Last month, I wrote a letter to the planning section at Tsukuba City Hall to ask them to look into the problem of lighting on the sidewalks of Tsukuba. I'm sure they have heard this suggestion a thousand times, but I thought it wouldn't hurt for them to hear it again. I submitted the letter in Japanese but here is the English version.
To the City Planning Section,
There are many students, researchers, and other residents of Tsukuba who depend on bicycles for transportation. Because of this, and because their use of bicycles helps to conserve the environment, Tsukuba City Hall should pay closer attention to the facilities and services it provides to cyclists.
In particular, I think the City should make an effort to improve the evening lighting on the sidewalks/bicycle paths. There are several spots on the large streets (Nishi Odori, Higashi Odori, Kita Odori, etc.) that become extremely dark after about 5:30pm, and earlier in the winter. Occasionally, it becomes impossible for a cyclist to see oncoming cyclists and pedestrians until they are almost bumping into each other. Also, since the sidewalks are not smooth, it is necessary to have better lighting in order to avoid the dangerous bumps. Since most people leave work after 5pm, it is important for the safety of both the cyclists and the pedestrians for the lighting to be improved.
I would like to suggest that some employees from the city planning section take a walk down each of the large streets around 6pm to determine which areas need better lighting. Because the city is very large and it is impossible (and not desirable) to light up the entire city, I would suggest that the City concentrate on the following areas in particular:
Walking down both sides of the street after dark will give a good sense of the problem areas. I believe that this situation can be improved with a few well-placed lights, so it should not incur great expense.
As a new and unique city, Tsukuba shoulders the burden of showing other cities -- both in Japan and abroad -- how to operate in a forward-thinking and sustainable way. Encouraging and supporting cyclists in their choice to ride a bicycle is one way that we can show the world our "Tsukuba Style".
Shaney Crawford and Melanie Hartman
On behalf of all cyclists in Tsukuba
And here is the translation of the response I received.
To Shaney Crawford
Your letter was received by Tsukuba City Hall, but the roads are managed by the prefecture, so here is the answer from the Tsuchiura Public Works Office.
Thank you very much for your valuable opinion about the lighting facilities on the major streets in Tsukuba. We have received similar complaints/requests about the danger of not having enough light on the sidewalks and bicycle paths on the major streets (Higashi Odori, Nishi Odori, Kita Odori, etc.) in the past.
When Tsukuba Science City was originally built, it was built with the concept of "greenery even around the roads". There was an agreement in place between the public works office and the city of Tsukuba not to put up any electricity poles, so we were not able to put up any street lamps.
However, in recent years, the population has increased and the conditions have changed in Tsukuba, so we have received comments from the citizens that they want more lighting in order to increase safety. Because of this, the prefecture and the city have held discussions and we are planning to put security lights up in certain places in the city.
From the prefecture's point of view, our budget is limited, but we hope that we can make Tsukuba a more safe and comfortable place to live.
We look forward to your cooperation in the future.
Tsuchiura Public Works Office
As you can see, it's not really a direct answer, and it doesn't really promise anything overly specific, but at least they are aware of the problem. Perhaps if a few more people write similar letters, they will take a more pro-active stance?
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