There’s often a hidden agenda in my blog posts…sometimes not so hidden. For today, the agenda is based on a thread that runs throughout almost everything I write about Tokyo: I want more cities (especially in the United States, my home country) to have better public transportation, better options for pedestrians, and better bike infrastructure. I’ve explicitly written about Tokyo’s pedestrian culture and train network, but I’ve shied away from writing about bicycles in part because I rarely ride one in Tokyo (partly because public transit is so extensive and convenient).
But bicycles in Tokyo are not separate from public transit; in fact, bicycles are often the solution to the “last mile” problem – how to move people to and from a transit hub (e.g. a train station) and their final destination (e.g. their home). While Tokyo’s extensive train network serves virtually everyone in the city, there are plenty of people whose homes are a 10-15 minute walk from the station; this distance can be covered much more quickly by bike. (Proximity to a train station can result in higher rent).
I. What do people do with their bikes once they reach the station?
Let’s take one example at random: Saginomiya Station 鷺ノ宮駅, which is 8 kilometers northwest of Shinjuku Station and has a daily ridership of about 30,000 riders. If even a fraction of commuters reach the station by bicycle, this would mean hundreds of bicycles in need of a home during the day. To avoid a tangle of bikes near the station, Nakano ward designates the area around the station as a「自転車放置規制区域」(No-Parking / Restricted Parking Areas). This is probably adopted by other wards in Tokyo.
Map of Saginomiya Station restricted parking area:
List of various bike parking facilities near Saginomiya Station (total of 1211 spaces):
- Saginomiya 鷺ノ宮 (160 spaces) (map)
- Saginomiya south 鷺ノ宮南 (159 spaces) (map)
- Saginomiya south bike parking 鷺宮南自転車駐車場 (50 spaces) (map)
- Saginomiya north bike parking 鷺宮北自転車駐車場 (248 spaces) (map)
- Saginomiya ekimae 3 bike parking 鷺ノ宮駅前第３駐輪場 (134 spaces) (map)
- Saginomiya ekimae 4 bike parking 鷺ノ宮駅前第４駐輪場 (60 spaces) (map)
- Saginomiya east bike parking 鷺宮東自転車駐車場 (400 spaces) (map)
A quick Google Streetview search of these parking facilities indicates that they are all well used. (It is interesting to note there are just 1200 spots for 30,000 daily train riders, but this is a topic to explore in a separate post).
II. Does this mean there is absolutely no bike parking anywhere near a train station?
Not really. My understanding is that short-term parking is permitted in shopping streets for the use of customers. Here’s an example of parked bikes in front of a 7-11 near Saginomiya station (map).
III. What does formal bicycle parking look like?
There are many variations of formal bicycle parking in Tokyo, at least two of which are seen around Saginomiya Station. The types shown below are typical in the Tokyo area, though some are more common than others.
(1) Above-ground, uncovered bike parking
Saginomiya Station bike parking 鷺ノ宮
And this open-air lot near Toritsukasei Station 都立家政駅 (Nakano Kuritsu Toritsu Kaseikita Bike Locker 中野区立都立家政北自転車駐車場) (map)
(2) Above-ground, covered bike parking
Saginomiya east bike parking 鷺宮東自転車駐車場
In the above lot, you can see an example of より多くの自転車を駐輪できる (Upper-stage rack), which are typical in many bike parking lots.
(3) Above-ground, multi-story covered bike parking
Some covered bike parking takes the form of multi-story structures, similar to automobile parking garages. Here is an example from Koto-ku: Nishi-Oshima-eki-jitensha Bike Locker 西大島駅自転車駐輪場 (map)
Or this substantial two-story bike parking facility near Takenotsuka Station 竹ノ塚駅 in Adachi-ku: Takenotsuka Bike Parking 竹ノ塚駐輪場 (map)
(One term I’ve seen to describe these types of structures is 立体自転車駐輪場 Bicycle parking lot structure.)
(4) Underground bike parking (traditional)
Because space is often a problem in Tokyo, many bike parking facilities have gone underground, such as Numabukuro Underground Bicycle Parking Lot 沼袋地下自転車駐車場 (map), built under a building near Numabukuro Station 沼袋駅. Fees: One day: 100; One month: 1600 yen; Three months: 4200 yen.
And this facility in front of Ota-ku City Hall in Kamata (map).
(5) Underground bike parking (modern)
Although traditional underground bike parking is probably more pervasive, newer, more technologically advanced forms of bike parking have emerged, such as this facility at the Fujisawa SST (Sustainable Smart Town) in Fujisawa, in the greater-greater Tokyo area.
- See: Cycle Tree サイクルツリー, which describes itself as 全自動の機械式駐輪場 (Fully automatic mechanical bicycle parking lot).
- See also: Japan’s crazy underground bike vaults (CNN)
(6) Surface parking – under bridges / elevated highways or train tracks
A common place to see bike parking is underneath bridges, highways, or elevated trains. This is an efficient use of space that is generally not particularly appealing for other uses.
Consider these two examples under a highway near Oimachi Station.
Example 1 (map):
Example 2 (map):
(7) Parking on top of former rivers
Another efficient use of space is to build bike parking on top of current or former rivers and streams.
Near Ayase Station, bicycle parking was built on top of the Old Sumida River 古隅田川.
(8) Parking at home
The overall bike infrastructure of Tokyo depends on one additional element: parking at home. Bike parking is often available at apartment complexes and danchi, though I may devote a separate post for this topic.
Bike parking as seen in the film, “The Projects”, aka Danchi 団地 (2016)
IV. Where can I find bike parking in Tokyo?
It shouldn’t be difficult to find bike parking lots near many train stations, but you can also check out these excellent resources to start:
- Tokyo 360: Bike Parking: directory of dozens of bicycle parking lots categorized by Tokyo’s wards
- Chu-rin: list of well over 4000 registered bike parking places in Tokyo
- 駐輪場 = bicycle parking (chūrinjō)
- 自転車置き場 = bicycle parking space
- 自転車駐車場 = bicycle parking lot
- Where can you park your bike in Tokyo? Churinjo 駐輪場 or Churin Kinshi 駐輪禁止
- Bicycle Parking (駐輪場 Churinjo) in Tokyo Part 1 – Visitor Parking
- Bicycle Parking (駐輪場 Churinjo) in Tokyo Part 2 – Regular Parking
- Where can I park my bike in Tokyo? (Quora)
- 駐輪場 Bike parking (Japanese Wikipedia)