Crossroads Japan

Can this bike project bring tourists back to Fukushima?

CNN staffUpdated 17th January 2018
View Video
00:56
(CNN) — It's been over six years since the northeast coast of Japan's Honshu island was hit by a devastating earthquake, leading to a deadly tsunami and nuclear disaster.
The hardest hit of all the affected prefectures, Fukushima is still fighting to lure tourists back to its beautiful natural landscapes.
Among the locals helping revive the local travel industry is Jun Yamadera, founder of bike share company Fukushima Wheel, based in the prefecture's capital of the same name.
"In the year of 2011, we have almost no people," says Yamadera. "It really hurt my feelings. That's my main motivation to start this project."
Like other bike share systems, Fukushima Wheel encourages citizens and tourists to explore the city on a shared bicycle. But there's so much more to the project.
It also serves as a cost-effective way to collect big data from the city through citizen science. An environmental sensor has been mounted on each bike, measuring data such as radiation levels, temperature, air pollution and more.
The wheels are equipped with LED displays that can be customized to show advertisements.
The project also comes with a complementing smartphone app that doubles as a city guide, offering points-of-interest and discounts to the venues around you. It also measures how much you've exercised and carbon emissions.
Fukushima Wheel is still in development stage but it has already received enthusiastic praises from media and tech fairs around the world.
To find out more about the program, check out the above video or visit Fukushima Wheel's website.