Bikes as Pedestrians: Osaka/Kyoto
Stepping out the door onto the sidewalk in Kyoto and Osaka can take a while to get used to with all the bicycles whirring by, sharing the usually tight space with crowds of pedestrians.
After years of working to make streets safer for cycling in my hometown of Portland, Oregon, it is a bit disconcerting to come somewhere with much higher walking and cycling numbers than Portland and find that very few cyclists use the streets and very few streets are signed/marked for cycling, even though legal. Mothers taking their children to school, salarymen on the way to and from work, students and deliverymen fill the sidewalks–weaving and bobbing among the walkers. A recipe for chaos? So it would seem, but the system works even if its a bit nerve-wracking to a visitor. (And did I mention they ride on the left!?!?!?)
But even in a huge city like Osaka, (2.2 million in Osaka proper in a region of 8.8 million, one third of Japan’s population), once you get off the main arterials, you enter neighborhoods where the streets are quiet with slow moving cars, bikes and walkers sharing narrow roadways. On street parking is rare, and off street spaces very expensive, so there is little of jumble and dodge and weave required when parked cars form obstacle courses. I saw just a few separated cycle paths, and they were along riverways, shared with a few walkers.
Enjoy this little picture show from Japan!