Investment in bicycle parking is more important rather than bicycle lanes.
Many people go shopping or work on a bike in Fukuoka City, compared to other major cities in Japan. It means that the city center, where most of them gather, need parking stations to accommodate their bikes. The center, Tenjin Area, once one of the worst areas in Japan for disorderly parked bicycles, has changed as a bicycle-friendly area, in terms of bicycle parking, with the city government’s plan based on the activity analysis of bicycle users.
Fukuoka City’s endeavor on bicycle parking
The bicycles have been recognized globally as the most sustainable and efficient form of urban transportation for short and medium distances, being eco-friendly and economical. And it is also one of the popular means of transportation in Fukuoka City, a river delta city, relatively flat and compact. A 2017 statistic shows that Fukuoka City’s modal share of bicycles is 15.1 percent on the weekday, which is higher than 12.1 percent, the average of 20 major cities in Japan, excluding Tokyo. Many people commute to work or go shopping on a bike in this city, so it is essential to develop bicycle parking in the city center.
Since the 1980s, the convenience of using bicycles in this city, with the increasing population, has made the city face the problem of disorderly parked bicycles, especially near train stations or shopping areas. These bicycles gave a disorganized feeling of the area and obstructed traffic flow, especially the pedestrians. In 1985, Fukuoka City established the ordinance of bicycle parking around train stations and shopping areas. And in 1991, the city government designated a 500-meter radius from the center as a non-parking zone and built a parking station, which could accommodate 1,500 bicycles underneath the park in the city’s center, Tenjin. However, Tenjin Area was ranked one of the worst areas in Japan between the late 1990s and 2003 in the report on parked bicycles violating the rules conducted by the Cabinet Office of Japan. The city government removed disorderly parked bicycles in the area and charged the fees to the bicycle owners; however, it was not an effective way to solve the problem.
As a result, the city government conducted the survey and interviews with bicycle users, carefully analyzed needs in local bicycle parking spaces, and compiled the Fukuoka City Comprehensive Bicycle Plan in 2004. And the plan was implemented with the area management councils and the area developers, as such, transforming unused open spaces in the area into bicycle parking stations, setting up the parking spots in the convenient places, such as city-center parks and an old underground corridor between the subway stations, placing staff at some parking spots for 24 hours. Also, parking fees in some locations were set free-of-charge for the first one to three hours to promote parking use.
Finally, Fukuoka City cleared the negative image of being the worst in Japan on disordered bicycle parking. The rate of illegal parking in the area has been consecutively less than one percent in recent years, and disorderly parked bicycles are hard to find. And it keeps an orderly landscape and safe promenade for pedestrians of all kinds, including children, senior citizens, and disabled. The bicycle parking space in Fukuoka City in the city center is well-integrated with urban space. And this is a fruitful endeavor of the Fukuoka City Government and the stakeholders in the area.
[Case ID: Urban Policy UP-04]