Dear Fuji-san…

Opinions Trends & Culture - February 17th, 1989
tokyoweekender_Mike_Marklew

…from Mike Marklew

Two-wheel terror

I’m in a foul mood. Saw a foreigner bowled over by a pushbike in front of a police box and heard the kindly officer explain to the cyclist. “Gaijin have no road sense.”

During my life, I’ve driven almost every type of conveyance. From a left foot operated two-wheel scooter which used to terrify the natives around the compound I once lived in, in India, to a 20-ton, geophysical exploration “Weight Truck” which had a similar effect on the populace of small towns, as far apart as Jeddah, Saudi Arabia and Yanchep in Western Australia.

Went through the motor bike craze in the UK at the age of 18 with a 1945 Harley David­son. (750 ccs, foot clutch and hand gear change.) I fitted it with a sidecar after it fell over once and it took me and two mates to stand it back up. Even then, had to fill the sidecar with house bricks to hold the ruddy thing down on swift corners.

I’ve been at the controls of bulldozers, a reindeer powered sled, a horse and even a steam roller. Assorted cars have also rolled through my life, varying in quality to match my income at the time. But, by far the most satisfying mode of personal transport to me has always been the humble bicycle — except in this country.

Japanese motorists ignore pedestrians and bikes so these travelers must use the sidewalk.

In this land of no space, the houses are built-right to the edge of the property. Where there are walkways, the buildings and crash rail are cheek by jowl and the gap is hardly enough to allow a native through, let alone folk my girth.

Strolling my neighborhood with Alice and Eddie in tow, I have to keep telling them to keep their arms by their sides to avoid fingers getting scythed off by the bikes whizzing by.

Boadicea’s chariot had nothing on the average Japanese on a velocipede.

Let’s banish them onto the roads.

If it ever happens, I think I’ll start to ride mine along the footpath — humans are softer to hit than cars.

That’s road sense — isn’t it !!!

Yoroshiku,

MIKE