Bicyles from Japan Help the Environment and People

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Bicycles are a common mode of transportation in Japan. It’s a great way to get to school, work, and the train station. It is convenient and inexpensive for errands. A bicycle is also a fine way to exercise and stay fit. Most of all, biking helps reduce global warming because it helps cut fuel emissions, a bike requires less energy to produce: unlike a car, it doesn’t need a lot of metal; it can use smaller roads to travel on; and it takes up less space for parking.

Bicycle in the Pleasure Quarter. | Mike Licht

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In Tokyo alone, countless unused bicycles are thrown away every year. Most are recycled into scrap metal, but many of these bikes can still be used with a few minor repairs. They can make a big difference for the people of other developing countries. A Japanese non-profit organization, JOICFP (Japanese Organization for International Cooperation in Family Planning) is collaborating with 12 different Japanese local governments to collect and repair donated bicycles and send them to developing countries like Ghana. This project, begun in 1988, has donated about 6 million bicycles to 91 countries to date.

Bicycle in Shinjuku. | Emily Cole

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Everyday bicycles (jitensha or charinko) are typically equipped with a basket or a child seat, a lock, a kickstand, and only one gear. Other more expensive bicycles, such as mountain bikes, road racing bikes, and even foldable ones, come with multiple gears. Bicycles are so common in Japan that there are parking areas dedicated just to bikes. You can even find multi-story parking garages for bicycles alone.

Bicycle station. | Rhett Sutphin

A bicycle is a relaxing and wonderful way to get around and enjoy the scenery. Using a bicycle greatly reduces harmful effects to our environment and promotes a greener and healthier lifestyle. For someone who has to walk miles just to get to school or work, a bicycle can be life-changing.

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