Yesterday evening on the way home I caught Adachi-ku’s bicycle parking enforcers in action:
|From Adachi-ku bicycle parking enforcers|
The open area outside Ayase Station’s east exit is normally filled with illegally parked bikes (because it basically serves no other function). As in most areas, Adachi-ku bans bike parking near stations except in designated parking lots (there is one that’s free of charge on the south side and several fee-based ones). But in reality, most of the time the only thing stopping people from parking in this area are some old men in yellow vests (apparently officially sanctioned volunteers) who verbally warn people not to park there (even as 5 others are parking their bikes directly behind them).
But about once a week the enforcers come around, and it’s on these days that the park becomes oddly bike-free. On this Saturday in particular I was walking in an area that’s usually so flooded with bikes it’s impossible to walk through comfortably, but when the enforcers came around there were only two or three bikes to be found. Somehow everyone seems to know what day the enforcers will be there.
According to the Adachi-ku homepage, the district only enforces bicycle parking within a 300-meter radius of train stations, as those are the places where offenders concentrate.
If your bicycle is caught by the enforcer’s net outside Ayase Station, you must make your way to the Kita-Ayase relocation center (on foot, presumably). To retrieve a bike that’s been confiscated will cost you 2,000 yen and require you to produce proof that you own the bike along with a working key. Act fast, though – bikes in custody for two months will be “disposed with.” While I don’t know exactly what Adachi-ku does with the orphaned bikes, many abandoned bicycles nationwide end up exported to North Korea, so if you don’t want to fund Kim Jong Il’s regime, you need to retrieve your bike as soon as possible!
A Yomiuri photo of bicycles slated for export.
The Wikipedia article on this issue makes an interesting point – in most cases, there are more people who benefit from illegal bike parking than who are adversely affected by it. No one might be explicitly advocating that bikes should be permitted to park wherever they want, but the fact remains that the fee-based parking lots are expensive and often inconvenient. This means that politicians have a hard time taking decisive action as it would upset the population.