Where in Tokyo can you borrow a bike for free, spend a pleasant Sunday morning cycling around a loop with your family in scenic surrounds away from traffic? The Imperial Palace Cycling Route, thats where.
Each Sunday between 10am and 3pm Uchibori-dori in front of the Imperial Palace gardens is closed from Iwada Bridge to the Hirakawa Gate creating a 3 kilometer cycling loop surrounded by the castle moats and pine trees for all to enjoy. While you'll see some sporty types on the course they're vastly outnumbered by families, children and couples out for a leisurely ride.
You can cycle the course on your own bicycle or borrow from a total of 250 bicycles for free. To borrow a bicycle you will need to visit the reception desk and fill out a simple form. If required volunteers can help you select a suitable bicycle for yourself or your children based on age, height and weight. Bicycles available include city bicycles, mountain bicycles, tandem bicycles, children's bicycles and infant's bicycles.
To ensure the smallest of children are kept out of harms way there is a Kids Corner where users of infants' bicycles can ride safely accompanied by a parent.
While riding the course remember to keep an eye on the cyclists around you, especially children as they're prone to changing direction at the most unexpected of times and while the loop is closed to traffic you still have to obey the traffic lights operating at certain points to allow pedestrians to cross the course.
I have to stress that this is a course for leisurely cycling with your partner or children. If you're looking to train on a closed loop circuit with triathletes and semi-professional cyclists then you're better off heading to the 9.5km Oifuto loop where you can sprint to your hearts content.
The Imperial Palace Cycling Route is roughly 3 minutes walk from Exit 2 of Nijubashi Station on the Chiyoda line, or 10 minutes walk from the Marunouchi side of Tokyo Station.