Cycling in Kobe

ByJustin Hanus
Jan 18, 2019

Cycling in Kobe

Japan is a bike-friendly country and many of its roads accommodate for cyclists with bike lanes. Cycling is a nice way of getting around, whether that be travelling from A to B or simply seeing the sights. If you want to cycle in Kobe, there are plenty of outlets where you can rent or buy a bicycle as well as some nice scenic cycling routes. Here is a quick and convenient guide for anyone who would like to pursue the two-wheeled option of navigating the city.

Cycling rules and safety tips in Japan

Before you get on a bike in Japan, it’s important to familiarize yourself with the country’s bicycle laws and do all you can to keep yourself safe. Here are some of the basics:

  • Ride on the left side of the road
  • Ride at a sensible pace and yield to pedestrians on sidewalks
  • Use headlights and rear lights if cycling during the evening
  • Children under the age of 13 should wear a helmet, and it’s advisable for adults to wear a helmet too
  • Talking on the phone or listening to music while riding a bike is prohibited
  • Riding side by side on the roads is not permitted unless there is a sign saying it’s allowed

Penalties for disobeying the cycling laws in Japan include:

  • Maximum penalty of 50,000 yen and/or three months in prison for riding dangerously or with broken brakes
  • Maximum penalty of 1 million yen and/or five years in prison for riding while drunk
  • Maximum penalty of 20,000 yen for carrying an illegal passenger
  • Maximum penalty of 50,000 yen for not using lights at night
  • Maximum penalty of 50,000 yen for disobeying traffic lights

Keep your bike safe by locking it when it’s not in use. Many Japanese bikes come with small locks built into the wheels. Also, if you buy a bike, make sure you register it in your name at the police department of your prefecture.

Renting or buying a bike in Kobe

It’s not difficult to get hold of a bicycle in Kobe. Renting is a good option if you just want to use a bike on the odd occasion or don’t have the storage space for one at home. There are a few bike rental places in the city. Kobelin rents bikes through cycle ports (there are 10 in the city) for prices that start at 100 yen per hour. Just register on the website and you’ll be given a password to use at any of the ports. Bikes are fitted with electric pedal-assisted motors that make them ideal for long distances. Spark Scone and Bicycle offers bike rents along with tea and scones. It’s a cafe that’s an 8-minute walk from the Kobe municipal subway. You can rent bikes online and then pick them up/return them to the cafe (by 5:00 p.m. at the latest). Costs range from 1,400 yen a day for a 6-speed bike to 2,800 yen for a tandem. Globalwheels is based in Osaka but offers a delivery service and has a wide range of bikes available from 2,800 yen a day.

If you prefer to buy your own bike, there are several cycle shops in Kobe such as Cycle Base Asahi that sell a range of bicycles. Prices range greatly. A rough price guide is:

City bikes – from 12,000 yen to 80,000 yen
Electric bikes – from 75,000 yen to 400,000 yen
Sports bikes and mountain bikes – from 15,000 yen to 900,000 yen
Folding bikes – from 10,000 yen to 350,000 yen

Many bike shops also offer cycle maintenance and parts replacement should you need anything. Stores such as Yamada Bicycle offer permanent free maintenance for any bikes bought from their store.

Kobe routes

If you fancy getting out and really exploring Kobe and beyond by bicycle, there are some great routes that take you through or past some of the city’s many visual attractions. You can cycle to some of the nearby cities if you have a bit of time on your hands. Kobe to Osaka is 34 km while Kobe to Kyoto is 65 km and a bit more of a test as it’s hilly in parts.

You can find local routes, trails and courses of all kinds at these websites:

わたらせみずほ [CC BY-SA 3.0], via Wikimedia Commons

About the author

Justin Hanus editor