By: James Hadfield | Dec 10, 2009 | No Comments | 3,405 views
Photo by James Hadfield

Photo by James Hadfield

“There aren’t many rental services in Tokyo that give you complete freedom,” says Hiroaki Ehira, the CEO of Omnifox. The Iidabashi-based IT consulting firm last year branched out into an altogether different line of business: renting bicycles.

Coolbike lets you borrow compact folding bikes for a flat rate of ¥2,000 per day. For an extra ¥2,000, they’ll deliver your ride to hotels in Shinjuku, Chiyoda, Bunkyo, Minato and Chuo wards, and pick it up again at the end of the day.

While such services are commonplace in tourist hotspots like Kyoto, they’re still hard to come by in Tokyo. Ehira reports that the majority of their customers so far have been sightseers, both foreign and Japanese. The fledgling operation was given a boost recently when it was featured in the travel section of The New York Times.

“I think the bike boom’s going to continue,” he says. “Until now, most cities have been very focused on cars, but people’s thinking is starting to change. They’re realizing it’s not necessary to build roads just for automobiles. We need to start creating a better environment.” A better environment with more bikes, that is.



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