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Thursday, November 28, 2013

Can Bikes, Cars & Pedestrians Share?


With all the hostility on US streets, peace talks - or at least the possibility thereof - and concrete action may be on the horizon.

Is peace possible between cyclists, drivers and pedestrians on the streets of New York? Sam Schwartz (aka Gridlock Sam at the Daily News), former NYC Traffic Commissioner and president and CEO of the traffic planning and engineering firm Sam Schwartz Engineering DPC, talks about the candidates' visions for fitting more cyclists onto crowded streets and his own proposal for promoting better cyclist behavior.

Here is an update and a bit from the Brian Lehrer show.


CycleKyoto Home Page


Tuesday, November 26, 2013

Best Cycling Cities in Japan 2013

Bike Path in Osaka日本自転車都市ベスト5

Here is CycleKyoto's subjective list on the best urban areas for cycling in Japan, 2013.

1. Osaka
2. Tokyo
3. Kyoto
4. Nara

To be honest, we have not cycled in Sapporo, Sendai, Kamakura or Fukuoka. Sapporo is too cold, Sendai we don't know. Kamakura we love and have walked much of it, but with a population of only 160,000 it is a bit too small for this survey (we made the cutoff at 300,000). Fukuoka is a great city and on the "must cycle soon" list.

The most "surprising" omission will be Nagoya. For those who follow Copenhagenize and its annual ranking of best cities worldwide for cycling, in 2013 Tokyo finished 10th and Nagoya tied for 11th with Munich and Montreal (the criteria the blog uses are listed below in italics).

Even a close reading of the criteria leaves us scratching our helmeted head. Tokyo, yes. In terms of cycling culture, facilities, gender split, modal share, safety, Tokyo - almost any Japanese city - would score well. But Nagoya? The home of Toyota, wide car-filled boulevards, and as suburban as any city in Japan with the most deeply entrenched automobile culture in the country? Please.

Osaka CastleFor good urban cycling, Osaka takes the Japanese crown. It is flat, relatively compact, has many bike lanes (most on wide wide sidewalks), and a deep cycling culture. From salarymen to grandmoms, students to hipsters, nearly everyone is on a bike. To Osakans, a bike is a tool, an extension of the body used to get from A to B.

Tokyo comes in a close second to Osaka because it is hillier, more spread out, and busier.

Kyoto is the perfect size, mainly flat until you hit the mountains that surround the city, home to more than 100,000 university students (out of a population 1.5 million), and has a long and enduring bike culture. The city's efforts at improving the infrastructure have been hit or miss, but dearth of bike lanes notwithstanding the city is still a great place to ride.

Nara is small and chill and a great place to get around on a bike, whether you are a tourist or a resident.

Hiroshima got in by the skin of its teeth. We have a soft spot for the city - the rivers, wide streets, trams, great vibe, fun nightlife - but not having cycled Fukuoka or Sendai, this ranking comes with an asterisk.

Here are the Copenhagenize criteria for ranking cities:

How is the city's (or region/country) advocacy NGO(s) regarded and what level of influence does it have?
Rated from no organised advocacy to strong advocacy with political influence.

Bicycle Culture:
Has the bicycle reestablished itself as transport among regular citizens or only sub-cultures?
Rated from no bicycles on the urban landscape/only sporty cyclists to mainstream acceptance of the bicycle.

Bicycle Facilities:
Are there readily accessible bike racks, ramps on stairs, space allocated on trains and buses and well-designed wayfinding, etc?
Rated from no bicycle facilities available to widespread and innovative facilities.

Bicycle Infrastructure:
How does the city's bicycle infrastructure rate?
Rated from no infrastructure/cyclists relegated to using car lanes to high level of safe, separated cycle tracks.

Cycling Osaka CastleBike Share Programme:
Does the city have a comprehensive and well-used bike-sharing programme?
Rated from no bike share programme to comprehensive, high-usage programme.

Gender Split
What percentage of the city's cyclists are male and female?
Rated from overwhelming male to an even gender split or more women than men cycling.

Modal Share For Bicycles:
What percentage of modal share is made up by cyclists?
Rated from under 1% to over 25%.

Modal Share Increase Since 2006:
What has the increase in modal share been since 2006 - the year that urban cycling started to kick off?
Rated from under 1% to 5%+.

Perception of Safety:
Is the perception of safety of the cyclists in the city, reflected in helmet-wearing rates, positive or are cyclists riding scared due to helmet promotion and scare campaigns?
Rated from mandatory helmet laws with constant promotion of helmets to low helmet-usage rate.

What is the political climate regarding urban cycling?
Rated from the bicycle being non-existent on a political level to active and passionate political involvement.

Social Acceptance:
How do drivers and the community at large regard urban cyclists?
Rated from no social acceptance to widespread social acceptance.

Urban Planning:
How much emphasis do the city's planners place on bicycle infrastructure - and are they well-informed about international best practice?
Rated from car-centric urban planners to planners who think bicycle - and pedestrian - first.

Traffic Calming:
What efforts have been made to lower speed limits - for example 30 km/h zones - and generally calm traffic in order to provide greater safety to pedestrians and cyclists?
Rated from none at all to extensive traffic-calming measures prioritising cyclists and pedestrians in the traffic hierarchy.


CycleKyoto Home Page


Sunday, November 24, 2013

World Cycling News 24 November 2013

tofu seller bike kyoto今週のサイクリング2013年11月24日

Is the NYT op-ed right? Killing cyclists is O.K.? SFGate

Lance Armstrong settles $3m bonuses lawsuit BBC

The five best things about winter riding London Cyclist

Choisir une destination
Québec | États-Unis | Canada | Amérique du Sud
Europe | Afrique | Asie | Destinations soleil Velo Quebec

London’s cycling culture is developing in a dangerous direction Guardian

La extraña gracia de los famosos sin bicicleta El Pais

旧UCI体制の崩壊とともに噴出する元会長ヴァルブルーゲンの横暴、マックエイドへと引き継がれた”負の遺産”の枢軸、圧力と脅しがねじ曲げた自転車レース界と決別の時は今しかない Cycling Time

Met chief Hogan-Howe admits: I wouldn’t cycle in London The Times of London

Outcry over cyclists killed in 'death trap' London Yahoo

Last Week's Cycling News

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Thursday, November 21, 2013



Here is a tongue firmly planted in cheek take on why "not" to cycle to work from Brendan Leonard.

9. It’s too dangerous.

Can you imagine being out there on a bicycle with all these crazy drivers flying past you, nothing to protect you except a plastic and styrofoam shell on your head? You could get killed. The absolute best thing is to stay in the protective cage of your car, because no one’s ever been killed when they’re inside an automobile. Driving is safe.

8. You have to wear a tie to work. Or a suit. Or a skirt.

Not only that, it’s important to wear your tie/suit/business casual attire from the moment you leave your house in the morning until the moment you get home. There is no conceivable way you could leave some clothes at your office, and change into them after you ride your bike to work, two or three days a week. Plus, your suit/tie combination is so dialed, you can’t just spread your tie collection out over two locations. Where the hell is my cornflower blue tie? I need to see if it looks good with these shoes. And like there’s some way to ride a bike in skirt or a dress?

7. You have to go to the gym after/before work.

For the rest of the article, click here.

Cycling to work in Kyoto - which is almost entirely free of bike lanes, is packed with cars, cyclists, and pedestrians - is great. Once you learn the dance, you will never go back.


CycleKyoto Home Page


Tuesday, November 19, 2013

Cycling From Kyoto Station to Tofukuji Temple

Tofukuji Temple自転車で京都駅~東寺~東福寺へ


A cold front has moved into Kyoto and western Japan. This makes cycling early in the morning and late a night a bit chilly.

However, midday is glorious.

For those who have just arrived, a great ride in Kyoto is from Kyoto Station to Toji Temple and then on to Tofukuji Temple.

Toji Temple is a short ride south of the mega-station building. From there it is about 15 minutes through industrial south Kyoto to some of the most beautiful fall colors you will ever see.

Ride South Kyoto ride.


toji-pagodaCycleKyoto Home Page

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Sunday, November 17, 2013

World Cycling News 17 November 2013

tofu seller bike kyoto今週のサイクリング2013年11月17日

Is It O.K. to Kill Cyclists? New York Times

Lance Armstrong: Life ban could be reduced, says Usada chief BBC

Base layers to keep you warm this winter London Cyclist

Corporation Véloroute des Baleines tient à souligner Le support majeur
de la MRC Manicouagan Velo Quebec

London cycling deaths – Guardian readers on their own near misses Guardian

El 'airbag' para la bicicleta El Pais

レッドブル ホーリーライド2013
所属チーム決まらぬサミュエル・サンチェス、将来を見越してドバイスカイチームへ移籍か?エウスカルテル・エウスカディは、エウスカディとしてコンチネンタルチームとして再起の可能性? Cycling Time

Boris is urged to act swiftly over deaths of cyclists The Times of London

Armstrong's urge to tell all is 'a little late' - USADA Yahoo

Last Week's Cycling News

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Thursday, November 14, 2013

Kyoto Sanga Soccer Update November 2013

kyoto purple sanga京都サンガ2013年11月

Sanga lost last weekend to second place Gamba, thus guaranteeing a place in the playoff zone - and not automatic promotion to J1.

Translated, that sentence means that Sanga cannot finish in first or second place, and thus will have to win a round of playoff games with the four teams that finish in 3rd to 6th place to go up to the top division.

There are two matches left in the regular season - against relatively weak Mito and Ibaraki - and nine points separate Sanga and Gamba. Ergo, we are back at the exact same place we were a year ago.

The final home game of the season is the 24th, which is the last game of the regular year. Kickoff is at 12:30.

Ticket Information (in Japanese)

Cycling for home games at Nishikyogoku is a flat and easy 20 minutes from central Kyoto and parking is free and readily available.

Up to 40% off Best Selling Bike Brands

View Cycling to Kyoto Nishi Kyogoku Stadium in a larger map

Asics running shoes, now up to 40% off!


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Wednesday, November 13, 2013

Two Bikes in Arashiyama

Arashiyama Bicycles京都嵐山にある自転車二台

On a chilly fall Sunday, we rode via Nishi Kyogoku - home to Kyoto Sanga, the city's soccer team - along the bike path to Arashiyama.

It was blustery and overcast but many were out.

The local farmers were busy in their fields; nearby college students were barbequing.

Not far from Matsuo Taisha, a little league baseball game was taking place. Parents huddled in small groups and cheered on the boys.

When we got closer to Arashiyama, much of the debris from the September storm could be seen. Branches, dirt, and trash were piled up in mounds along the banks of the river.

Once in the touristed areas of Arashiyama though, foot traffic was so thick that we turned back without crossing the Togetsukyo Bridge and heading into the main drag of the neighborhood that runs in front of Tenryuji Temple and a bit further up the famous bamboo grove.

This coming weekend will be even more congested as the leaves should be out in all their glory.


CycleKyoto Home Page


Tuesday, November 12, 2013

Winter Weather Hits Kyoto


Winter has arrived in Kyoto.

While actual snow fell in northern Honshu and Hokkaido, Kyoto has yet to experience that this year.

Still the city got hit by a cold front that drove temperatures down to 5 degrees (41 Fahrenheit) with highs only expected to hit 10 degrees (50 F) today.

That means early December weather and - after a warm October - a sudden burst of fall color.

Time to pull out the tights for the ride to Demachiyanagi on our commute.

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Monday, November 11, 2013

Japanese Service Kyoto Bike Shop


The experience was not uncommon, and in Japanese is called "omotenashi."

I went to Koseki, an upscale bike shop near Kitano Tenmangu Shrine.

The weather has turned cold and I was looking at leggings.

They were mostly priced in the 10,000 yen ($100) range, which was too much.

While peering around, a very pregnant clerk I knew came over to talk to me. She brought with her a cup of green tea for me.

She asked what I was looking for, I told her "less expensive leggings."

She said that they would be arriving in a week.

Then she asked if I was going to Cycle Mode, the major bike show in Japan. I was indeed.

Thereupon, two tickets were produced.

I bought nothing, thanked her, left with warm tea in my belly and two tickets in my hand.

"Thanks for coming, look forward to your next visit."

This is service, Japanese style.


Koseki Cycle

Just before you get to the geisha area Kamishichiken, not far from Kitano Tenmangu Shrine.

 075 463 3428

Closed Mondays


CycleKyoto Home Page


Sunday, November 10, 2013

World Cycling News 10 November 2013

tofu seller bike kyoto今週のサイクリング2013年11月10日

Start-Up Reinvents the Bicycle Wheel New York Times

Lance Armstrong: Doping in 1990s could not be stopped BBC

Stumbled across this whilst cycling London Cyclist

Sur La Route Verte Velo Quebec

Investment in cycling can increase bike journeys, study shows Guardian

Madrid eléctrica El Pais

レッドブル ホーリーライド2013
Red Bull Holy Ride 2013 ~ 神仏の地で行われるエクストリームライド第3弾!応頂山勝尾寺で”勝運”を掴んだのはポルク!究極の石段ダウンヒルはド迫力 Cycling Time

More funding needed to meet cycling targets The Times of London

US man threatened US drug chief over Armstrong probe Yahoo

Last Week's Cycling News

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Saturday, November 9, 2013

Seiho Takeuchi Exhibit of Painting for First Time in 95 Years

Takeuchi Seiho幻の名画、95年ぶり公開 竹内栖鳳「日稼」、モデルのめい対面

Takeuchi Seiho (1864 - 1942) is currently enjoying renewed interest thanks to a large exhibit now on at the Kyoto Municipal Museum of Art.

One painting is being exhibited for the first time in 95 years.

The painting is entitled "Day Laborer" depicts a woman taking a break and drinking soup at a corner of Higashi Honganji Temple.

The painting is dated 1917 and the details are stunning, from her clothing to the background.


Kyoto Municipal Museum of Art
124 Okazaki, Enshoji-cho, Sakyo-ku, Kyoto
Tel: 075 771 4107

Tuesday - Sunday 9:00 - 17:00
October 22 - December 1


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Friday, November 8, 2013

Top 10 Countries with Most Bicycles per Capita

Kyoto Mother Cycling with child on back一人当たりの自転車の所有権上位10カ国

More than a billion bicycles ply the world's roads. That is more than double the number of automobiles.

Here are the ten countries with the highest per capita bicycle ownership.

1. Netherlands (Population: 6,652,800 Bicycles: 16,500,000 Percentage: 99.1%)
2. Denmark (Population: 5,560,628 Bicycles: 4,500,000 Percentage: 80.1%)
3. Germany (Population: 81,802,000 Bicycles: 62,000,000 Percentage  75.8%)
4. Sweden (Population: 9,418,732 Bicycles: 6,000,000 Percentage: 63.7%)
5. Norway (Population: 4,943,000 Bicycles: 3,000,000 Percentage: 60.7%)
6. Finland (Population: 5,380,200 Bicycles: 3,250,000 Percentage: 60.4%)
7. Japan (Population: 127,370,000 Bicycles: 72,540,000 Percentage: 56.9%)
8. Switzerland (Population: 7,782,900 Bycicles: 3,800,000 Percentage: 48.8)
9. Belgium (Population: 10,827,519 Bicycles: 5,200,000 Percentage: 48%)
10. China (Population: 1,342,700,000 Bicycles: >500,000,000 Percentage: 37.2%)

Not surprisingly, the USA does not fare well (Population: 310,936,000 Bicycles: 100,000,000 Bicylists: 32,2%).

Note: some of the above math and numbers seem a bit off - Holland? - but we are not going to dip our big toe in that pond.

Source: Sacramento News and Review


CycleKyoto Home Page


Thursday, November 7, 2013

Eikando Temple Kyoto Illumination

eikando temple色づく秋 永観堂で試験点灯

The leaves are finally beginning to turn color in Kyoto. Tonight a cold front is predicted to descend upon western Japan, which will speed the annual display of orange, red, and yellow.

One of the best known spots in the city for viewing the beautiful leaves is Eikando Temple.

To highlight the colors, the temple will be illuminated until December 5.

The three thousand Japanese maple trees will be bathed in light every night from 5:30 until 8:30 pm.


Eikando Temple is on the Philosophers Walk in eastern Kyoto.

Eikando Temple
075 761 0007

Entrance Fee: 600 yen


CycleKyoto Home Page


Wednesday, November 6, 2013

New Fines For Texting and Using Head Phones While Cycling in Kyoto

Kyoto Woman on Bicycle京都で「ながら自転車」罰金

Kyoto will introduce fines for cyclists who text or use a cell phone while cycling.

In addition, cycling while using headphones or earbuds "at high volume that prevents one from hearing the sounds around one" also will result in penalties.

According to news reports, both of these behaviors will face fines of "up to 50,000 yen" (about $500).

We support this move but are skeptical that, short of causing an accident, few cyclists will ever be stopped and fined for cell phone use or listening to music while cycling.


CycleKyoto Home Page


Tuesday, November 5, 2013

Park and Ride in Kyoto Fall Tourism Season

Raku Bus Kyoto秋の京観光、イライラ少なく パーク&ライドが最大規模に

In order to avoid one of Kyoto's annual events - fall traffic jams - the city is promoting "Park-and-Ride."

As the moniker suggests, the city would like tourists to drive to a distant parking lot, and then take public transportation.

With Kyoto's decent public transportation network - JR, Keihan, Kintetsu, Eiden, Randen; Kyoto city buses, JR buses; and two subway lines - this is often possible.

Especially during peak leaf-viewing time - two weekends in November (16-17, 23-24) - traffic in certain areas such as Higashiyama, Arashiyama, etc. can be horrendous.

The city will set up free lots on those two weekends, one at Tambaguchi with connections for Keihan rail lines.

In the aforementioned areas, moreover, there will be restrictions on driving at those times.

In our humble opinion, this is all fine and well. However, two other options - more permanent - would solve much of the traffic congestion.

Bike lanes around the city would make cycling a much more attractive and safe option, both on those peak weekends and year-round.

Second, bringing back the trolley network that was discontinued in the late 1970s would go a long way to helping locals, students, and tourists get around the city safely, quickly, and comfortably.

For both, dedicated lanes are key.


CycleKyoto Home Page


Monday, November 4, 2013

Rails-to-Trails Heads to US Supreme Court


The American bicycle advocacy group Rails-to-Trails is headed to the US Supreme Court.

To quote the group:

"...the case pits a private landowner against established federal law that
allows former rail corridors created from public lands to be preserved
intact for public use - in this case a rail-trail that connects
to the Medicine Bow National Forest.

"Rails-to-Trails Conservancy was involved in this case last year, and
will once again be filing a brief - this time before the high

"This is a case that could have a lasting impact on the future of
rail-trails across the country. A win would reaffirm the grand vision
of our forefathers that explicitly held that these linear public
spaces should remain of and for the people.

"A loss would not only potentially block the public rail-trail
providing access to Medicine Bow National Forest, but would also
threaten rail-trails across America that utilize federally granted
rights of way

"As the only organization in America committed to defending the
preservation of railroad corridors for public access, Rails-to-Trails
Conservancy will be there in the Supreme Court fighting for trails and
transportation advocates nationwide."

For more information, click here.


CycleKyoto Home Page


Sunday, November 3, 2013

World Cycling News 3 November 2013

tofu seller bike kyoto今週のサイクリング2013年11月03日

Drivers and Cyclists Should Be Equals New York Times

Track Cycling World Cup: GB win double team pursuit gold BBC

5 Cyclists I love to hate London Cyclist

Lauréats 2013 Velo Quebec

What can the UK learn from Japan's cycling culture? Guardian

La revolución de la clase creativa El Pais

2012ジロ覇者のヘシェダルが過去のドーピングを告白、時効となってからの告白にカナダスポーツ倫理委員会は困惑、現役選手は「”嘘つきの世代”の語る言葉は信じられない」と厳しい言葉 Cycling Time

Call for cash to boost cycling and walking The Times of London

British women set new pursuit world record Yahoo

Last Week's Cycling News

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Saturday, November 2, 2013

Kyoto Geisha Dance Performance

Kyoto Geisha Dance舞あでやか秋の風情 「祇園をどり」開幕

The "Gion Odori" dance performance opened on November 1st at the Gion Kaikan.

This is the 56th annual performance. The geisha and maiko as always employ seasonal motifs in their costume and dance.

The performances are held twice daily - 1 pm and 4 pm - until November 10th.

Tickets are 3,500 yen (with tea 4,000).


Near the Gion stop on the City Bus line. The theater is a 15-minute walk from Shijo Station on the Keihan Line or from Kawaramachi Station on the Hankyu Kyoto Line.

Gion Higashi Kabu-kai
Telephone: 075 561 0224

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Friday, November 1, 2013

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