Home > Focus on Japan 2007 > Parking in Shinjuku

Parking in Shinjuku

April 23rd, 2007

It used to be that you could park just about anywhere in Shinjuku on a scooter. Just go up to the sidewalk and park it alongside bicycles, no problem. And it didn’t really cause any more problems than bicycles alone. It was one of the best things about riding a scooter–the convenience and efficiency should you want to shop here, check out that over there.

Just a little more than a year ago, I posted on the fact that tickets for parking violations would soon shift from police administration to private contractors, and predicted that it would lead to wanton ticketing–not to clear the streets or to benefit the public in any way, but rather purely as a way to make money.

Well, I was right. The new parking police have gone way too far. I noticed this when I found that I could not even park my scooter in front of my own workplace, where the sidewalk is very broad (about 4 meters) and there has always been plenty of space, no problem parking there. No mess, no inconvenience to anyone. It’s not a busy area, not a business district, and there’s no reason why people can’t park.

Then my students started getting ticketed for parking their motorcycles in front of the school. I was lucky to avoid that before I caught on that there was ticketing now in force; one of my students got two tickets (which equals four points off his license and $200~$300 in fines).

I also noticed that if I tried to park in Nishi-Shinjuku, roving bands (four people per group) of the new parking police were going up and down the street, issuing tickets with abandon. And just tonight, on a Monday night after 7:00 pm in a far corner of Kabukicho where my co-workers had come to meet, I wanted to park–and found a gang of ticketers right where I figured I’d saddle up for a few hours. Swell. Worse: no legal parking places for bikes within easy walking distance. Lots of places for cars to park, but not bikes.

What’s worse than that is that the ticketers seem to be focusing on ticketing motorized bikes (scooters and motorcycles); I haven’t seen them molesting cars yet, though there are plenty parked illegally virtually everywhere.

I knew it was a bad idea when I heard of it, and it’s even worse than I thought in execution. I’m just going to have to give up shopping in Shinjuku if I have my scooter.

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  1. Tim Kane
    April 24th, 2007 at 11:08 | #1

    Perhaps you might mention this to some of the local merchants who’s business you will no longer be patronizing.

    This is the kind of thing that can and should set alot of people off, and cause some legislators to lose their jobs if not corrected forthwith.

  2. Stuart Gibson
    April 24th, 2007 at 14:24 | #2

    Getting points for parking tickets is ridiculous! Parking violations don’t mean that you are a bad driver or deserve to have your license taken from you. In a city where commercial trucks park in the middle of the street, it seems crazy to expect perfect parking behavior among the other residents.

    Also the lack of scooter parking brings up something I have noticed in Tokyo — whenever there is a sign saying “No Bicycle Parking” I see about 50 bicycles left in that spot. It makes me wonder if these signs are put up for the real issue of bikes etc. getting in the way of access, or if they are put there to justify harassment and so that tickets can be given out.

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