Oh, no! You took too long doing your hair this morning, and now you don't have enough time to walk to the station! You know you can't pull the "my train was late" excuse, because Japanese trains are never late. If they are, the station employees will hand out official Late Train Excuses (In over two years of train-taking, I've gotten one Excuse) so your boss will know she has to let it slide. But you can't hope for that! Fortunately, you've got your bike and can get to the station in a hurry. But how to use the train station bicycle parking? You don't have time to waste figuring this out!
|Just looking at a Bicycle Parking Lot can be overwhelming. This happens to be a very small one.|
When parking your bicycle during peak times, look for the on-duty Bicycle Parking Lot Attendant. He will direct you to an empty slot and park your bicycle for you. If an attendant is not around, find an empty slot and wheel your bicycle up until you hear the "click" of the latch.
|An empty slot.|
Your bicycle slot will be numbered. When you return, this is the number you enter in order to re-claim your bike. Make sure you also save a 100 yen coin!
|This bike is parked in Slot 106.|
Upon returning, look for the automatic payment machine. Sometimes , the few simple steps are translated into English (hopefully you read Japanese or English). If they aren't translated, then there is no need to worry. You're reading this post and will know what to do!
|This particular machine also takes Pasmo and 1000 yen bills.|
See? English! Told you this was easy! Type in your parking number, put in 100 yen, and the latch on your bicycle slot will automatically and immediately be released. Ta da! No more running all the way from home to catch your train!
|Just don't accidentally type in someone else's slot number!|
Have a scooter? No problem, there's parking for them, too.
Please be aware, anyone can come in and enter your bicycle slot number into the machine. This is where a common foreigner's misconception of Japan comes in. Millions and millions of bicycles are NOT left lying around unlocked. Japanese bicycles are actually designed with a small, rear wheel lock built into the frame of the bicycle. A small key closes and opens the lock. I didn't know this kind of lock existed until I bought my own bike, and I'm still not entirely sure why it's necessary. Bicycle theft in Japan just isn't very high on my crime radar. In my family, we have two adult bicycles and one Radio Flyer tricycle that we park practically in the street. We don't lock them, and they have never even been breathed on. Of course, bicycles are stolen in Japan. Maybe like one a year. So if the parking lot attendant is there to assist, lock your bicycle- regardless of your bicycle theft concerns. He will stay there until you do so!
-The Tofu Fox