On Jan. 24, a full-page advert appeared in the Tokyo edition of the Yomiuri Shimbun for a petition on behalf of the capital's cyclists. "Join the new governor in making Tokyo a bicycle city," read the headline for the ad, which reeled off a series of suggested improvements: more extensive cycling lanes, better parking facilities and the creation of a public bike-sharing scheme akin to the ones used in London and Paris.
Shigeki Kobayashi, president of the Bicycle Usage Promotion Study Group and one of the petition's organizers, admits that they pinched the idea from London, where a similar campaign took place during the 2012 mayoral election. Tokyo's own gubernatorial election campaign had kicked off the day before the advert was published, and the effect was instantaneous.
"I listened to a lot of the hustings later in the day," Kobayashi says. "Suddenly, all the candidates had started talking about cycling."