Sunday, September 5, 2010

Emergency Post: Bicycles in Japan

I decided not to long after I had finished my bike ride today that once I had regained my composure, I should write an entry about Bicycles in Japan. I tried really hard to make an acronym for them but the only thing I got was:


Needless to say the acronym thing didn't really work out that well. Kerosene was the only dangerous sounding word I could come up with that begins with K.

Here is some background information on how this was all started. I just moved in with my host family today and after having discussed all the rules and curfew stuff (which was not that bad, I will talk about it some other time) I was asked whether I wanted to take the bus everyday or ride a bike. Well, naturally, being the healthy individual that I am, I chose taking the bike.

Once that was decided, host mom laid out a map on the floor and said this is the way that you get to school everyday. It looked to me like one of the maze things that they give kids on a piece of paper at Chili's so that they are occupied until there chicken nuggets come out, except it had been messed up and restarted 4 times. Ok thats a gross exaggeration, its bad as far as remembering the route goes. Anyways I said it seemed difficult and she said don't worry host dad will show you tonight.

2 hours later...

Host Dad and I get our bikes and get going. At first I'm feeling it. I'm loving the ride, the view is phenomenal (my opinion on that hasn't change since i got back from our excursion by the way) and everything is just wonderful. Then all the sudden we hang a left into a McDonalds parking lot and go down a ramp that leads to the worst hill in all of Japan. There is approximately 2 centimeters of bike lane, which for those of you who aren't metrically capable, less than an inch, and we are slipping past cars that are waiting for the light to go green.

Half way up, I am tried to avoid scrapping the cars with my handlebars and not fall in the foot deep ditch that japanese people require (possibly by law) next to all areas where bikes are ridden when all of the sudden my sandal just breaks. So I scoop it up, walk/pedal up the hill with cars now driving past and catch up to host dad. From there on, I am home free on a flat road except we have to stay on the sidewalk which is only 2 feet wide and changes in steepness every foot or so. Couple with that, the light posts that they didn't have any more space for make a charming obstacle for you to squeeze around.

We finally made it there and then back, but I have a much greater respect for the capabilities of bike riders in Japan. I also have a new found awe for the damage that can be caused by a bicycle. Well cross your fingers that I don't get run over by one of these little box SUV's that they drive here.


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