Top Ten Reasons Why I Love Riding My Bicycle in Japan
10. When you ride on the sidewalk, you often rattle the bricks that make it up.
9. Riders RULE! Bike riders actually have the legal right of way over cars!
8. When you get hit by a car, you can get a new bike! (Use this one carefully.*)
7. Multi-tasking! You can ride two on a bike, smoke a cigarette, email on your cell phone, hold an umbrella and breast-feed a child while riding a bike.
6. The unpredictability of old ladies on mama-cha-ri-bikes. They hop off their bikes at random, swerve, turn without looking and leap into ongoing traffic. (How did they ever survive to get old?)
5. The predictability of young punks on a bike. They hop off their bikes, swerve, turn without looking and leap into ongoing traffic at random. (How will they ever survive to get older?)
4. You can park at a convenience store, go inside and read a magazine for 30 minutes and your bike will still be there. (No wait, that's for cars, you CAN idle for 30 minutes and no one will steal your car, but bikes get ripped off all the time.)
3. Though bicycles have the right-of-way, cars will nudge their way into an intersection, completely ignoring the safety of the white line or run a red light! (Sorry, that's on my list of why I hate riding in Japan.)
2. Riding home from a late night at the pub at 4:30am and the sun is rising!
AND The #1 Thing I Love About Riding a Bike in Japan is:
Sneaking up behind my students on my way home from school and yelling "Bye Bye!" They then squeal, "びっくりした" (Bikkurishita! = I am surprised) and proceed to respond with "バイバイ" (Bai Bai=bye-bye) in perfect harmony!
*#8 did happen to me. We were both at fault (perhaps I was more at fault) and when I drove into this lady's car and totalled my bike, the cops ruled that it should be settled out of court. Thus she paid for my hospital bills (really sore shoulder, nothing broken) and I got a 300$ Mountain Bike for free! I don't recommend this as a frequent way to upgrade your bike though.
Everyone I know has one or two bicycle stories in Japan, please relay them to me and I'll enlighten the masses.