Besides office workers on the go, bicycles are particularly popular among housewives and students commuting to school or running daily errands. The most common two-wheeler category among Japanese cyclists was the so called mamachari (“mom’s bike”), a general utility bicycle, often equipped with a basket and up to two child seats. As of 2019, e-bikes were the third most popular bicycle type, with almost 10 percent of bicycle owners in Japan opting for the motorized version.
Electric power assist bicycles largely attract elderly consumers, who benefit from having to use less physical strength to navigate their daily life on a bicycle. Sales figures for e-bikes in Japan have kept growing over the past years, reflecting an ongoing demand not only among elderly consumers, but a more general target group.
While Japan’s overall production volume of bicycles displayed a downward trend in recent years, figures for 2019 suggest a reversion of this. The same development is true for bicycle imports into the country, playing into the assumption that cycling is re-gaining its popularity among Japanese consumers.
Another factor contributing to a rising demand in bicycles can be traced back to the emerging transportation sharing market in Japan. In recent years, a growing number of Japanese cities have started to offer bicycle sharing services, making alternative and budget friendly mobility options more accessible to a wide audience.
With an increased availability of bicycle riding options, safety became a vital issue. More than 60 percent of Japanese cyclists claimed to have experienced near accidents while riding a bike. The majority of bicycle accidents in Japan were caused by road users being negligent towards the traffic situation. However, the overall number of accidents involving bicycles decreased from almost 25 thousand in 2009 to approximately 16 thousand cases in 2019, with a slight rise reported in recent years.
While the use of helmets is optional in Japan, the country does have a nationwide mandatory registration process for bicycles in place, with local governments progressively enforcing compulsory liability insurances for cyclists.