The Tokyo Crawl

Read this entry on Ian‘s blog about how bad the walks are in Japan. On this topic, I have lots to complain about so here it goes.

One of the first things that really frustrated me here was how slow people walk. Around that time, there was even a “Rant and Rave” in Metropolis magazine (“Tokyo Classified” back then) about how the pace defies all laws of physics. For a bustling city like Tokyo, you would expect its citizens to be more active and in a hurry to get to their destination. Instead, you see salarymen, students and other professinals competing for the slowest walk. If only there was a minimum speed limit for pedestrians.

The lag is even more apparent now that I spend most of my commuting time on wheels. I ride on the road whenever I can, but sometimes am forced onto the sidewalk where the trouble starts. Part of the problem is how unaware of their surroundings the crawlers are. Approachers are the worst since they just refuse to look more than an inch ahead or as Dan would put it, are too busy receiving visual signals on their embedded v-chips. This morning, I almost managed to ram two people coming side by side in a very narrow part of the sidewalk, but slipped through somehow. Maybe next time.

Others, you just ride behind until they notice your ringing and gear clicking and jump out of the way in a panic. On the bright side, at least now I’ve learnt to ride through the Shibuya crowds at more than 30km/h and slow down to less than 1km/h and even stand still for a few seconds when I have to.

3 thoughts on “The Tokyo Crawl

  1. I too ride a bicycle to work most days, about 8 km each way, and have been doing so for the last 4 years. I avoid sidewalks at all costs. I ride in the middle of traffic, even against traffic if I must. With my blazing blue bike helmet and odd recumbent bike (recumbent? lying back. see ) I have few problems with drivers trying to encroach on my territory. Must have been the years of driving a motorcycle in Barcelona (much more interesting than New York).

  2. That reminds me, my helmet is starting to wear out so I have an excuse to get a better one.
    What I like best about cycling is that you are not only faster than the pedestrians, but can also beat all the other vehicles stuck in traffic.

  3. I’m glad to read this, because I thought the frustration of walking here was just my issue…I’m a New Yorker, and I’m used to, as we say “booking” on the sidewalks, not running, but certainly being interested in getting to our destination within the same day… In fact, some of us snooty NY-ers grow up with a jovial contempt for the “tourist shuffle”, otherwise known as the “march of the clueless”… then I move to a city where it seems that’s the only way folks walk…
    but I’m cool with it now: I live and work at home, basically, so try to choose my street time when there’ll be less traffic, and when I ride my bike, I try to stay in the street.

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