7月 15



Figure 1 – View of POROCLE’s station in Sapporo (photo by M. Matsumoto, June/2010)

What is it ?

Named after “SapPORO CyCLE”, POROCLE is the bike-sharing system of Sapporo City (Hokkaido, Japan), which started in 2009 as short-term ‘social experiences’ under the coordination of Docon Ltd, an engineering consulting company. Later, in 2010, NTT Docomo – one of the leading mobile phone operators in Japan – joined forces with Docon to conduct a larger scale 4-month-long experience which has launched in June 2010 with 6 stations and 50 bicycles and is to be expanded to 15 stations and 100 bicycles. An estimated 2500 users are expected this time.


The goals of POROCLE are threefold: first, to reduce illegal bicycle parking, which is a serious problem in Japan since cycles are so numerous; second, to induce modal shift from automobiles, therefore lowering CO2 emissions; and finally, to revitalize Sapporo’s city center, by making it more attractive.

Also, it must be said that Docon and NTT Docomo see a potential for bike-sharing in Japan as business.


POROCLE’s bike-sharing technology was developed under the supervision of Docon. It is a third-generation bike-sharing system [1], using bicycles that can be found in the market (Bridgestone Mariposa). Stations are solar/battery powered, and users identify with a contactless IC card. Bicycles are locked through the front wheel in a not so theft-proof way when compared to other systems around the globe. Although, in Japan it seems to be sufficient, as no bicycles have yet been stolen or vandalized from POROCLE.

An evolution of POROCLE’s technology is being prepared, with a specially designed bike and more high-tech stations, to be deployed in the next steps of the project.

Different kinds of bike-sharing

In 2009 two types of ‘social experiences’ on bike-sharing were conducted by Docon. In the first one, that lasted 19 days, all racks were located in a single spot, the Shin-sapporo railway station, and round trips were targeted. Bikes were shared between nearby residents and people who work or study around the station. The formers kept the bikes at home during the night, while the latters kept them at work/school during the day. This was only possible because the area around Shin-Sapporo station has mixed land use.

The second experience, on the other hand, consisted of the more popular bike-sharing type, where one-way trips are allowed, and bikes are not to be kept by users for a long time. 7 stations, with 70 racks and 50 bicycles, were deployed in the city center within 1km from Sapporo station during 12 days. An approximate 250 people used the bicycles.

From the positive outcome of these 2 experiences, Docon has concluded that bike-sharing has enough potential to serve as an transportation alternative in Sapporo. 2010’s experience, then, follows the second experience’s type, but in larger scale as mentioned above. Tariffs follow world bike-sharing trend: a basic fee allows access to the system, and bikes can then be used freely for 30 minutes (table 1)

Plan Fare
Single-time use ¥50 / 30 minutes
Daily pass ¥200 / day 30 free minutes per bike rent; ¥100 per additional 30 minutes; ¥2000 maximum fee.
Monthly pass ¥500 / month


Even though POROCLE is seen by Docon and NTT Docomo as having a lot of potential, it is not yet clear how economic feasibility will be assured. The business model that has been widely spread, consisting of funding bike-sharing through outdoor advertisement, is not believed to be prosperous. A different strategy is being considered: providing users with information on nearby shops and restaurants via mobile phone. Revenue could then be drawn from partnership with these local commerces. Docon also believes that feasibility depends on government subsidy for covering the initial implementation costs.

Furthermore, other issues must be addressed before proceeding to a permanent bike-sharing in Sapporo, such as reducing operational costs and defining the collaboration framework with stakeholders like the City Hall, who hasn’t yet participated in POROCLE.

Figure 2 – Station Map of POROCLE in Sapporo (source:, June/2010)


1)      Paul DeMaio. (2009). Bike-sharing: History, Impacts, Models of Provision, and Future. Journal of Public Transportation. 12 (4), 41-56.

2) Accessed on June/2010.

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7月 15

Toyama’s Cyclocity


Figure 1 – View of Cyclocity’s station in Toyama (photo by H.Morii, June/2010)


After getting famous around the globe as the leading 3rd generation bike-sharing company, Cyclocity arrived in Japan as a company 100% owned by MCDecaux (joint venture of japanese Mitsubishi Corporation and french JCDecaux). Launched on March 2010, Toyama’s bike-sharing program consists of 150 bicycles and 270 racks distributed in 15 stations around the city center. As one of Toyama’s steps towards becoming a Compact City [1], bike-sharing should promote reduction of the number of short car trips (and thus CO2 emissions) and revitalization of the city center through improving mobility within it.


Toyama is a 420,000 people city located at the Sea of Japan side of central Japan, in the Honshu Island. The city is very sprawled and car-dependant, which is neither good for the environment or for mobility. To counter this, the ‘Toyama Compact City’ program was launched: adensation of population in the city center and around main public transportation routes is being encouraged, the city center is being revitalized and public transportation itself is being improved.

Figure 2 – Station Map of Cyclocity in Toyama (source:

Funding and Agreement

City officials visited Barcelona in 2008 to see Bicing, its bike-sharing program, and started to consider how to bring the idea to Toyama. Clear Channel – Bicing’s operator – having dropped out of the japanese market, the City approached MCDecaux with an offer: the city would give subsidy for all the infrastructure needed (including the cost of bikes and stations) up to ¥150,000,000 (about 1.5MUS$) if they brought Cyclocity to Toyama. A 20-year agreement was signed on that basis, and Cyclocity was also given the right to keep user fees and commercialize advertisement space in 30 panels of 2m² scattered around the city center.

The subsidy came as a grant from Japan’s Ministry of Environment, after Toyama being designated in 2008 as one of Japan’s six Eco-Model cities for its Compact City program.


Toyama Cyclocity’s technology is the 3rd generation system [2] that has been extensely tested and improved in more than 20 cities in the world, including the reknown Vélib’ in Paris. Station and bicycle design was slightly adapted to cope with Toyama’s identity, and Japanese laws – bicycles had to get slimmer. Users identify with a contactless IC card in the terminal or directly in the racks, which are all equipped with a card reading device, thus avoiding queues. Bicycles are identified via RFID technology installed in the locking device, and stations are all linked via GPRS wireless technology to a data center. This ITS (information technology system) provides real time information on how full are stations at each time, and collects usage data that is useful for posterior analysis.


As of June 2010 the tariffs for Toyama Cyclocity were as indicated in table 1 below. Users of public transportation can use their IC card (PASSCA) to subscribe to the system for a lower price.

Type of pass Basic fee Guaranty Usage fee
7 day pass ¥1000 ¥25,000 (only debited if the bike is not returned within 24h 0 – 30min: free 30min – 1h: ¥200

Each additional 30min : ¥500

1 year pass ¥700/month
1 year pass using PASSCA ¥500/month


1) Kiyoshi TAKAMI and Kiichiro HATOYAMA. (2008). Chapter 10: Sustainable Regeneration of a Car-dependent City: The Case of Toyama toward a Compact City. In: Kidokoro, T and Harata, N. Sustainable city regions: space, place and governance. Japan: Springer. p182-199

2)      Paul DeMaio. (2009). Bike-sharing: History, Impacts, Models of Provision, and Future. Journal of Public Transportation. 12 (4), 41-56.

3) Accessed on June/2010.

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