Pilot Bicycle Rental Projects Start in Two Cities near Tokyo
Beginning in September 2010, pilot bicycle rental projects have been initiated in two Japanese cities in the Tokyo metropolitan area; Saitama City in Saitama Prefecture and Fujisawa City in Kanagawa Prefecture.
Saitama City conducted a social experiment on Community Cycling from September 25 through October 22, 2010. In the experiment, users could rent and return bicycles at any of the rental stations established at multiple sites in the city. Pre-registered individuals were able to use bicycle at a lower rate. The project aims to promote use of bicycles as a part of city-wide efforts to develop a traffic system not excessively dependent on automobiles, as laid down in the Saitama City Comprehensive Transportation System Master Plan.
Meanwhile, Fujisawa City started a pilot project on bike sharing on September 1, 2010, as a joint project between industry, academia and government. Similarly to the community cycle project, the project provides a system to share and use bicycles among multiple individuals.
These programs are part of a recent trend in larger Japanese cities, where rental bicycles are increasingly being used as an alternative to automobiles.