Saturday, July 31, 2010

A Note on Bicylcles

Bicycles are everywhere in Sapporo, especially at Hokkaido University. Although I have never been to the Netherlands, I have the distinct impression that this is what it is like there.

There are some difference between bicycle riding in Canada and Japan. First, most of the bicycles are single gear, comfort cycles whereas in Canada most are ten speeds, 18 speeds, mountain bikes, and touring bikes. Second is that bicyclists ride on the side walk. This can be irritating and I was initially affronted by this, but have since become used to it. Third, no one wears a helmet. This is concerning to me given the brain injury and other life risks associated with falling or getting hit by vehicles. However, I am not surprised at this.

What took a little longer to sink in was the absence on bicycle locks. I have seen remarkably few for the number of bikes. People just leave their bikes in the bike areas and head off to class, work, or whatever brought them to the University. They don't appear to be being stolen either. When I see this, I lament what kind of society Canada has become where bicycles are stolen and if you don't take responsibility for its security you are at fault for it being stolen. Shouldn't we place the blame on the bike thieves rather than ourselves? This place feels safe. I haven't felt this safe walking downtown streets in a long, long time. I wonder if we, in Canada, can ever reclaim this sense of security and safety?

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