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 , 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: en.cyclocity.jp)
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  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) http://en.cyclocity.jp/Toyama. Accessed on June/2010.