the http://www.bike-run.jp is interesting. We actually have a largish number of people who run during the lunch hour. If something similar could be brought house, or firm sponsored, it would make a for a good solution, and essentially out sourced. Worst case, I hate the train enough that I may pay for this, even if it is a few buildings away.

Noted about lockers and showers being close to where the cyclists are. Also noted about communal tools, but this would only work if we could secure a dedicated space for the firm employees.

And finally the parkabike.com has some ideal racks, is there a distributer in Japan? But knowing how tied in things are for big projects, there might not be much choice in who the manufacturer will be.

If any other ideas comes up, please let me know. I'll let the board know of meeting outcome.
 

FarEast

Maximum Pace
May 25, 2009
5,528
538
193
Yokohama
#13
Again this is where you can get creative and bring ParkaBike on board and involved in the process. This is obviously something they do very well and even i they do not have a distributor or contact in Japan Im sure they would jump at the chance to work on a project in Japan.
 

Alan

Cruising
Apr 2, 2008
23
0
11
Nishihara
#14
Landlords are much more aware of the interest in bike parking/commuting since the earthquake. We recently looked for new office space. One potential landlord is building in very nice bike parking in a new building and was happy to include a certain number of spaces with our basic rent. A second (older building) hemmed and hawed but when told it was a dealbreaker came up with some space. Right now is "bike to work week" in the US so there are some helpful suggestions and materials at: http://www.bikeleague.org/programs/bikemonth/

We may have a belated bike to work coffee near Ark Hills on the 25th. If you are close enough to come let me know.
 

dgl2

Maximum Pace
Nov 3, 2007
284
48
48
Tokyo - Minato-ku
#17
1. This year I am not working in central Tokyo, but have a bunch of meetings in town and am trying to ride my bike in from Setagaya for these whenever possible. I've found a few places where I can get decent bike parking and do not need to leave my bike on the street -- individual office buildings, and complexes like Roppongi Hills, Ebisu Garden Place, Midtown, Omotesando Hills. One of my clients asked me to lunch on Monday at International House in Roppongi and actually humored me by checking ahead about bike parking, having heard me talk about this now and seen me arrive by bike at their small office building a few times. ... But as the weather warms up this is getting more difficult to implement (for the time being requiring me to just make the inbound ride at a leisurely pace), since I don't have a shower at the destinations. At least the arrival of "cool biz" will give some more flexibility as to socially acceptable business clothing.

2. The bike-run prices are outrageous. This is not the solution.

3. There is another advocacy "study group" I am aware of:

http://cyclists.jp/

Kobayashi-san, the organizer, would probably know about organizations, and might have suggestions or welcome anyone who wants to help.

(Japanese language)

kobayashi@cyclists.jp

4. I agree that there has been some improvement in attitudes toward the idea of bicycle commuting since the earthquake, but also Tim is right that so long as top management laughs at the idea and hops in the back of the car to be driven off to the hostess bar, we are not likely to see improvement. In a place like Washington, DC or Portland, where the boss at the office is very likely to be a 7-day-a-week cyclist, you don't have the problem of landlords or office admins ignoring the needs of cyclists.

So my impression is that the places that seem best equipped for cyclist commuters are office complexes with lots of foreigners or that want to attract foreign tenants (Roppongi Hills, Ebisu Garden Place, etc.), since those companies are more likely to have noisy cyclist commuters at senior levels, who will veto office leases based on this issue.

Shin Marunouchi Bldg., where I worked 2007-2011 had limited but nice bike parking, and I could rent my own space at street level, protected by roof/wall/door and with anti-theft camera pointed directly at the bike, for 5000 yen a month. Not cheap, but less than 1/3 the cost of the bike-run place in the basement ... and I had my own little piece of Marunouchi. Also, the building had a gym with shower on a "pay as you go" basis -- so when a change of clothes and towel off would not do it, I could always grab a shower. ... but they had a waiting list for reserved spaces, and this is the exception, not the rule. I heard that Mitsubishi Jisho had planned the reserved bike parking for use by staff at the restaurants in the building, some of whom needed to arrive before or leave after trains stopped running, plus the shop and company bicycles to be used for deliveries. In fact, five years on, the reserved spaces are mostly taken by commuters.
 

GSAstuto

Maximum Pace
Oct 11, 2009
945
242
103
tokyo
www.roadfixie.com
#18
What I would love to see are the coin park auto lots also including some kind of bicycle rack. They generally have enough extra space to put something like this in, and if the rack was sufficiently 'kind' to the bike, I'd pay the 100y to put my bike there. At least they have attendants - or can summon quickly.

Hah, I used to love showing up for 'power lunches' at Int'l House riding my fixed gear, suit trouser leg rolled up (and forgotten many times). It actually says alot when you are steadily becoming fitter, faster, stronger and healthier while your co-staff , clients or competitors are slowly blobbing out, sucking on cigs they know are killing them and failing their nat'l health checks year after year.

BTW - check out IKI-BA in Harajuku. A great 'cycling friendly' Cafe / Space / VISIONARY group. You'll find many of the elite planners there.

Not to be understated is the community SENTO. Though they are unfortunately being demolished in various neighborhoods, but they are still there and a good alternative to expensive gym, etc.

I think the best thing any worker in Tokyo can do is just DO IT. And form small anchor group inside your company. 3 nails 'standing up' are alot harder to pound down than 1.
 

Jayves

Speeding Up
Nov 20, 2009
115
3
38
Yokohama
jayves-rando.blogspot.jp
#19
It is a good start but if you are an iPhone user, there is a free application that shows you bicycle 'official' parking space in Tokyo. Not sure if it is useful for regular commuters but for folks who sometimes wander to the urban jungle can at least find a place to park. At some places, free for the first two hours. Coverage is kind of disappoint. However, there is a feature where you can contribute information on new/unregistered parking space.


http://itunes.apple.com/jp/app/go-jin-suo-zhu-lun-changmappu/id492020762?l=en&mt=8