Paid Bike Parking Racks in Tsukuba, Japan

I have never seen a paid biking rack ANYWHERE! But here in Tsukuba they exist. So if they’re here in Tsukuba they have to have them in other places around Japan.

There are so many bikes in Tsukuba that I guess the mall associates couldn’t resist earning a little income from them. They put up these racks near the end of my AEON job, and they put them everywhere. Every free parking area now has these paid rack systems. It makes more income for the mall, but it severely limits the number of bikes you can park in an area. Just 6 or 7 months ago, bike lots used to be jam-packed…especially on Saturdays. Now, because of the paid racks, there is far less bike crowding going on.

When MOG (the name of the shopping mall) decided to put up these racks, all of the staff members who rode bikes (all of the fluent English-teachers) were pretty annoyed. But everything wasn’t as bad as it seemed. What we found out was that these bike racks allowed free parking for up to three hours. After that the charges would start. These days If I’m running late need to dash for the train, the paid racks are the closest to the Tsukuba Express entrances. I pay 150 yen for between 8 and 9 hours of parking.

The parking price is pretty reasonable, but free parking always beats paid parking in my opinion. That 150 yen everyday can start to add up over time, right? So the cool thing is that I have a special employee sticker that grants me access to the free lot just across the street from the mall. Mind you I don’t know if the stickers matter, because so many people park there without them, but maybe it’s good to have just in case. When I’m not running late, this I always try to use the free parking lot.

I don’t ever think we’ll see things like this in the US. One, because I don’t think enough people are riding bikes on a mass basis and two, p
people would just find somewhere else to park their bikes.

It sucks to have to pay for bike parking, but I have to admit, from a business standpoint, it’s a pretty cool idea.

Donald Ash

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  • We love this idea! This idea could work in some very select places in the United States…think downtown Seattle, Portland and San Francisco. I actually found this article by searching for “paid bike parking”, because I think it would be very useful in the Bay Area (maybe the money raised could go to bicycling infrastructure, which we need so badly?)
    Anyways, cheers for the article!

    • Donald Ash

      Thanks for reading, Madeline. I think it was be awesome to have these in the US. You’re totally right, the U.S. biking infrastructure needs quite a bit of work. It’s nearly nonexistent in my hometown. Great thinking! You should really look into giving it a try,

  • Hillary Jones

    I would kill to be able to make out the english translation on your photo of the machine. The machine by my house doesn’t have any english on it. *sigh* HELP!

    • Donald Ash

      Hey Hilary. If you have time, please send me a picture of the machine by your house, and I will try to help :D . It’s good kanji practice for me :D .

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