Bicycle Parking Question:
Those imperious old men at the train station keep telling me not to park my bicycle there. What can I do about my bicycle parking?
Though they can’t actually do much to stop you, brazenly locking up your bicycle in front of one of these old men pretty much guarantees your bike will be the first on the truck at the next bicycle cleanup. (These happen once every one or two months on average).
Whilst we should point out that this is still a contravention of the city ordinances, bicycles which are generally only collected from:
(i) Directly in front of train stations;
(ii) From shopping streets leading to/from train stations; and
(iii) Sneaky areas such as side streets where large numbers of people have had the same idea & leave bicycles on a regular basis in medium to large numbers.
So, if your bicycle was left, say, a couple of blocks from the station and you just walked the final minute or so there, it could be assumed that it is fairly safe from being impounded. This technique is generally more successful if you additionally leave it in a side-street (out of sight, out of mind). And if that fails, leave it outside a convenience store or post office etc. Bikes are rarely taken from such places in case they make off with a genuine customer’s bicycle.
In addition, we strongly recommend not trying to rely on a heavy lock to keep your bicycle safe. The men who impound them are not scared to get a little rough & you could find your beloved bike is damaged in the process of removal. I’ve personally even seen them stuff rubbish off the street into a bicycle basket, then crush the top of the basket over so that the rubbish doesn’t fall out while they transport it. And, when they can’t get rid of a lock, or if it’s only a parking guard instead of an impound guy, they can be fans of giving a bicycle the “heave-ho” and throwing it into a bush or over a railing into the street (yes, I’ve also personally seen this happen).
In the past, where impound lots have had poor security I’ve heard stories of people “rescuing” their bicycles in brazen late-night escapades. However, to counter such heroics, most inner city lots now have extremely high fences & camera-based security. Without the cameras, you may still be safe, but if they catch an image on camera of someone making off with a bicycle over the fence, and then your bicycle is missing from their records, it wouldn’t take a Nobel science laureate to deduce that it was you. So better to be safer than sorry in this instance.
For those of you who have bicycle parking areas near your station, these can sometimes be well worth it. Prices vary from location to location of course but tend to be around 100 yen per day or 1,000 to 2,000 yen per month. If you need more info, try talking to one of the staff there, they are usually very friendly, and there should also be a board listing the prices in a fairly visible location, which shouldn’t be too hard to decipher.
The most dangerous days to leave your bike at the station are the first working days after a long weekend or holiday. Avoid these days at all costs!