In June 2010 employees of Saitama Prefectural Government and the Saitama Risona Bank set up a communal bike share scheme called ‘E-cycle Sharing Saitama’ with the aim of reducing CO2 emissions by encouraging the switch from cars to bikes.
The scheme currently has thirty bicycles which can be used and dropped off to one of eleven locations around Saitama City. Employees can apply to use the bicycles at government offices or at branches of the Risona Bank. The location of free bikes can be checked in real time through accessing the E-cycle Sharing Saitama website on either PCs or mobile phones.
The scheme also allows for one way trips, making it easy for those using the bikes to switch to trains or other forms of transport after using the bikes.
After one month there were around 300 people using the E-cycle Sharing Saitama scheme, and the total distance travelled by the bikes themselves was around 20,000km.
Saitama Prefecture citizens own more bicycles than anywhere else in Japan, and the scheme is not only good for the environment, as well as being economically effective, but has also been linked to improved employee health.
Source: ‘Observation of the Forty-seven Prefectures’ (Todoufu-ken tenbou) magazine August 2010 no.623.