McDonald’s voucher given for bike locking in Japan

Have you ever been offered a McDonald’s drink voucher for locking your bike?

Well, if you are a student in Tokyo’s Adachi Ward, that is exactly what you can expect from November 2023.

Japan (and Tokyo) have long had a problem with cyclists leaving their bikes unlocked. In fact most of the bikes stolen in Tokyo had been left unlocked. Teenagers, especially, have long ignored attempts to encourage them to lock their bikes in Tokyo’s Adachi Ward.

Now, as reported by the Asahi Shimbun website, “the municipality has earmarked 55,000 yen” towards a new McDonald’s drink voucher project. Students will be handed out drink discount vouchers for successfully locking their bikes and schools will also be visited to offer bike security advice.

Whilst thousands of bikes are stolen in Tokyo each year, it’s still classed as a relatively safe location compared to other large cities around the world, such as London. In Tokyo, cycling is also a major transport method and is part of everyday life for all age ranges across its large population. Many don’t currently lock their bikes, and if they do then built-in rear wheel/frame locks are the most common bike locks.

Bikes in Japan

Since 1994 bike registration has been a mandatory requirement for bike owners in Japan (which strictly covers both new and used bikes), so bikes are very traceable by the police if found, which adds to the reassuring safety culture in Japan.

Throughout 2023 Japan has been rolling out other cycling focused and crime reduction initiatives.

In March 2023 the Japan Times reported that wearing helmets had become mandatory (or actively encouraged) for all cyclists following analysis into the fatality rate for those not wearing helmets. The Adachi Ward in Tokyo has stepped up to provide their residents with discounts to ease the financial burden of this change.

In May 2023 the Mainichi reported that the Aichi Prefectural Police conducted a trial of putting tags on bikes, with warnings such as ‘subject to theft tracking’ to make thieves think twice before stealing a bike. Whilst the trial was small, it saw an 80% drop in stolen bikes.