Using a Bicycle in Tokyo

Bicycling is a common mode of transportation in Japan. It’s a great way to get to school, to work, and to the train station. A bicycle is also a fine way to exercise and stay fit, and it helps reduce global warming because it emits no fossil fuels. A bike requires less energy to produce: unlike a car, it doesn’t need a lot of metal; it can use smaller roads to travel on; and it takes up less space for parking. Most of all, it is convenient and inexpensive when you need a quick ride to get around in one of the most expensive and populated cities in the world, Tokyo.

There are many things to discover in Tokyo aside from the usual tourist attractions. Some local neighborhoods hold the best treasures to be found in such a bustling yet quaint metropolis as Tokyo, and they’re right within a few kilometers of where you’re staying. There are many other unnoticed places only the locals know of, such as restaurants, shops, temples, and parks hiding in the backstreets that are just a short bicycle ride away.

Bikes in Shinjuku. | Andrea Schaffer

Before hopping on a bike and searching for places off the beaten path, here are a few things to not to do on a bicycle in Japan:

Don’t ignore traffic signals – be aware of the traffic signs. Like anywhere around the world, red means stop and green means go. Don’t let all the beautiful sights distracts your attention to the traffic signs.

Don’t ride in prohibited areas – stay off footpaths, pedestrian roads, and private property. Bicycles are considered small vehicles and by law must be ridden on the road.

Ride your bike on the correct side of the road  – always keep in mind  the flow of traffic in Japan is opposite of the U.S. where it is right-hand traffic (RHT). In Japan, the rule of the road is left-hand traffic (LHT), so when moving forward, stay to the left side of the road.

Avoid obstructing pedestrians – always remember to yield to pedestrians and give them the right of way. Remember to maintain a safe and slow speed when sharing the road with pedestrians.

Joyride with pets in Japan. | m-louis

Stop, Look and Listen – Before crossing through an active railroad crossing, make sure there are no lights flashing and the guard rails are up.

Observe intersection safety – look at both directions of traffic before crossing, and check to see who has the right of way.

Do not obstruct an intersection – a right turn is equivalent to a left turn in Japan.

Also remember to let the drivers behind know if you’re making a turn by using hand signals.

Rustic Japan scene. | Iñaki Pérez de Albéniz


You can also check local cycling rules and regulations in Japan to familiarize yourself with the ins and outs of cycling. Enjoy and have a safe ride!