Biker Crackdown

by Kensatsukan Gaijin

The bicycle is to Japan what the automobile is to the United States - an iconic mode of transport. If you visit Japan, you should definitely rent or borrow a bicycle and take advantage - Japan is one of the most bicycle-friendly places on earth.  According to the National Police Agency, there were 71.551 million bicycles in Japan in 2013, compared with 27.643 million in 1970.  But take care - Japan is trying to be as serious about bicycle safety as they are about their bicycles.  


As of June 2015, a set of 14 laws have been passed nationwide to enforce safe and correct use of bicycles.  Under the new law, any cyclist who is caught riding through a red light or violating other traffic regulations more than twice in a period of three years will be required to take a safety course before being allowed back on the streets. The course lasts for three hours, and costs 5,700 yen. If you fail to attend, there’s another fine and you’ll receive another summons to attend school.  


Keep in mind that the laws apply to everyone aged 14 and older, and the two-strike policy is cumulative all over Japan. So if you get caught breaking one of the rules somewhere in Tokyo, and then you get caught again a few months later in another prefecture, that’s your two strikes right there. Already, Osaka Police have cited someone.  The man, a resident of Osaka’s Taisho Ward, was given traffic tickets on July 9 and again on July 15 near an intersection in the city’s Nishi Ward for riding a bicycle without a front brake, a violation of the traffic law, Osaka police said.


Here is a simple list of what NOT to do, or else:


1. Ignoring Traffic Signals

2. Riding in Prohibited Areas
3. Riding Unsafely on Footpaths/Riding on Undesignated Pedestrian Roads
4. Riding in the Wrong Lane

5. Obstructing Pedestrians

6. Crossing through Active Railroad Crossings
7. Ignoring Intersection Safety

8. Obstructing an Intersection
9. Riding Unsafely in Roundabouts/Rotaries
10. Not Obeying Stop Signs
11. Not Stopping at Crosswalks
12. Riding a Bike with Poor Brakes

13. Riding Under the Influence

14. Not Riding Safely

Japanese cyclists are already taking the rules to heart.  Accidents have dropped significantly this year, even before the law took effect.  They are even changing their time-honored habits, like riding while holding an umbrella. Consumer demand for ponchos has surged in recent months in line with the revised traffic law.  At a Loft store in Osaka that sells some 200 poncho varieties, sales in July rose by 8.4 times over the previous year. The most popular poncho cost about ¥4,000.



The Japan Times


Japan Today