Buying and Using a Bicycle in Kyoto
One of the most useful things to have in Kyoto is a Bicycle. With a bicycle, you can go almost anywhere in Kyoto. However, it should be remembered that cyclists must obey traffic rules alongside everyone else (some of which will also be explained below).
There are many kinds of bicycles with different price. A lot of bicycle stores around Kyoto University sells both new and secondhand bicycles. You can also find secondhand bicycles for sale online (such as in Facebook) offered by people who are about to leave Kyoto for good. I personally recommend buying a secondhand bicycle because it is less expensive than the new one yet it is in mint condition. Even so, you still need to be careful in choosing a secondhand bicycle in order to get the best one.
For students, it is recommended to get a bicycle with a basket. A big basket is useful for carrying heavy bags while commuting to and from university. You can also use the basket to carry groceries and other stuff that are too heavy to carry on your back.
Aside from the bicycle price itself, it is also necessary to pay for the certificate registration. This usually costs 500 yen and is done at the bicycle shop. It is compulsory to register the identity of the bicycle owner and the data can be used by the police in the unlikely event of the bicycle being stolen. If you buy or receive a bicycle from someone else, this procedure is also necessary and can also be done in any bicycle shop.
After getting a bicycle, a second thing that you need is a bicycle lock. To prevent bicycle theft, sometimes having two locks are recommended. Another thing that is needed is insurance. For international students, insurance is provided by the Kyoto University Co-op which can be registered in the Co-op building in Yoshida South Campus.
Bicycle rules in Kyoto are not complicated. Basically, you can ride your bicycle on the section of the road closest to the pedestrian section or on the pedestrian section itself depending on the road sign. In some pedestrian sections, it is not allowed for bicycles for passing, so it is important to keep an eye on the road signs.
When it is raining, riding a bicycle is a bit more difficult than usual because it is a nuisance (and not allowed) holding an umbrella. It is better and recommended using a raincoat. You can get it in places such as convenience stores (or コンビニ) or any other stores depending on the type of raincoats you are looking for.
For parking, usually there are a lot of bicycle parking areas. However, there are certain spots on the pedestrian section where bicycle parking is forbidden. If you park in these areas, the city authorities might take away your bike and you have to go through certain procedures to get them back.
Having a bicycle is very useful when living in Kyoto. Not only is it less expensive than public transport (after the total cost is calculated), it is also a convenient way of moving about in Kyoto. Because of this it is highly recommended to use bicycle for daily life in Kyoto while studying in Kyoto University.
〈written by Kyoto iUP student in the Department of Industrial Chemistry, Faculty of Engineering〉