I biked a lot when I stayed in Japan for long periods in four separate periods. These include a 35-day stint in Tokyo, 3 years in Yokohama, and 1.5-month and 3-month stays in Saitama. What I discovered was a safe environment for cycling where motorists generally respect cyclists using the road and sharing road space is a given. I could even use the sidewalk and share it with pedestrians. People seemed to know how to position themselves and respect each others’ right to use facilities, giving way to each other.
Here’s a link to a nice article a friend shared on social media:
My friend also resided in Japan for a few years where I’m sure he also used a bicycle to get around. Hopefully, we can be like the Japanese in terms of how people respect each others’ right to travel as well as one’s choice of transport mode. While it would be nice to have bike lanes (and protected ones at that) this exclusiveness is not an assurance that a similar culture of sharing and respect will develop. Is it a culture thing? Do we need to be encouraged (or forced) to modify behavior? These are but a few questions that need answers and not just by the typical “if you build them, they will come” statement that seems to have become a mantra for hardliners. A more holistic approach is required and it does not come as a surprise that basic transport infrastructure and more efficient services are necessary prerequisite to achieve such a sharing and respectful society.