Netherlands, Denmark and… Japan. In terms of number of cyclists, Japan is ranked third in the world. Thanks to its bicycle lane network? Not quite. With only 2,000km of bicycle lanes across the country, here is a true Japanese paradox.
Getting cyclists back on the road
With cities designed around multiple smaller centers rather than one central downtown, cycling (including the traditional Mama-Chari) is well-suited to the Japanese way of life.
Since the 1970s, cyclists have been using the sidewalks, sharing them with pedestrians for safety reasons. While this kind of “respectful chaos” between cyclists and pedestrians was once admirable, it has recently reached breaking point. An aging population in the city of Utsunomiya is attributed to the 50% rise in accidents involving pedestrians and cyclists between 2001 and 2011.
Under the supervision of the Professor Koike of the Kyowa University of Utsunomiya, this mid-sized city set up a cycle lane project with the long-term goal of developing completely separate cycle paths. The objective: to get cyclists back on the road. To measure the project’s success, four pairs of automatic counters were installed on a major city road to track pedestrian and cyclist usage of the pavement and the road.
Eco-Counter faces high Japanese standards
Our counting devices already classify users, however this counting project required additional, specialized functionalities, such as classification by speed in mixed traffic, which we developed especially for this system.
And while our solutions were known to have a precision rate of 90%, a “counter-counting” video was set up to test the system’s reliability. The local branch of the Japanese Ministry of Land, Infrastructure, Transport and Tourism approved the project, giving us important perspective on the whole territory.