The single phrase, “I like bikes”, differs from person to person depending on how much they like them, their way of thinking and their relationship with bikes.
For example, people who use their bikes as a method of transport are probably interested in safety and peace of mind whereas those who are interested in mechanics may have an emotional attachment to each individual part….
“There is a surprising number of people who like bikes and who are particular about them. I want to value both places where these kinds of people gather as well as the concept of “connecting even further with people who are connected by bikes”.”
It is a shame that we are all disconnected even we have a common interest in bicycles. It is precisely because of this that Mr. Fujimoto’s goal, his dream is to connect these people.
“At the moment, I am working as a Director of the Bicycle Usage Promotion Study Group. We hold regular study groups. Their themes are interesting; popular themes concern the road environment for riding bicycles or anecdotes about manufacturer developments. We also invite guests who have travelled all over the world and talk about town planning that makes good use of bikes such as the Shimanami Kaido. We want lots of people to be interested in it.”
Mr. Fujimoto is also on the sponsorship side for the Study Group. But he says he never pushes his own views.
“What is important in the study group is that friends who are connected by bikes gather, learn and further deepen their connections. We, the sponsors, encounter new discoveries every time, subjects pertaining to bicycles are bandied about at informal gatherings and we all go home feeling regret that we have to leave each other.”
The Study Group may give off a slightly starchy image but both Mr. Fujimoto and the subjects are well-disposed and impressive. In the end, it is a very familiar presence, just like bicycles.
“I think it is easier to imagine completing the sentence “With bikes…” rather than “Bikes are…”. Of course, we like bikes so we focus on them. But bicycles have a mysterious charm; they connect us to people we don’t know and they give us opportunities to experience various encounters.”
Mr. Fujimoto acts every day to emphasize propagation rather than communication while having fun together. Of course, he himself is a big fan of bikes! Where does this motivation come from? It is not just a simple love of bikes - we tried to root out Mr. Fujimoto’s starting point with bikes.
Mr. Fujimoto first encountered bicycles in boyhood just like many other people. When he was at elementary school, interests broadened and one or two friends around him got bicycles.
“I pestered my parents saying, “I want one too!” I didn’t usually ask for anything and wasn’t spoiled but this time I really insisted so my parents gave in and bought me one.”
“At the time, we didn’t really have enough money to buy a bike comfortably so, in order to talk my father round, my mother did a lot of different things including getting certification from my teacher.”
“At any rate, I was really happy. But, when I think about it now, more than wanting a bike, it was that I wanted to play with my friends who had bikes,” says Mr. Fujimoto. His feelings of valuing the fun and joy he got from bikes translates to his activities today.
Mr. Fujimoto, who was completely captivated by bicycles, went on to a technical college after graduating from junior high school and became serious both about having fun with, and riding, bikes.
“I was really into bikes; going camping, creating clubs when I was at college and becoming interested in bicycle parts. Anyway, it was really fun creating bikes to my own liking. When I got my first job, I really enjoyed it. I was busy at times and there was a period when I moved away from bikes a little.”
After graduation from college, Mr. Fujimoto spent his days wrapped up in the development of consumer electronics-related products. Even so, it seems that the process of developing products while imagining people using them was fun.
“The development of manufactured products itself is similar to bikes in that it is fun but there is significance in the process and preferences and the sense of satisfaction when something was completed made me get carried away. Then, as time passed and I thought about what my life’s work was, the words of my partner (wife), “The job I am doing now is my dream job,” were a catalyst. That was when I realized. That I wanted to look into possibilities focusing on bicycles.”
Mr. Fujimoto’s feelings towards bikes were rekindled by these words from his partner. This makes us wonder what he is up to now.
Currently, one of his activities with the Bicycle Usage Promotion Study Group is as a teacher who develops a bicycle traffic safety training program, conducting traffic safety training for children at schools, etc. in partnership with municipalities.
“It is not simply teaching the rules of the road. We are taking care to teach practical skills with games rather than forcing rules and obligations on the students. I want the kids to be able to experience the joy of being able to do something while being stimulated and thrilled.”
This is another place where Mr. Fujimoto’s particularity about propagating questioning minds is exhibited.
“Propagating for children requires careful preparation. I am particular about classroom learning using PowerPoint slides and I closely check the area and roads around the school in advance to create examples so that I can make sure that the kids feel that we are talking about their particular situation. Even if you go that far, I think it is still difficult to “propagate”.”
In addition, it is not possible for him to teach at schools by himself. Therefore, Mr. Fujimoto involves other people who have never had a chance to teach and works on this with friends and acquaintances.
“Myself and the other members of the group who are active at the moment talk to the people involved with bikes around us and ask them to get involved and work with us. Of course, we don’t force them but these are friends and acquaintances with whom we have connections due to our enjoyment of bikes so we want them to share in the enjoyment of propagation with a slightly different outlook. After all, I don’t want bikes to end up being the villain and I believe that they are a tool which is indispensable to society. I hope that we will be able to carry on with these activities.”
“I have no idea what I will be able to do in the future but I want to be able to be fussy about bikes.” From this, we can feel the potential of bicycles, which have been so ordinary that we hadn’t realized it, expanding. And, we believe that Mr. Fujimoto has taught us the importance of communication and sharing, even if we have to overcome various obstacles.
The bicycle life also has a deep connection with OVE. What can we leave behind for children and the future? This probably will not be actual physical bicycles but is more likely to be a hint from the mindset that surrounds them.
Comes from Osaka. Is the Representative Director of F Design. After specializing in mechanical engineering, he engaged in research and development in consumer electronics with a manufacturer for 30 years. He is currently a municipal committee member concerned with bicycles as well as a teacher who develops a bicycle traffic safety training program for all age groups from children and students to general citizens. In addition, he pursues biking activities for fields such as town planning, health and children’s self-reliance. Director of NPO Bicycle Usage Promotion Study Group.