Comprehensive Bicycle Program
Planning Section,Management and Planning Department,Edogawa City

The Problem

Situated at the eastern gateway to the Japanese capital, Edogawa City is, despite its location in the heart of Tokyo, a beautiful scenic community of rivers and trees. Preserving that attractive townscape in the midst of the changes brought about by urban modernization has been a major challenge.
Edogawa was originally a city of rural scenery nestled in lush natural surroundings. From the 1960s, however, infrastructure development increasingly lagged behind the growth in population triggered by rapid urbanization, and much of the city’s natural environment was lost. Rice paddies were filled in, rivers became contaminated, development proceeded pell-mell around train stations, and most of the town’s scenic beauty was destroyed without a thought. Deeply concerned about what was happening, the local government and residents took community-wide action to improve their surroundings by organizing campaigns to clean up the environment, plant trees, and so forth. Edogawa was the first place in Japan to implement a shinsui (“enjoy the waterside”) parks program, which involves restoring polluted rivers to pristine condition by cleaning their waters, rather than simply filling them in. It has thus slowly but surely restored the attractive cityscape it once enjoyed in the past.
But these successes were undercut by the gradual proliferation of bicycles chaotically parked around train stations, which became a serious blight on the beauty of the cityscape. At the time Japan’s railway network was rapidly expanding, and it became common for people to commute to work and school by bicycling to the nearest station and then taking the train to their destination. As a result of increased bicycle use, the areas around train stations became cluttered with large numbers of randomly parked bicycles, which detracted from the local scenery. The resulting deterioration in the townscape even had a considerable negative impact on the business of nearby stores. Bicycles jutting out into the roadway ended up paralyzing urban functions by impeding the passage of emergency vehicles. Haphazardly parked bicycles were even one factor in the decline of overall community safety in that they were a temptation to bicycle theft. At its peak the number of improperly parked bicycles around Edogawa’s ten stations totaled 9,000, creating numerous challenges for the community and prompting growing calls by local residents for a solution.
Edogawa City attempted to solve the problem by building large numbers of bicycle parking facilities, but parking facilities located at a distance from the station proved inconvenient, and people ended up leaving their bikes right outside the station just as before. While often viewed as a nuisance on the roads, bicycles are in fact an eco-friendly means of transport that anyone can use. With the looming threat of global warming, their use should if anything be encouraged.
With that in mind Edogawa City devised the Comprehensive Bicycle Program — a system designed not simply to banish bicycles from the roads, but rather to encourage widespread bicycle ridership while eliminating improper parking of bicycles in the interests of a more attractive urban landscape.

Solution and Key Benefits

 What is the initiative about? (the solution)
The greatest benefit gained from implementation of the Comprehensive Bicycle Program has been a dramatic improvement in the urban environment around train stations. By eliminating the clutter of bicycles, Edogawa has succeeded in restoring its former scenic beauty.
To provide specific numbers, in 2001, before the policy came into force, the number of bicycles improperly parked around Edogawa’s ten stations numbered some 9,000; by the time of a May 2010 survey, that figure had dropped 97% to 282. Particularly noteworthy: improperly parked bicycles have been eliminated completely at Kasai Rinkai Koen Station and two other stations. With the Comprehensive Bicycle Program well advanced, Edogawa City now has an “improper bicycle parking rate” of just 1.7%, the lowest in the Tokyo Metropolitan area; the improper bicycle parking rate indicates what percentage of bicycles arriving in the vicinity of a train station are improperly parked.
The parking facilities installed under the Comprehensive Bicycle Program currently have a combined capacity of over 50,000 bicycles, and for many people that makes cycling more convenient than ever. The number of people using this eco-friendly form of transport is increasing in Edogawa City. And because bicycles are now stored in proper parking facilities, bicycle theft has declined dramatically, falling by some 40% from its peak.
The running of bicycle parking facilities, removal and delivery of improperly parked bicycles, and other related services have been outsourced en bloc to the private sector. In addition to streamlining operations, that has greatly improved the level of service by enabling rapid response during emergencies and allowing service to be provided at night.
More attractive surroundings heighten the desire of residents to protect their environment. In 1992, Edogawa City set up a committee consisting of representatives of government and the local residents called the Liaison Council on Prevention of Illegal Parking, and commenced a series of community-wide campaigns to eliminate improper parking of automobiles and bicycles. In recent years these efforts have really taken off: in 2008, over 8,000 people took part. The cornerstone of public administration lies in nurturing attractive local communities; the Comprehensive Bicycle Program has been of tremendous benefit in that regard.

Actors and Stakeholders

 Who proposed the solution, who implemented it and who were the stakeholders?
Both government and local residents were eager to eliminate the clutter of bicycles and restore the attractive cityscape of bygone years. That desire inspired Nobuyuki Tsuchiya, Director General of Public Works Department with Edogawa City, to devise and execute the Comprehensive Bicycle Program. As an employee of the Tokyo Metropolitan Government, Mr. Tsuchiya has built up extensive experience in public works administration throughout Tokyo. Possessing a profound knowledge of advanced construction technology and civil engineering, he is a dynamic personality always ready to take on new challenges. In 2003, he was seconded to Edogawa City from the Tokyo Metropolitan Government and assumed the post of Director General of Public Works. That post covers a broad mandate, from management of roads and rivers to community and park development. It also entails responsibility for policies on bicycles. Mr. Tsuchiya, observing the overflow of bicycles parked haphazardly around Edogawa’s stations, became convinced that remedying the situation would require a major initiative, coupled with the cooperation of local residents and the private sector.
First, Mr. Tsuchiya proposed building modern bicycle parking facilities. Existing bicycle parking areas, being located at a distance from the station, were underused, and many bicycles continued to be parked improperly. But there was no land available for providing parking in convenient spots next to stations. Mr. Tsuchiya therefore decided to use state-of-the-art engineering technology to construct parking facilities capable of accommodating large numbers of bicycles in a limited area. At the actual design stage he worked in close coordination with private sector people possessing greater specialized knowledge. The resulting facilities are a triumph of technology: they can hold hundreds or even thousands of bicycles within the cramped space available next to a train station, and they have greatly enhanced convenience for users.
Next, turning conventional wisdom on its head, Mr. Tsuchiya came up with the idea of contracting out operation of the parking facilities, along with related services, en bloc to the private sector. This unprecedented arrangement was made possible by extensive dialog with private sector operators. The knowledge and experience of the private sector are now indispensable to providing high-quality public services.
Partnership with local residents was also integrated into the Comprehensive Bicycle Program. Citizens participated actively in the task of deciding basic etiquette and rules for cyclists, ensuring that what emerged conformed to actual conditions in the community. Community activities like the Liaison Council on Prevention of Illegal Parking flourished as local government, the private sector, and local residents joined together in claiming back the attractive scenery that Edogawa boasted in the past.

(a) Strategies

 Describe how and when the initiative was implemented by answering these questions
 a.      What were the strategies used to implement the initiative? In no more than 500 words, provide a summary of the main objectives and strategies of the initiative, how they were established and by whom.
The objective of the Comprehensive Bicycle Program is to restore the attractive cityscape of Edogawa City. By promoting the use of bicycles, it also helps reduce CO2 emissions and thus protect the global environment.
The Comprehensive Bicycle Program consists of five main strategies. First is the installation, in the immediate vicinity of each station, of bicycle parking facilities able to accommodate 100% of demand at that station. At present there is enough parking capacity at Edogawa’s ten stations to store some 50,000 bicycles. Second is the outsourcing en bloc of bicycle parking services at each station to a private sector operator. This has greatly improved convenience for users by making service available for longer hours, from early in the morning until late at night. Third is the expansion of no-bicycle-parking zones. Whereas these used to be designated by route, they are now designated by area. Fourth is the installation of cycling lanes in order to create a more bicycle-friendly environment. The establishment of cycling lanes around stations has also helped reduce illegal parking of vehicles. Fifth is a campaign to improve bicycle etiquette and foster public awareness with the involvement of local residents. Eager to protect the attractive scenery they now enjoy around their station, many residents are today involved in these efforts to promote awareness.
Bicycle-related policies and services were before each implemented separately; under the Comprehensive Bicycle Program they have, as a way to improve outcomes, been integrated into a single system implemented on a station-by-station basis. The basics of the system were devised by Mr. Tsuchiya; it was then perfected and put into practice in consultation with many staff members of Edogawa City Office.
But the Comprehensive Bicycle Program could not have been implemented by government alone. Also crucial was ensuring that local residents and private sector operators well understood its purpose and significance and played their part. For that reason residents in particular were carefully briefed on the program, and it was implemented gradually starting with those areas where bicycle parking facilities were already available and the support of the locals had been gained.

(b) Implementation

 b.      What were the key development and implementation steps and the chronology? No more than 500 words
Edogawa City has constructed numerous bicycle parking facilities since the 1980s, when the proliferation of bicycles around stations began to mar the local scenery. However, there were no extensive plots of land suitable for the building of such facilities left available around stations, where urbanization was already well advanced; instead they were installed on vacant lots at some distance from the station or beneath elevated train lines. They were therefore inconvenient for users and certainly did nothing for the urban landscape. Various other problems too arose: far more bikes were parked at the facilities than they were designed to hold, since they did not have enough capacity to fully accommodate parking demand at each station; nor were they well managed.
Then, in 1995, a large-scale parking facility with capacity for 3,000 bicycles was constructed at Hirai Station, one of Edogawa’s main stations. This facility differed from its predecessors in that it was built underground, beneath the square next to the station; so besides being extremely convenient, it did not mar the urban scenery. It thus overcame the deficiencies that had plagued bicycle parking facilities to date. From then on bicycle parking facilities were generally installed underground in the immediate vicinity of each station.
The Comprehensive Bicycle Program got under way in 2005 at five of Edogawa’s stations where all the necessary conditions were in place, including completion of a bicycle parking facility in the station’s immediate vicinity like that at Hirai, and the reaching of an agreement with a private sector operator and local residents. The program gradually expanded to other stations from there. Most notably, in 2008, work was completed on the world’s largest mechanized bicycle parking facility situated underground, a 5,600 m2 facility with capacity for 9,400 bicycles adjacent to Kasai Station. This, the crowning achievement of Edogawa City’s bicycle parking construction program, entailed repeated study and the elimination of many obstacles along the way.
Today Edogawa’s ten stations have enough parking capacity among them for a total of more than 50,000 bicycles. With improvement of convenient bicycle parking, no-bicycle-parking zones have been expanded and bicycles illegally parked there are regularly removed. Here the private sector operators on contract to the City have played a major role. Meanwhile grassroots efforts like the Eliminate Illegal Bicycle Parking Campaign and the Eliminate Bicycle Theft Campaign have thrived.
Steps have also been taken to create a more bicycle-friendly environment. Cycling lanes have been designated with a blue line on the side of the road. Further, a bicycle rental program was launched in 2009. At three stations on the south side of Edogawa City, a total of 400 bicycles are now available for rental from early in the morning until 1 a.m., after the last train of the day. This service has proved highly popular: in 2010, its utilization rate reached 135%.

(c) Overcoming Obstacles

 c.      What were the main obstacles encountered? How were they overcome? No more than 500 words
The greatest challenge encountered in implementing the Comprehensive Bicycle Program was the construction of bicycle parking facilities.
Building such a facility requires a great deal of money. The bicycle parking facility at Kasai Station, for example, cost $86 million to build. That amount was covered with subsidies from the national government and the City’s own funds, the latter procured through implementation of administrative and financial reforms. Thanks to a series of radical reforms launched in 2001, Edogawa City succeeded in greatly reducing personnel costs and commensurately expanding public services. The construction of so many large-scale bicycle parking facilities too was made possible by the large amounts of funding freed up by these reforms.
Constructing a bicycle parking facility in the bustling vicinity of a train station requires compressing the project schedule as much as possible to minimize the impact on regular traffic. Building the facility at Kasai Station involved a particularly large number of challenges. Located on the south side of Edogawa City, Kasai Station is a major transportation hub used by 100,000 people a day, and many cars and public buses come and go throughout the day.
The construction project team led by Mr. Tsuchiya conducted repeated studies in the search for solutions, and finally decided to adopt the cutting-edge techniques of Urban-Ring method and Precast concrete method. There had been hardly any previous cases of these techniques being applied to construction of an underground bicycle parking facility, and skepticism about the prospects of success was expressed in some quarters. But the problems were solved one by one, and the construction schedule, set in the original plan at five years six months, was slashed to just two years six months. It was also necessary to provide storage for a large number of bicycles in a limited space. That was achieved by mechanizing the facility. Bicycle parking facilities at the time almost invariably required the cyclist to wheel his or her bicycle to the place of storage; there were only a handful of mechanized facilities in existence. Nonetheless, the many obstacles involved were overcome, and whereas in the original plan a storage capacity of 7,100 bicycles was regarded as the outside limit, that figure was successfully boosted to 9,400.
Another challenge was obtaining the agreement and cooperation of local residents, without which the Comprehensive Bicycle Program would have made no headway. The operation of a large-scale bicycle parking facility costs a lot, and users must be asked to bear their fair share. The issue thus became a major topic of debate in Edogawa City Council. In the end many residents assented to paying a due portion of the cost in the interests of a more attractive townscape and greater convenience. The improved scenery around stations even led to a spontaneous increase in the number of residents helping in citizens' grassroots campaigns to eliminate improperly parked bicycles and beautify the vicinity of stations.

(d) Use of Resources

 d.      What resources were used for the initiative and what were its key benefits? In no more than 500 words, specify what were the financial, technical and human resources’ costs associated with this initiative. Describe how resources were mobilized
The first resource used for the Comprehensive Bicycle Program was the cutting-edge technology that underpinned construction of the bicycle parking facilities, along with people able to harness it. Edogawa City is one of the lowest-lying areas in Japan, and the ground is extremely soft. Thus as soon as one starts digging to install a structure underground, groundwater wells up and the hole becomes flooded. Yet at each station a shaft had to be excavated to house the actual parking facility. That is where Urban-Ring method construction amply proved its worth. This technique, which involves inserting concrete cylinders in the ground and boring, is superior to conventional techniques in stopping water inflow; it thus enabled subsequent construction to proceed smoothly.
Precast construction involves manufacturing the concrete members required for a project in the factory and then assembling them on site; its adoption helped greatly to shorten the construction schedule. In addition, the construction cost per bicycle, $10,300 in the original plan, was reduced by some 12% to $9,100 by, among other measures, using secondary products for most of the concrete members.
Bicycle storage and retrieval are for the most part automated. The system uses an IC card and IC tag, and it takes only a few seconds to store your bicycle and about ten seconds to retrieve it; the whole operation is over in an instant. That has dramatically increased convenience for users, eliminating congestion even at busy times of day like the morning and early evening when large numbers of people utilize the facility. This description is of the mechanized underground bicycle parking facility at Kasai Station. Similar technology has been used to great success at Funabori Station, as well as for the new facility installed at Hirai Station in 2009. These cutting-edge technologies were skillfully harnessed by Mr. Tsuchiya and the other engineers on staff in constructing such massive facilities; were it not for them, the Comprehensive Bicycle Program would never have seen the light of day.
The second resource tapped for the initiative took the form of close cooperation and coordination between government and local residents. Edogawa City has evolved as a series of communities centered on local neighborhood associations. That made it possible to secure the understanding and cooperation of a broad section of the residents by carefully explaining the project’s purpose and intent. The Comprehensive Bicycle Program thus won broad acceptance among local residents, and that in turn enabled its smooth implementation.

Sustainability and Transferability

  Is the initiative sustainable and transferable?
Operating the bicycle parking facilities that form the core of the Comprehensive Bicycle Program entails considerable running costs. It will therefore be essential to balance revenues and expenditures if the program is to be sustainable.
To that end the users of the service must be asked to bear a fair share of the costs. The levying of user fees commensurate with services provided is prescribed by Japan’s Local Autonomy Law, and charging user fees based on the law is vital to the sustainability of the Comprehensive Bicycle Program. Currently annual expenditures on the program total $13.4 million, while annual revenues from users total $12.8 million. Thus right now costs slightly exceed income. In a few years, however, the two should roughly balance out as the number of users increases and further cost cuts are made. That will make it possible to continue providing high-quality service into the future.
The Comprehensive Bicycle Program can be replicated by customizing it to the circumstances of the particular city in question. Of course, because of the considerable construction and running costs involved, a proper financial plan will need to be put in place first. Countries considered leaders in the field of bicycle policy include France, the Netherlands, and Italy. All have invested large amounts of money in preserving the urban landscape and encouraging the use of bicycles as an eco-friendly mode of transport. By exchanging technology and information with countries like these, Edogawa City is working on a global scale to create a more bicycle-friendly environment and promote the use of this eco-friendly form of transport.
The world’s population is growing and its cities are becoming increasingly overcrowded. Meanwhile the global environment is rapidly being destroyed, and fighting global warming is a task of the greatest urgency for the whole planet. Those facts make the bicycle a highly attractive means of transport in that it is particularly well suited to urban use and has a small environmental footprint. Although not yet in widespread use globally, the bicycle will inevitably come into greater demand as more people flock to the cities, and that will create the same kinds of challenges as have confronted Edogawa City. For that reason we are eager to promote the Comprehensive Bicycle Program with others.

Lessons Learned

 What are the impact of your initiative and the lessons learned?
Of the elements of the Comprehensive Bicycle Program, the mechanized bicycle parking facilities have had the most significant impact.
The program has already won numerous prestigious prizes in Japan, including the Japan Society of Civil Engineers Award and the Japan Construction Engineers’ Association Award, which recognize the adoption of outstanding construction technology and implementation of innovative projects. Public administrators in Japan and beyond have been greatly impressed by this initiative to eliminate improper parking of bicycles at a stroke, and thus create a more attractive cityscape, by constructing large-scale parking facilities in the cramped space adjacent to a station — something previously considered impossible. To date over 120 groups from all over Japan have visited Edogawa to observe the program in action. The program has also attracted the attention of the media, including television and newspapers; it has received coverage some 50 times so far. That has made the initiative even better known, and it has become a model for other municipalities grappling with environmental challenges.
An important lesson learned was that something that may appear impossible can actually be achieved if enough heads are put together. Constructing a large bicycle parking facility in the limited space next to a train station while giving due consideration to safety, and doing so moreover in a short span of time such as not to disrupt the daily flow of traffic, is an immensely difficult task. Installing the underground parking facility at Kasai Station in particular involved a host of challenges in terms of space and scheduling; indeed, at first the idea of building something large enough to accommodate 9,400 bicycles was considered unrealistic. But Edogawa was determined to make the impossible happen. Discussion of the initiative, instead of being entrusted exclusively to the departments directly responsible, was systematically conducted on a government-wide basis, with the whole of Edogawa City Office involved; that meant eliminating the sectionalism characteristic of the typical Japanese government office. Valuable input was also obtained from outside the municipal government; for example, close consultations were held with the Ministry of Land, Infrastructure, Transport and Tourism as well as private sector engineers. These efforts made possible the construction of the world’s largest bicycle parking facilities. The Comprehensive Bicycle Program has thus proved a tremendous success.

Contact Information

Institution Name:   Planning Section,Management and Planning Department,Edogawa City
Institution Type:   Government Agency  
Contact Person:   Yoshiaki Ishida
Title:   Director  
Telephone/ Fax:   +81-3-5662-6054 c/o Mr.Shiota
Institution's / Project's Website:   +81-3-3652-1109 c/o Mr.Shiota
Address:   1-4-1 Chuo
Postal Code:   132-8501
City:   Edogawa-ku
State/Province:   Tokyo
Country:   Japan

          Go Back

Print friendly Page