Posts Tagged ‘bicycles’

Pulsations (08.04.12)

Saturday, August 4th, 2012

Here are the latest Pulsations, links to fresh stories and visuals about Japan, shout-outs to fellow bloggers, and highly clickable stuff that we think you might enjoy.

In no particular order, they are . . .

Reconditioned Bicycles: The Two-Wheeled Wonders & Where To Find Them (from Tokyo Cheapo): Fixie, schmixie, we’ll take a refurbished mama-chari to go, please.

 A Day in Tokyo (from Pechakucha.org): Sometimes it’s good to see the city you live in with fresh eyes.

Dynamite and Godzilla’s eggs: peak summer is upon us (from Tokyo Food File): Two from the pantheon of super melons.

Japan’s OTHER Languages (from Tofugu): Did you know there were eight languages unique to Japan? Neither did we.

Empty Ramen Bowl Tour (from Vimeo): Enough said. But hang on, if you like emptying ramen bowls, we might have a job for you . . . 

Visual pulse:

This week the classic “Tokyo Story” jumped up two spots to the top of Sight & Sound’s director’s poll. If you need a primer in the brilliance of director Yasujiro Ozo, here’s a quickie.

 

Electric bikes highly charged and geared for commuting

Tuesday, April 26th, 2011

Supercharged: Sanyo's SPL series of electric bike can take you 55 km in eco-mode

Sales of electric bicycles, which have been enjoying steady growth over the past 10 years, have been given a boost by a new cycling boom. Bicycle sales in general soared after the March 11 quake as stranded commuters sought alternative means of transport. The trend has continued as many office workers, wary of being stuck out in central Tokyo again due to cancelled trains, have taken up cycling. Getting back home completely under your own steam might be a bit much if you live way out in the suburbs, so that’s why electric bikes, which give a boost to the rider’s own pedal power, are a great option for longer distances.

According to GfK marketing, sales of electric bicycles from March 14-20 were up almost three times compared to figures taken between Jan. 2-10. Since the post-quake peak, sales have dropped, but have continued to be higher than average. While some of this can be put down to the start of the new academic year, we’re thinking that other new customers are using the bikes to help them cover long distances.

The motor on electric bicycles is powered by onboard batteries and the length of time batteries will hold a charge has increased over the past few years, making the machines increasingly attractive. Sanyo’s Eneloop Bike, released on the market last year, not only charges via the mains, but also recharges while riding on flat roads and down hills, making it one of the most energy efficient models on the market.

The Eneloop Bike costs ¥157,290 and the average cost of an electric bike in Japan is ¥85,000, but the high price tags have not put consumers off. Panasonic (who now own Sanyo), holds a 40 percent market share of the market and sells around 380,000 electric bicycles each year. Before the quake, in February, their sales figures increased 10 percent, while on the month of the quake (March) sales increased 30 percent, according to the New York Times. Granted, charging your bike isn’t really in the setsuden spirit of things, but at least it’s a step toward cleaner commuting.

If you’re thinking of investing in an electric bicycle, how about donating your old model to the Bikes For Japan project, a charity which is repairing and shipping second hand bicycles to victims of the quake?

 

GPS navigation for cyclists gathers speed

Wednesday, July 28th, 2010

Tokyo Zoo Project allows you to take an animal shaped bike tour of the city

Tokyo Zoo Project allows you to take an animal shaped bike tour of the city

One of the best ways to get around Tokyo is by bike: the city’s cyclists are able to whizz down alleys too narrow for most traffic, sail the opposite way down a one-way street and bypass traffic jams by hopping up onto the sidewalk when necessary. Cycling around the city this way you won’t get much hassle from local policemen, who tend to turn a blind eye to such minor traffic infractions, but you might find yourself stymied by the maze-like nature of Tokyo’s streets.

These days there are a number of GPS devices available for the adventurous cyclist who wants to explore the city streets, but with so many phones possessing GPS capability is it worth investing in such a device? Surprisingly, while car-compatible GPS apps for cell phones proliferate, there’s not much available for cyclists yet. As mentioned earlier, bicycles have more access to the narrower byways of Tokyo’s streets, so using a pedestrian app like AU’s Easy Navi Walk is preferable to a system designed for motorist that might have you cycling down polluted traffic clogged streets.

In April this year DoCoMo updated their car navigation system, iMapFan, to include a mode aimed at cyclists to allow users to identify bike friendly routes. At ¥315 a month, DoCoMo’s system has the edge over devices such as Sony’s NV-U35, which costs nearly ¥30,000. The problem though is that, unlike custom-made devices, no accompanying handlebar mount for cell phones has come out on the market, meaning that cyclists still have to keep stopping to consult their maps. Also, the NV-U35 is waterproof, so unless you’re buying a brand new waterproof phone you might find a cell phone impossible to use in wet weather.

To promote NV-U35 (which was released on the market earlier this year), Sony has come up with a fun summer campaign that allows cyclists to discover the backstreets of Tokyo. Pedal pushers can follow a series of themed routes that describe the shape of an animal through the city streets by using the gadget. Each route has a cute name to suit its species, for example, “The Giraffe Who Came To Compare His Height With Sky Tree Tower.” That route takes you past the site of the tower (which is currently under construction but still a pretty impressive height of nearly 400 meters) and includes recommended coffee shops and scenic spots to stop off at along the way.

Currently there are three routes available on the Tokyo Zoo Project website, but by August that will have grown to 10 to create a zoo of animal routes that spread out across the city. The general public are also invited to submit their own ideas for routes via Twitter (@tokyozoopj) making the campaign interactive.

If bicycle navigation systems take off, local policemen are going to spend less time giving out directions and more time making sure people are observing the rules of the road, making the advent of GPS both a good and bad thing for cyclists.

Pedal power in Marunouchi

Thursday, October 1st, 2009

To rent a bicycle you touch your IC card to the pad

To rent, touch your IC card to the pad

The bikes are pretty funky looking

"Tabi chari" for rent

A trial scheme to provide unsupervised bicycle rental around the Marunouchi district in Chiyoda-ku was launched today. The Community Cycle project which runs until Nov. 30  is a collaboration between Japan’s Environment Ministry and JTB travel agency and is aimed at getting more cars off the roads.

We got a glimpse of the very funky-looking tabi chari (travel bikes) this weekend when we were pottering around the area. While looking very hip, our one criticism is that the wheels seemed rather small; as the area covered by the scheme itself is rather minuscule, perhaps they were hoping that people would get tired out before they pedaled away with the merchandise.

The project cleverly makes use of IC cards, which are already a popular means on payment for transport around Tokyo. Credit is put onto cards such as Suica or PASMO at machines found in train stations and payment is made by touching the card to a device that deducts payment for your train journey or bike rental as the case may be. The initial initial registration costs ¥1,000, and rentals within 30 minutes are free.

Similar community bicycle projects have been very successful in Europe; Japan’s low crime rate almost guarantees success, so we’re looking forward to seeing more of these bike stands around the city in the future.

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