August 16, 2005
by Kie Yokochi, Kumiko Watanabe, and Naomi Watanabe
Do you tend to eat too much when you travel? Do you want to see a different side of Kyoto? Do you want to save the earth? Do you want to save time and money? If you can say ‘yes!’ to more than one of these questions, we think the bicycle is the best form of transport for you to explore Kyoto. The city of Kyoto is very small and many people live in it, so traffic jams are fairly normal. You sometimes have to wait for a very long time for a bus, but when it comes, it is often full. The bicycle, however, is faster and more versatile than the bus and much cheaper than taxis. There are many good roads and courses for cycling in Kyoto, so there are a number of rental bicycle shops to be found. But you should be careful!! Japanese cycling rules might be different from your home country, so please check this before you get in the saddle.
Bicycle Traffic Rules in Japan
Japanese law requires all vehicles which have wheels to give way to pedestrians. Even unicycles are considered vehicles. Basically bicycles follow almost the same rules as cars, so you need to obey the same traffic signs and signals.
Where to ride
How to Cross at Signals
- You can’t cross when the signal is red even if there are no cars.
- Cyclists must obey the signal for pedestrians, if there is this sign. If there is no such sign, you should obey the signal for cars.
- Cyclists must ride on the area that bears the bicycle motif. If there is no bicycle motif next to the pedestrian crossing, you should dismount and push your bicycle across.
Other Important Points
A Nice Cycling Route of Kyoto
Kitano tenmangu shrine Open: 5:00 ~ 18:00 Entrance fee: \ free
↓ Built in 947, this shrine is famous for its approximately 2000 plum
trees. A giant market, “tenjin-san”, is held here on the 25th of every month.
Awamochidokoro-Sawaya < Japanese sweet shop > Open: 9:00 ~17:00
↓ This restaurant offers delicious millet rice cake.
Machiya de ho < art gallery > Open: 11:00 ~ 18:00 Entrance fee: \ free
↓ This gallery is housed in an old style Japanese house “machiya”. The works here
are quite unique, and offer artwork that combines calligraphy (kanji characters)
with figures and images.