Bike sharing services in Tokyo have been a godsend for me, saving me the hassle of maintaining and parking a bicycle, while offering convenience for short distances. I use the NTT docomo bike share service multiple times a week, and even more in summer just for joyrides. But recently, I’d been spotting more of LUUP‘s teal and white ports, and became curious about kick scooters after Japan relaxed rules for them in July this year. So I decided to give them a try myself.
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What is LUUP?
LUUP is an electric kick scooter and electric-assist bicycle sharing service. You can find ports scattered throughout Tokyo and other cities where the service is available, including near train stations, convenience stores, and even in front of residential buildings.
Currently, LUUP operates in Tokyo, Yokohama, Kyoto, Osaka, Kobe, Nagoya, and Hiroshima with plans to expand in the future.
First ride free! Coupon
Enter the coupon code below to get your first 30 minute ride free:
How to use LUUP
- Download the app from either Google Play or the App Store. The language can be set to English after installation.
- Enter the required details to register, and the coupon code above. Note that in order to use the service you must have a credit card. To use the kick scooters, you will also have to complete an ID check to prove you are over 16, and pass a simple traffic rules test. (Very easy, mostly common sense.)
- Once you have the app set up, look at the map to find ports close to you and see how many scooters/bikes are available. Since they are electric-assisted, you can also view the battery remaining on them.
4. Press “Ride” on the scooter you want to rent. You then have 10 minutes to unlock it by scanning the QR code on the handlebars. Note that the scooter number corresponds to the number under the QR code and not the number plate.
5. Once unlocked, the lights and display on the scooter will come to life, and your usage time starts. Kick the stand away by moving the scooter forward, and away you go!
6. Bikes and scooters rented from one port can be dropped at any other port in the city, provided there are bays available. Some ports even offer discounts on the rental cost if returned there. To return the scooter, park it in a bay at the port you selected for return, and take a photo of it with the app. The app will calculate the amount owed based on the usage time and port of return.
Cost of using LUUP
The service costs 200 yen for every 30 minutes of use in all cities, except for Osaka. In Osaka, the service costs a base 50 yen plus 15 yen per minute of use. The fare is the same regardless of whether you are using the electric kick scooters or bikes.
The charges are deducted from the credit card registered in the app, after any valid coupons are automatically applied. To get your first 30 minute ride free, enter the code RF4WO4MZ into the Coupon section of the app.
In addition to pay-per-use, there are subscription plans for those using the service to commute. During certain times of the year, you can also buy 3- or 12-hour passes, which enable you use the LUUP service as many times as you want within the timeframe.
Riding an electric kick scooter in Japan
It was my first time using an electric kick scooter, but it was all very straightforward. Kick forward a few times to build momentum, then press down the accelerator on the handle bar and the electric assist will do the rest. You literally just have to stand there and steer when you want to turn.
Like bicycles, it is easier to maintain balance when the scooter has some speed. Also, like bicycles, kick scooters in Japan are, in principle, required to ride on the road and not the sidewalk. The scooters are also equipped with indicators and a horn, and you should indicate when turning.
When fully pressing down the accelerator, the maximum speed of the electric kick scooter was around 20 kph, which is the maximum legal speed in Japan for riding such vehicles without a driver’s license.