Tuesday, June 30, 2009

Our rules may not apply

Just wanted to add some thoughts on Kao's last post.

We who are obsessive enough about bikes to have a blog dedicated to the subject may think about all things related to bicycling endlessly, but most other people in the world who ride bikes probably don't dwell on these things at all. They just go about daily life and riding a bike is just one part of it.

Kao was recently in the old Shitamachi part of Tokyo and had a bit of free time to take a few photos of people on bicycles there. It is an area with a lot of elderly people and so, most of the people on bicycles were the elderly as well.

In this photo you see a very tiny old lady on her tricycle.
Her saddle position is so low that her knees come up really high while she pedals. We might think of things like that when we see this picture, and we might even think of how to better her riding position on her bike, but does it really matter?

It seems the majority of people on bikes in Japan have saddles very low on their bikes and I used to think that they ought to raise them and have a more efficient riding position, but most of them ride very slow and not very far so that it doesn't really matter. What matters is that they ride bikes and it's an integral part of their lives. It may not be the way we envision cycling, but this too is cycling.

It seems tricycles are very popular there. It makes sense. They are stable and can carry a lot of stuff in their front and rear baskets. Even if they ride so slow that they are not much faster than walking, I'm sure they make life much easier for these old ladies. Kao said that this particular street is for bikes and pedestrians only and car traffic was prohibited. I haven't seen many such streets in Tokyo myself, but it makes sense to do that with a lot of elderly people traveling on bicycles. If they could have more streets like this in Tokyo, cycling in Tokyo would be so much better.

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