New Math

There's something that's bothered me for a long time. Like years. A couple of decades, actually.

Bicycles are a big part of life in Japan. Many people use bicycles to get around, particularly to get to-and-from train stations, from which they commute to-and-from work, school and such.

If you live in a country where bicycles are not a mainstream form of transport, it might not occur to you, but with thousands of bicycles in every neighborhood, there is substantial demand for parking space.

Around most train stations, particularly those in or near major urban centers, there are dedicated parking lots for bicycles. They range from simple open-air plots of land to fancy multi-level covered parking lots...just like there are for cars.

Of course, you have to pay to use these bicycle parking lots.

The thing that's bugged me for so long is the pricing system. Example below:

illogical sign

The typical arrangement is something like what's indicated above. For bicycles: 1,500 Yen for one month; 4,500 Yen for three months. (The 2,000/6,000 pricing is for small scooters.)


I have never been able to figure out why it's necessary to show the price for three months.

Most people in Japan, I assume, are able to multiply 1,500 Yen by three to derive 4,500 Yen, so why the need for that extra column? Just to fill up space perhaps? Why not list the prices for two, four, five, six, seven, etc. months as well if we're going to do simple calculations for everyone?

I know. In the grand scheme of things, it's not a big deal. It's just something that gets under my skin every time I pass one of these signs.

Today, however, I came across this sign...

logical sign

...and felt an enormous burden lifted off my shoulders.

Looks like someone else finally figured out the math and realised the three-month deal wasn't such a bargain after all.