Today we went out and about town (mainly around Shibuya) but it was also an opportunity for me to try the newest version of the Koto-Ku bikeshare system. The procedure now requires that you register with a credit card, and the process is also much easier if you have an RFID readable card. I used my PASMO card.
You’ll notice a couple of differences from the last time I posted about this system. The first is that more of the electronics have been moved onto the bikes themselves, and there is no kiosk at the bikeshare station. The second and more significant change is that the bikes are now e-bikes.
In order to use the system, you have to register as a user online, and use a credit card. This site gives some instructions in english of how to go about this, but the menus seem to have changed a bit since the webpage was put up.
This is how the webpage at docomo-cycle.jp looks like on my phone. Click on the button to login, and then it will take you to the registration page.
The login page page has a “register” button.
and then you’ll go through a series of pages like this one where you enter your account information. One note is that your password has to be at least 8 alphanumeric characters with at least one number and one letter.
I’m already forgetting the details of the pages, but one thing that I can say is that it took my Canadian credit card number, my Canadian phone number (entered as +1416xxxxxxx) and a random Japanese style zipcode. Once you register, you will get an email. At the same time, look for the option to register a membership card (such as PASMO), and then you will get a second email with an 8 digit code that you will use once to register the card.
There is an alternative option to reserve a bike at a particular station, and you will get a shorter number code that has to be used with a particular bike. This would be a hassle as each of the stations that I saw had many bikes. To finish registering the card, you go up to a bike, press START and then ENTER, enter the code and then put the card on the reader. The prompts will appear briefly in both Japanese and English.
Here we’re ready to go.
Yes, the bikes are still Bridgestone, but the e-drive was labeled Yamaha.
Here is the control panel. The green button turns the system on, the up and down arrows toggle the motor between strong, medium and “eco” modes. I used strong. The black button toggles the display between %battery, remaining range in km, and speed.
This was my first time on a pedalec and it was a revelation. The system applies quite a bit of torque upon launch, so it was very easy to accelerate from a standstill. We made the 1.5 km ride to the subway station in record time, and with no sweating.
When you dock the bike, you have to look for the green LED’s to light up to show you that the bike is registered with the local wifi associated with the station. Once you see the green light, you can engage the wheel lock, and then you are done. You don’t have to dock the bike at a rack, since the racks are just simple wheel holders.
Here is the entrance to the underground bike parking at Toyosu station (some of us were not on rental bikes).
and the bike turnstiles.
Destination was Shibuya, and for me, that means Tokyu Hands.
Just a few pictures of the bike area.
also some leather hairnets from Rin Project.
Tokyu hands has almost everything that you can imagine for sale. Here are some shells to save you the trouble of beachcombing.
After some more shopping, we walked south to the trendy Daikanyama neighbourhood. We came upon the Log Road development, which is a new strip of shops on land that became available when a section of the Toyoko line was shifted underground several years ago. This was an incredible civil engineering project, where the actual shift of the tracks was done in the four hours between the last train at 1 am, and the first the same morning at 5 am.
Here are a few stylish but very heavy designer kid bikes. If you want a kid bike that has a Jones H bar styled handlebars, this is your place.
The southwest end of the development is anchored by the Spring Valley Brewery.
Through the windows, you can see where the rail line goes underground.
The brew pub itself was very modern, and it was packed. We were lucky to get in without a reservation.
These tanks were named Schroeder, Linus and Lucy.
and this is a flight of today’s beers.
My favourite was the second one from the right “Daydream” which was scented with yuzu, as well as a peppery seasoning.
You can also choose to have a few of the beers infused with flavour. Here is a beer being infused with cilantro. Fun, but not to my taste.
The food here was also very good. This was our last course.
Afterwards we walked around more shops in the area.
This doesn’t look like a real Surly.
A bike with space to carry a purse built into the frame.
An e-bike store. Now I know the word for a pedalec is ‘denchari’.
Nearby was an elaborate branch of the Tsutaya bookstore. Here, for example, is an entire wall of fountain pens on display and for sale.
Heading home, we are back at the bike parking to retrieve two kid bikes.
A touch of the PASMO card unlocks a bike.
This is a bad picture, so you can’t see that I’m starting off with 7% charge. I was told that this was not unusual late in the day (it was about 8:30 pm) and that batteries get swapped out for new ones each night.
Once again, when dropping off the bike, make sure you see the green LEDs, then lock the bike, and press ENTER and you are done.
The e-bikes certainly made the trip easier: each way they turned what would have been a hot, sweaty 15 minute walk into a 5 minute easy ride.
Postscript: for 5 single trips over three days, I was charged 150 yen each, which totalled 810 yen including the consumption tax. Also you will get an email in Japanese updating your status every time you check out or check in. They are going to try to have good English translation for all steps in the process before the 2020 Olympics roll around.