Hello people!

Dec 17, 2011
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kanazawa
#1
Hello!

This is Marios, a ryuugakusei (foreign student) from Greece. I recently moved to Tokyo and I'll be here for the next three months.

Just last weekend I bought a Giant Defy 3 to commute back and forth to my work place and, since this is the first time I buy a road bike, I am thrilled. Changing from a cheap crossbike-like bicycle to this, the difference is night and day.

However, I'm still not 100% confident riding in the streets of Tokyo. Currently I'm reading this to get a feel of how a cyclist should behave on the road. What are the rules for bicycles here in Japan? Are they significantly different than those found on the linked handbook? Anything that I should REALLY pay attention to?

Secondly, any pointers for cycling routes/roads in Tokyo? Anything from 30km to 50km would be great!

And.. that's about it! Cheers!
 

GSAstuto

Maximum Pace
Oct 11, 2009
945
242
103
tokyo
www.roadfixie.com
#2
Yassou!

1) The traffic rules here have changed recently to position bikes more as common vehicles. So - following the same rules as a car is generally safe - EXCEPT:
- Bikes, as light vehicles, can go the 'wrong way' on a 1 way street.
- Bikes cannot make Right Hand turn through an intersection - you need to use crossing, then wait for the opposite light to change.
- Where marked, you CAN (and obliged) to ride on the sidewalk. But contradictorily - this is not allowed in some areas.
- You need front light, rear reflector and a bell.

You will encounter many endless debate and discussion with everyone regarding the idiocy of Japanese road laws (presumed or otherwise) and even the police, themselves have little grasp of what is the 'law' or not.

2) The guide you link is pretty good - but you'll need to swap Right for Left - Japan drives on the 'other side' of the road. Not Continental or US style.

3) Keep your head up and your wheels down and you should be fine!

4) Look out for the Half Fast rides posted here for easy, fun, city rides - or occasionally there are more novice oriented rides loosely organized by TCC folks.
 
Dec 17, 2011
267
8
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kanazawa
#3
Yassou, too! :greets:
I am always surprised when people know greek greeting expressions!

Yassou!
- Bikes cannot make Right Hand turn through an intersection - you need to use crossing, then wait for the opposite light to change.
This.. :eek: ! This is the part that really surprised me. I must say, without being aware of such a rule, I've already broken it several times... :eek:uch: Hopefully, for single-lane streets it is still ok to make a right turn, right?

And, of course, I did reverse everything while I was reading the guide. Right to left, left to right. Got it.

Thanks for the reply! I'll also keep a look for the HFC events.
Cheers!
 

AlanW

Maximum Pace
Jan 30, 2007
1,214
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103
Tokyo
#4
Anything that I should REALLY pay attention to?
Taxis.
Scooters.
General unpredictability. Pedestrians, cyclists and drivers in Tokyo are really bad at looking around / behind / checking their mirrors before committing to a move. Give yourself extra space to cope with this.
Last-minute signalling to turn.
People riding bicycles on the wrong side of the road.

Do a quick search for "accident" on here and you'll see some of the things to watch for.
 
Oct 15, 2010
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#5
Another thing that might get you is that some people tend to walk and ride bikes like they are slalom skiing as opposed to the more efficient straight-line approach.
 

StuInTokyo

Maximum Pace
Dec 3, 2010
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#7
I may be in the minority here, but all in all I find Tokyo drivers quite good. I lived and rode my bicycle for 5 years in Vancouver Canada, and it was way more dangerous and the drivers were way more aggressive.

YMMV :D
 

joewein

Maximum Pace
Oct 25, 2011
2,434
879
133
Setagaya, Tokyo
joewein.net
#8
I also find most Tokyo drivers (except motorcyclists) fairly mild mannered. The rule of thumb that both sides will usually get assigned part of the fault in any collision unless your vehicle was stationary effectively breeds defensive drivers (compared to say in Germany, where fault and the resulting insurance premium hikes tend to be assigned more in black and white terms).

Here in Japan people leave more room for someone else breaking the rules and still avoiding a collision. They are much more prepared to let someone feed in from a side street into a big road.

My experiences with bus drivers have been good. A lot of people have been complaining about taxis, but the cabbies here are probably a lot better than in other countries and also better than many Japanese non-professional drivers. They sometimes make abrupt stops to drop off or pick up passengers, but so far I haven't felt particularly threatened.

I don't know what it is about motorcyclists, but many of them seem to have a death wish. When I had visitors from at home who were also motorcyclists, they were amazed at the risky driving here and more than once I heard comments from them about "kamikaze" riders.

Trucks make me uncomfortable too. They're bulky but often have share narrow roads and tend to go too fast, especially in the rain.

Drivers here don't particularly respect red lights and often push the limits. They also don't respect pedestrian crossings (zebra crossings) at all, except buses and some taxis.

I see a lot of cyclists and pedestrians that are texting friends on their mobiles while riding / crossing streets.
 

GSAstuto

Maximum Pace
Oct 11, 2009
945
242
103
tokyo
www.roadfixie.com
#10
Haha! Well, I survived almost 4mo in Greece / Macedonia. But, yes, it was nearly suicide! But the worst was the 'Road of Thorns' We took inland route from Patras up to Olympus and encountered roads of 50km or more that had many thorns such that - travelling more than 5km or so would result in at least 2 or 3 punctures. Even with 'Mr. Tuffy Strips' (remember them??) My tubes looked like a patchwork quilt. Finally gave up and got ride in a truck to the train station. Upon boarding the train, it promptly broke down for 7hrs. Gave up on that - convinced the conductor to let us offload in the middle of nowhere and rode on - at least the roads were less cluttered with thorns!

But - then we encountered wolves! (No kidding!) Aside from that - the cycling I did in Greece and Macedonia was some of the best and the worst you could imagine!

My Greek is limited to common phrases and various curses. The curses worked the best - amazing - if you yell ' Ella Malaka!!' you will get attention! And all the other things to learn to say! HAHA! Ahhh, such stories!

So - I hope you can get some nice travelling in Japan! Compared to Greece it is a Paradise with bad coffee and no Retsina. Other than that - you'll love it.

You know, I'm greek and I wouldn't even CONSIDER riding a bicycle in Athens (or any other major greek city for that matter)! It'd be suicide!
 

joewein

Maximum Pace
Oct 25, 2011
2,434
879
133
Setagaya, Tokyo
joewein.net
#11
So - I hope you can get some nice travelling in Japan! Compared to Greece it is a Paradise with bad coffee and no Retsina. Other than that - you'll love it.
I've encountered bad coffee here in JP, but usually it's pretty decent, unless you include the stuff sold in cans from vending machines (I tend to avoid that unless I'm really, really desperate).
 
Dec 17, 2011
267
8
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kanazawa
#12
So - I hope you can get some nice travelling in Japan! Compared to Greece it is a Paradise with bad coffee and no Retsina. Other than that - you'll love it.
Thanks mate, my time in Japan so far has been fairly good indeed! As for the coffee.. vending machine coffee is an unholy abomination..