Monocolumn: It’s The Wheel Thing

Monocolumn: It’s The Wheel Thing

The passion for bicycles in Tokyo is hitting new heights thanks to bicycle rental initiatives combined with a creative project set to transform the capital into the template of a modern cycling metropolis.

  • 2 june 2010

Monocolumn is Monocle’s daily bulletin of news and opinion. Catch up with previous editions here.

Monocolumn- It’s The Wheel Thing

Forget maps and phrasebooks. The most important survival skill in Tokyo is the ability to dodge cyclists flying along the pavement on their beloved bicycles. Tokyo has long been a city for cyclists. From salarymen to baby-juggling housewives, residents frequently shun punctual but packed trains in favour of the freedom of cycling.

But the passion for bicycles is hitting new heights thanks to bicycle rental initiatives combined with a creative project set to transform the capital into the template of a modern cycling metropolis.

Signs of Tokyo’s bicycle boom include the emergence of “cycling chic” fashion labels, magazines devoted to two wheels and the renewal of old bicycle brands.

The nation’s biking love affair is likely to be cemented further by the launch in March of Japan’s first Parisian-style bicycle-sharing rental scheme operated by Vélib’ in Toyama city. Sanyo also recently unveiled an innovative new solar powered electric bicycle rental scheme that is now operating from two stations in the capital.

And Tokyo’s two-wheeled revolution is not slowing down: on Monday evening, around 60 bicycle lovers gathered in a bright white Aoyama showroom to launch a new initiative that aims to make cycling as forward-thinking as it is fashionable.

The meeting was organised by X2 Tokyo, an urban collective of 10 influential bicycle aficionados – among them designers, art directors, moviemakers and editors – sponsored by tyre company Bridgestone.

The group announced plans to commission four creatives – artist Maywa Denki, architecture duo Assistant, design engineer Motohide Hatanaka of Takram and dancer Chie Ito – to produce imaginative proposals relating to Tokyo cycling.

The four will hold a series of public “cycle lab” workshops throughout the summer, with their resulting creations unveiled in October during a Tokyo Design Week exhibition.

A new website devoted to Tokyo cycling – including interviews and interactive maps – was also launched this week by X2 Tokyo, as an extension of a design magazine it produced last year called Jitensha (”bicycle” in Japanese).

“Our goal is to make Tokyo a stylish bicycle city,” Takanori Hayashi, X2 Tokyo director, tells Monocle. 
”We want to transform the popularity of cycling into a fundamental movement, not just a temporary trend.” 
But the infrastructure of the city has yet to catch up with its affection for two-wheeled travel, according to Megumi Matsubara of Assistant.

“A bicycle is like a washing machine for the senses. Living in a busy city like Tokyo, you are exposed to a huge amount of information flow. Cycling helps you wash away the unnecessary dirt and refresh your mind.

“But bicycle lanes in the city are not improved yet and bicycles are not allowed on public transport, which limits their use.”

And so with its creative workshops to solar powered bicycles, 2010 seems destined to become a landmark year for Tokyo’s cycling population – which means that pedestrians on Tokyo’s pavements will have even more bikes to dodge.

Danielle Demetriou is a Monocle correspondent based in Tokyo

Monocolumn is Monocle’s daily bulletin of news and opinion. Click here to read more, or here to subscribe to the monthly magazine.

image by – reuben –


Fitness Advocate: Paving The Future of Workouts With Audio

Fitness & Sport
Innovation Yesterday

After The Initial Success Of AR Gaming, What Does The Future Hold?

With Pokemon GO earning up to $10m a day, R&D departments are busy searching for the next phase

Arts & Culture Yesterday

The Next Great Art Movement Will Come At The Swipe Of A Finger

An improved app, optimized digital display and monthly art discovery service round out Electric Objects' renewed commitment to democratizing the art world


Get PSFK's Related Report: Sports Debrief

See All
Retail Yesterday

A TV Streaming Service Is Designed Just For Kids

Toca TV is a new platform offering thousands of original and curated children's videos for a monthly subscription fee

Travel Yesterday

Bus Stop Transformed Into A Fitness Station For Commuters

Sports drink company Lucozade live-streamed an athletic trainer working out at a stop in Manchester to encourage travelers to get moving

Technology Yesterday

Shiseido And Microsoft Have Created A Makeup Filter For Women Who Telecommute

The Japanese cosmetic company built an augmented reality app that works alongside Skype for Business

Mobile Yesterday

Samsung Is Using AR To Help Beachgoers Stay Safe

Pocket Patrol utilizes a phone's camera to promote beach safety and educate people about hidden hazards

Design & Architecture Yesterday

500 Plastic Chairs Used To Create A Recyclable Pavilion

Design agency CODA built a grandoise art piece from simple lawn furniture


Future Of Automotive
Scenarios Driving The Digital Transformation Of An Industry

PSFK Op-Ed october 24, 2016

Community Builder: How to Hack Slack

Claire Wasserman, Founder of Ladies Get Paid, describes how she's using an internal team communication tool to build a network of thousands

PSFK Labs Yesterday

The Keys For Exceptional Performance On And Off The Field

PSFK Labs' new report highlights five important insights for businesses to perform better than the competition

Retail Yesterday

Exchange Your Old Razors For New Ones At This Bartershop

The subscription-based shaving company lets customers trade their unwanted razors for Harry's brand steel at a temporary New York pop-up

Food Yesterday

A Brewer Has Created The Most Expensive Chips To Snack On

St. Eriks Brewery created crisps made from rare mushrooms to go with its artisan beer, donating all proceeds to charity

Op-Ed Yesterday

Marketing Experts: Millennials And The Power Of Cool

'Good Is The New Cool' Authors Afdhel Aziz and Bobby Jones share their 7 principles for branding with a social impact

Travel Yesterday

Melbourne Hotel Lets Guests Stay In Their Own Chrome Airstream Trailers

Notel is a luxury rooftop with six guest rooms made from vintage 1970s mobile homes

Infants Yesterday

Battery Powered Cradle Will Rock Itself

NoomiNoomi is a clever device that makes it easier to put babies to sleep

Sustainability Yesterday

Swedish Citizens Get A Tax Break For Repairing Old Goods

A sustainability initiative encourages people to fix, rather than replace, broken objects

Fitness & Sport Yesterday

How Precision Data Can Make Anyone A Better Performer

The Sports Debrief from PSFK Labs looks at how analytic tools are being developed to optimize human performance across all industries

Home Yesterday

You Can Now Buy Furniture From A Daytime TV Show

Home furnishing online retailer Wayfair is partnering with Lifetime to create a shoppable life improvement television program

No search results found.