Sunday, 17 July 2011

じてんしゃ and ママチャリ (Bicycles and Mama-chariots)

In a country of over 127 million people, the use of bicycles has exceeded that of cars - some estimate that there are as many as 86 million bicycles in Japan. This has lead to many uniquely Japanese innovations - in particular the 'Mama chari' (mama chariot)  and the Eco Cycle parking system.

With so many bicycles, there are of course some problems with  bicycle parking. Many people ride their bicycle to the train station and leave it parked at the station as they ride a train to work. As you may imagine, there are many, many bicycles parked at every station!
Bicycles parked at a train station in Japan

More bicycles parked at train stations!

And along the sides of streets.

More again!

This is a particularly large bicycle parking area.
 To deal with the problem of bicycle parking, the Japanese have created the Eco Cycle parking system. It is a system of underground bicycle parking which reduces the space needed for bicycle parking
The Eco Cycle parking booth above ground - just pop in your bicycle and your money!

Your bicycle will be automatically moved to the underground storage area.


An artists impression of how the underground storage unit looks.

Storing bicycles underground clears the area above ground while keeping bicycles safe.

Another uniquely Japanese creation is the 'Mama chari'. This refers to a bicycle with one or more child seats attached. While we now have these in Australia, they have been in Japan for a long time and come in all shapes and sizes!

Standard 2-child seat Mama chari - the children travel in comfort and safety

This mama-chari has seats for two children and a basket for the groceries

It's lots of fun riding the mama-chari

The bicycle is well made and does not tip easily.

Three fit comfortably on this mama-chari

Of course, it is not only children who get to ride in the seat!

An this is an adaption of the mama-chari - the papa-chari!

Feed my fish!

Ready to make music?