鉄道は、たくさんの人たちをつないでくれる「道」だと思います。 This is a blog about railways in Japan and around the world by an enthusiast.
A charm of cycling in Japan (3): Jiyugaoka, practically car-free commercial town in Tokyo
Jiyugaoka 自由が丘 in Tokyo is commercially very fashionable and high-quality prosperity in compact urban spaces. In this Christmas season, Jiyugaoka is very lively especially by female shoppers and couples. There are many relaxing open café shops which are not yet very common in other Japanese towns regrettably, brand stores, good restaurants, craft work designing shops and so forth.
Almost all visitors gather Jiyugaoka by train, bicycle or on foot. Official survey will not exist but more than 90 percent of them came here without using cars at a rough estimate. The number of passengers using Jiyugaoka station of Tokyu Toyoko line or Oimachi line is more than 100,000 per day, although this is not a very significant number in the standard of Tokyo metropolitan railways.
I have described Jiyugaoka as “practically” car-free town because official regulations against cars here are relatively not very strong except car banning (“hokosha tengoku” 歩行者天国, literally pedestrian’s paradise) in very central area near station in weekend daytime. Some cars visit here but most people hesitate to do so due to highly developed public rail and bus transport by private Tokyu company, narrow roads and lack of parking.
One notable fact is that the development and success of this Jiyugaoka has been achieved by private railway company Tokyu and not by the initiative of public administrations. The initial start of Jiyugaoka’s urban development is the open of railway station in 1927. Later local residents have well collaborated together to activation of this town.
As I have mentioned in other articles, bicycle regulations in Japan have plenty of room for improvement unlike already advanced countries like Nederland, Germany and others. The unorganized bicycle parking is a typical example.