Tuesday, July 24, 2012

Imaginary cycling arguments in Japan

Cycling on the road in Japan has had an unexpected impact on my imaginary arguments with drivers.

The most obvious problem of course is that the drivers probably only speak Japanese. While I sometimes try to conduct my simpler arguments in Japanese, at my level it's pretty much a waste of time for everyone involved. Happily, since these arguments are imaginary, I can just pretend they speak English.

A slightly less obvious problem is that a stock justification for cyclist doesn't work in Japan. Occasionally I take up a whole lane because there isn't enough space for a car to safely overtake and I'd rather they didn't try. If I was in a car, I would be taking up that space all the time.

In many countries, one more bike really is "one less car" (like it says on the stickers). That's not the case in Japan. When I don't cycle, I get the train. If I stopped cycling entirely I would get the train every day. I don't own a car here, I don't want to - parking would be expensive and I don't fancy being stuck in the queues I see every morning.

So best case, it's "one more seat on the train". However since I'm usually travelling around peak, the reality is more like "one more standing space on the train". Even in an imaginary argument, that's an embarrassingly poor justification.

I'm probably not even saving much energy by biking (if any at all) but I am keeping fit, saving money and time.The problem is that these are pretty selfish benefits. For a good imaginary argument you need to be way up on the moral high ground and I don't appear to be. In fact, I'm not entirely convinced that cyclists on the road in Japan have the moral high ground at all.

Slightly inspired by watching this video this morning.

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