In Post-Quake Japan, Bicycle Use on the Rise

Bicycle use is on the rise in Japan, where recovery from the March 11 earthquake and tsunami has made driving and transit use much more difficult.
April 22, 2011, 6am PDT | Nate Berg
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"Mr. Kobayashi is director of the Bicycle Usage Promotion Study Group, a nonprofit organization that promotes usage of bicycles in Tokyo. Since March 11, when an earthquake devastated northern Japan and rattled the Tokyo metropolitan area, the streets of Suginami ward, where he lives, have teemed with wobbly bikers pedaling their way to work.

'The increase was sudden and visible,' he said during an interview.

Over the past 20 years, more commuters in urban areas like Tokyo have been switching gears and choosing to bicycle to work instead of using trains and cars, citing concerns for health, environment, costs and an escape from packed trains. The catastrophe last month has now converted some of the holdouts by proving one more benefit to cycling: you have a means to go home when the trains stop moving."

And the trains did stop moving, stranding nearly 9 million people the day of the earthquake. As a result, more people have turned to bicycles as a reliable transportation choice amid fears of another shutdown.

Thanks to The Overhead Wire

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Published on Tuesday, April 19, 2011 in The New York Times
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