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Riding bicycles in Tokyo

Elsie is from North Europe, where bicycles are popular as a common transportation means, and has been riding a bicycle to work in Japan. During a lunch break, her colleague Kwasi comes to her and asks about bike commuting in Japan.

Kwasi

Hi Elsie, I am thinking about commuting on a bicycle like you. I just bought my new bike the other day.
Elsie
That’s great! Bicycles are an eco-friendly mode of transportation and help you keep in shape too.

Kwasi

I like the idea of saving transportation costs and getting some exercise at the same time by commuting on a bike. I just wanted to ask you some advice to get the best from the bicycle commuting.

Elsie

Well, your safety is more important than anything else. I would recommend leaving home earlier in the morning so that you don’t have to rush to work. And follow the traffic rules, of course. Bicycles are considered a type of vehicle by law, so you have to ride on the left side of the street.

Kwasi

My commuting route between home and work includes some busy streets, and I am a bit worried about the traffic.

Elsie

I try to wear clothes in light colors when I ride a bike. Make sure to turn and keep the light on after dark. You should attach a reflector and a taillight to your bike as well.

Kwasi

I understand the importance of making yourself stand out in the dark.

Elsie

Remember that you always need to give right of way to pedestrians when riding on a sidewalk that allows for bicycle traffic.

Kwasi

But I sometime see bicycle riders dashing on the sidewalk, or ringing bells loud to make pedestrians step aside from their way.

Elsie

Yes, bad traffic manners among bicycle riders have been a major issue these days. Remember also that it is prohibited to ride a bike while listening to music or talking on a cellphone. Doing so prevents you from hearing a car approaching or honking horns, or steps and voices of people walking nearby. It is very dangerous.

Kwasi

That’s very true. I will be careful.

Elsie

Another tip—take public transportation instead when it is raining or you are not feeling good. Staying flexible is a key to enjoying and continuing a bike commuting.

Kwasi

Right. Thank you so much for your advice.

Kwasi also wants to know how to enjoy a bike ride on weekends.

Kwasi
I think I should enjoy my new bike not just for commuting but for my weekends.

Elsie

Sure. Major public parks often have cycling courses available.
Kwasi
It would be nice to ride a bike in the nature of a park.

Elsie

Yes, it is so refreshing especially about this time of the year when new green leaves are coming out and air is crisp.

Kwasi

I want to take my girlfriend with me, but she doesn’t own a bike, unfortunately.
Elsie
You can rent a bike at some parks. My favorite cycling courses are Palace Cycling Course near the Imperial Palace, one in Komazawa Olympic Park, and one in Wakasu Kaihin Park. Take your girlfriend and enjoy the bike ride together there!

Kwasi

Thanks for the good information. I am looking forward to taking her out for some cycling on a weekend soon!