What is the National Cycle Route?

While riding a bicycle is fun to do in itself, taking a cycling tour of
the countryside is an excellent way to enjoy the charms of the route.
Today, all around Japan, the public and private sectors are collaborating
to use cycling to promote regional tourism.
The National Cycle Route scheme is a scheme in which the national
government designates routes that meet certain standards from both
tangible and intangible perspectives, and market them in Japan and
overseas as world-class cycling routes that showcase Japan.
The objective of the scheme is to revitalize regional areas by strongly
promoting cycling tourism. This will be done by creating new tourism value in
Japan from excellent tourism resources, bringing together
various approaches such as riding
environments, rest and accommodation functions,
and dissemination of information.

National Cycle Route
Network Map

National Cycle Route
Network Map

Requirements for Designation as a National Cycle Route

The following requirements have been established for designation as a National Cycle Route from the perspectives of route establishment, riding environment, hosting environment, information dissemination, and initiative frameworks.

  • Perspectives

    Specified Requirements

  • Establishment of Route

    Safe and attractive route that is able to contribute to the promotion of cycling tourism

  • Riding Environment
    • Environment in which anyone can ride safely and comfortably
    • Environment in which anyone can ride with peace of mind, without getting lost
  • Hosting Environment
    • “Gateways” for cyclists with bike amenities are accessible via other modes of transport.
    • Rest facilities that cyclists can use at any time
    • Alternative transport services that allow cyclists to move while carrying their bicycles paralleled with the route
    • Accommodation facilities for cyclists to stay overnight with peace of mind
    • Facilities and programs to help cyclists to enjoy the charms of the region to the fullest and contribute to regional promotion
    • Repair facilities, etc. that can assist cyclists with bicycle trouble
    • Systems and facilities for support in an emergency
  • Information Dissemination

    Facilities, systems, and the like that offer information that can be easily obtained at any time

  • Initiative Frameworks

    The necessary initiative frameworks have been established for maintaining the standard of the cycling environment through public-private partnerships

  • 〇 The assessment items and criteria in the requirements for designation include mandatory assessment criteria that must be met by National Cycling Routes.
  • 〇 Other recommended assessment criteria have also been established that it is preferred that cycling routes meet to encourage initiatives aimed at further improvement of the cycling environment.
  • 〇 It is a basic requirement that all mandatory assessment criteria be met to obtain designation.

Examples of Mandatory Criteria

  • ・ The route must be at least 100 km long (excluding cases in which the route is on an island).
  • ・ Bicycle riding spaces must be established with the use of nationally standardized shared lane markings installed on the left edge of the vehicle lane, or other types of bikeways, etc.
  • ・ Road markings and signs for route navigation must be established.
  • ・ A “gateway” to the cycle route must be established at a railway station, etc. This will include bicycle rental facilities, changing rooms, etc.
  • ・ Cycle stations must be established approximately every 20 km along the route.
  • ・ Accommodation facilities for cyclists must be available close to the route approximately every 60 km.
  • ・ Information must be disseminated via websites and other sources in at least Japanese and English.

Examples of Recommended Criteria

  • ・ The route should avoid sections with continuous steep inclines.
  • ・ There should be train, bus or ferry services that allow cyclists to board with bicycles available.
  • ・ Tour guiding, etc. should be conducted (in at least Japanese and English)
  • 〇 Additional initiatives for the further improvement of the cycling environment may be set as criteria for designation.