In Tokyo a bicycle is faster than a car: Useless information or instructive tale?

“In Tokyo, a bicycle is faster than a car for most trips of less than 50 minutes.”

Thus saith the Internet.

Many of us who live or have lived in congested cities will find this easy to believe.

This “fact” was brought to my attention by Ray, a reader of Commute by Bike, who found the information in the Cars section of The News & Observer of Raleigh, North Carolina.

Ray actually gets the physical newspaper. When I asked him if he could find the article, it was too late to retrieve it from the recycling bin. (We get the physical local paper at our house too, Ray.)

So when I went Googling to verify the information, I found the quote repeated in many places on the Web. For example, STA, a UK-based travel Website:

Useless Info

And everywhere I found this information, it is presented (as it is by STA) as a curiosity, Useless Information, a Fun Fact.

This information is found listed alongside “There are 18 different animal shapes in the Animal Crackers cookie zoo,” and, “A fart is composed of 59% nitrogen, 21% hydrogen, and 9% dioxide.”

Really? That’s the context?

Here’s a different context: This is the logical response to the effects of autocentrism in our world’s cities. Not fun. Not useless.

Gothic Lolita girls
Gothic Lolita girls | Photo: Wikipedia

Tokyo ranks as one of the world’s most livable cities, and the world’s fourth most bike-friendly city. And it has become that way by choice, by effort, and by municipal investment — not by accident.

This bit of trivia is an opportunity to reflect on urban priorities, and how best to deal with whole mess of people in a small space while promoting quality of life, improving air quality, lowering health care costs, etc.

Personally, I find these facts much more interesting and useful than the bit of “Useful Info” about Tokyo provided by STA Travel:

A day out in Harajuku to people watch in some cafes is a great way to see the many different kinds of Gothic Lolita fashions worn by the Japanese.

But that’s just me.

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