Originally published at LetsJapan, October 2, 2009

Community bicycles intended for short distance travel are now available in downtown Tokyo. The Community Cycle program trial is sponsored by Japan Travel Bureau and the Japan Ministry of the Environment.

Five Eco-Port community bicycle lots will be set up about 300 meters apart in the experiment area that covers small parts of the Otemachi, Marunouchi, and Yurakucho business districts in Chiyoda Ward, Tokyo. The route is between Tokyo station and the grounds of the Imperial Palace. Eighty-five bicycles are available for rental. The bicycles can be dropped off at any Eco-Port lot.

Riders must first register at the JTB branch in Marunouchi or at Travel Gate in Yurakucho. Registration requires the rider’s credit card number for purposes of preventing theft of the bicycles. If the bicycle is not returned within 24 hours, the user’s credit card will be charged for the cost of the bike. The registration fee is JPY1000.

The first 30 minutes of bike use is free. After 30 minutes, it costs JPY100 per 10 minutes. If bicycles are kept longer than 3 hours, the cost rises to JPY100 per 5 minutes.

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To rent a bicycle, users swipe a contactless card over a terminal at each bike. When the card is verified, the parking port device releases the bicycle. The system utilitzes FeliCa contactless IC cards, FeliCa-equipped cellphones, or the special community bicycle contactless IC card issued by JTB.

Enrollment campaigns will target corporations located in the Otemachi and Marunouchi areas.

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