crime

77-yr-old woman dies after being knocked down by cyclist listening to music

58 Comments

A 77-year-old woman died after she was knocked down on a crossing by a 19-year-old student riding a bicycle while listening to music, police in Chiba city said Friday.

According to police, the incident occurred at around 7 p.m. in Inage Ward. Chiba Nippo News reported that the male student was riding a sports bike along the side of the road. He was quoted by police as saying that he was listening to music through earphones and didn't see the woman on the crossing.

The woman was taken to hospital, suffering head injuries, but died about 90 minutes later, police said.

Police said they are considering charging the student with gross negligence resulting in death.

The woman was walking home after visiting her daughter.

A local resident told media that she had seen a lot of people riding bikes recklessly in the area.

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58 Comments
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While listening to music while cycling is never a goo idea, I'm not sure how it would prevent a cyclist from seeing what is going on right in front of his nose.

But then this is the smartphone zombie generation. His mind was probably zoned out somewhere else.

23 ( +26 / -3 )

is the cyclist ok

-6 ( +8 / -14 )

he was listening to music through earphones and didn’t see the woman on the crossing.

Huh? since when does one see with ones ears?

How tragic this event may be, im afraid the police will use this to enforce (it is already considered illegal according to traffic law) listening to music while biking. sigh

6 ( +9 / -3 )

Tragic. But I'm reminded of a comedy sketch by Chris Rock.

"When you are old, all deaths are 'natural causes'. Even getting hit by a bus is a natural cause.....because a YOUNGER person would have moved outta the way!"

-1 ( +8 / -8 )

A sad way to end after 77 years.

5 ( +5 / -0 )

I'll bet he was looking at his phone when this happened, not just listening to it.

12 ( +15 / -3 )

A local resident told media that she had seen a lot of people riding bikes recklessly in the area.

Quote of the year!

10 ( +11 / -1 )

Sad, I hope people understand now why wear headphones are bad idea when riding. They restrict one of your abilities to detect danger; you should have all senses available when on your bike.

7 ( +10 / -3 )

Headphones are not the problem. They help me stay focused. Without headphones, I'd be distracted by all of the noise Tokyo streets serve up.

-15 ( +9 / -23 )

i agree, i don't see the connection between headphones and crashing into someone at the intersection. and why do the police even have to "consider" pressing charges? at the bare minimun he should be charged with manslaughter.

2 ( +8 / -6 )

Tragic but if she was hit by a vehicle would it be news? Of course this will lead unnecessary labeling of cycling as dangerous. I see the are selling cycling insurance now and fear it will become mandatory.

-2 ( +4 / -6 )

Something tells me that he wasn't listening to music...most likely he was texting.

12 ( +15 / -3 )

Some people don't seem to understand the dangers of using earphones. It's sort of hard do believe... No. The earphone/headphones may not be the direct cause of the accident at the intersection. However, one could speculate that the cyclist may have been fiddling with his music player or smart phone.

To the rider that says that the headphones keep him "focused". Apparently you are not very concerned with being able detect approaching danger. When riding a bike, you basically have only two senses that help you survive you trip. Sight and hearing. With earphones in your ears and music playing, you just lost one of your two senses.

Please ride safely.

11 ( +14 / -3 )

Headphones are not the problem. They help me stay focused. Without headphones, I'd be distracted by all of the noise Tokyo streets serve up.

Considering you are riding in those Tokyo streets, you should be focused on them. What on earth are you focusing on that the streets distract you from?

4 ( +6 / -2 )

I think listening to music is one of the things advised to be banned while ridding bicycle.

I myself can't even walk the streets with ear-buds in my ears - I prefer to hear what's around me.

Speaking of the accident it is not clear if this lead to the crash. If he was on the side of the road the victim might not have seen him in the twilight. Was he with light on? Many bits are missing to judge - pity for the tragic end of the woman.

0 ( +1 / -1 )

Police said they are considering charging the student with gross negligence resulting in death.

As he should be.

9 ( +10 / -1 )

Though it's a tragic outcome, I think there are more dangerous things that people do on bicycles than just listening to music, if that's 'only' what he was doing. Looking at the smartphone is obviously top of the list, then riding with umbrellas, riding on the wrong side of the road, riding two or three abreast, riding drunk and so on. I admit that I listen to music when I ride and have done for years with no mishaps, though I'm considering stopping now the police are clamping down on it more and enforcing penalties.

6 ( +7 / -1 )

A lot of bikers ride fast and close to pedestrians even on crosswalks, not to mention sidewalks. It's almost like a game of chicken sometimes.

I have a strong feeling he didn't slow down nor make much of an attempt to ride clear of her, but rather was trying to do the often seen very close ride-by.

1 ( +2 / -1 )

Bogva.

Those rules are NOT advised to be banned, they have been banned(always) for years and some had fines to the tune of 40-50Man en.

You used to get a warning till involved in an accident, that was when you end up a few million in fines, damages, insurance premiums and more.

0 ( +2 / -2 )

I cycle home in the evening on route 246 to Futako Tamagawa. Usually around Sangenjaya station it is not uncommon to have kids cycling on the wrong side of the very dangerous 246 road, with headphones in, while texting and completely oblivious, I used to had to swerve to miss them until unfortunately I swerved into the corner of a bus. If I could have gave chase I would have grabbed him and and dragged him to the nearest koban, unfortunately a broken rib prevented me giving chase.

This kid probably did have earphones in, it doesn't stop you from seeing, but texting does. I really hope these new laws are enforced in some way, starting with this kid, throw the book at them, they are giving decent cyclists a bad name.

8 ( +8 / -0 )

" I see the are selling cycling insurance now and fear it will become mandatory."

I hope so!

In this case other media are reporting that the bicyclist was also witnessed to be looking down before he hit the woman. So it is likely he wasn't "just listening to music".

3 ( +6 / -3 )

The cyclist is very lucky he wasn't wiped out by a car he didn't hear. He is lucky he didn't die. Unfortunately, someone else did.

There may be laws that ban listening to headphones and so on when riding a bike, but are they ever enforced? Rarely, if at all, which is why idiots on bicycles are an everyday sight. Perhaps, part of the blame lies with the police as they don't try hard enough to stop reckless riding.

Reckless riders should be treated like reckless drivers and banned from riding.

5 ( +6 / -1 )

sad, rip grandma,

you lose situation awareness wearing earphones, if your going to bike don't wear something to distract you, after all how will you hear a horn warning you.

this was needless death, and financial restitution should be paid to the family for a avoidable event at the very least.

3 ( +4 / -1 )

Obviously the woman was in front of the bicyclist at some point whether to the side or in his path. This is the fault of the bicyclist.

4 ( +5 / -1 )

Maybe the old woman lost her footing and stumbled in front of the cyclist? Wearing a helmet cam might be a good idea for regular cyclists. Listening to music will not interfere with one's ability to see / avoid an old woman. It CAN affect your ability to hear things that make sounds like cars.

-1 ( +2 / -3 )

n this case other media are reporting that the bicyclist was also witnessed to be looking down before he hit the woman. So it is likely he wasn't "just listening to music".

Yes, NHK said he was leaning forward, as he was riding fast, so he was looking down.

1 ( +2 / -1 )

I'm a cyclist too, and for each person who says it's safe to ride with earbuds, I can give an example of a near-miss contributed to by an earphone wearer not hearing my bell.

4 ( +5 / -1 )

Yeah, sure you can hear a Hybrid or similar with headphones on.

I do listen to music while cyclimg but I use a BT Headset that goes only into one ear, cops I spoke said that is fine. My MP3 player/tablet is in the waistpouch.

The headset has volume controls, on/off switch and I like my music quiet.

RIP, but it will take people time to realise the times of the free for all are over.

One guy on his bicycle ran a red robot and had to stop in the middle of the road because of cars, but he swears it was green, even though 5 pedestrian said it was red.

-4 ( +1 / -5 )

Whatever he was listening to, the authorities should beam it into his cell, 24-hours a day, for the next 10 years. As Gilbert and Sullivan would have sung, make the punishment fit the crime.

5 ( +5 / -0 )

A co- worker of one of my students was killed 2 weeks ago by a cyclist texting.44 years old,2 children. Grow up Japan! Side walks are not bike lanes.

5 ( +5 / -0 )

Police said they are considering charging the student with gross negligence resulting in death.

Thye shouldn't be "considering" anything. The student should be charged -- ASAP.

0 ( +3 / -3 )

Listening to music on a bike is rather dumb, but I fear that the fact that sometimes accidents happen and that they, sometimes, can be simply unavoidable accidents is becoming lost on Japanese police. Especially with children on bikes.

So saying of course, it would appear that this particular guy also ran a red light? In which case he deserves to be charged.

2 ( +2 / -0 )

A.N.Other: "But then this is the smartphone zombie generation."

Sigh. I suppose the people 20 years ago with the Sony Walkman's clipped to their belts and listening to music while riding have smartphones to blame for their woes as well? because there were people ignoring the dangers of listening to headphones and music way back then as well.

And as it was and always has been, not using your senses to pay attention to your surroundings, regardless of what you're using not, is just plain stupid especially when on a bike or operating a vehicle. I used to sometimes ride my bike and listen to music a long time ago with a cassette walkman and I can't believe how stupid and dangerous I was being when I think back -- and that's what it's more a problem of here than anything else; being young, reckless, and stupid. Forget the "gross negligence resulting in death" stuff. There are bike laws that have been in place for a long time, and others that have just recently been put into law (or again in many cases, since they were already law but no one followed them). Charge him with reckless endangerment resulting in death, or the equivalent when it comes to bicycles. Even if the old lady was weaving about or darted in another direction suddenly, it seems the kid could not react because he was not paying proper attention.

RIP to the poor woman. If the kid gets off with less than severe punishment, I hope he spends a long time, if not the rest of his life, making it up to the family and society, and pays attention.

0 ( +3 / -3 )

No sure about other countries but headphones are banned for road members in my home country ever since the Walkman craze.

I foresee Japan adopting a rider licence for bicycles soon, many areas are requesting them like kanagawa.

1 ( +3 / -2 )

Headphones are bad while driving because whatever you're listening to is distracting you from safely using the vehicle you're operating. Don't bother to tell me you're some superhuman multi-tasker who can devote 100% of their attention to the road while somehow coming up with additional percentage points to listen on headphones because I'll call you a liar.

A similar "distracted bicyclist" incident but with no fatal injuries. Note the earbuds in the ears BEFORE the collision, but dangling after the collision:

https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=9OrKLGEOVRA

1 ( +1 / -0 )

Hence why I use a BT Headset, they work for way more than making hands free phone calls while driving..

Can still hear surround noises like conversations, etc to switch on/off or change volume I only take one hand of the handles to touch my Ear. And being BT no wire.

How many of you use those sets?

Using full headphones is stupid and irresponsible.

-4 ( +0 / -4 )

I'm quite surprised the cyclist was actually on the street and not that paved area to either side of the road... don't recall what that area is called anymore... oh wait, it's the sideWALK, where most Japanese cyclists weave in and out of pedestrian traffic. Surprised this isn't an everyday occurrence.

3 ( +3 / -0 )

It's not a matter of being a superhuman multi-tasker or of being stupid, whatever the knee-jerk reaction of some posters might indicate. It's a matter of being aware of your surroundings and following common sense when it comes to cycling. As someone who cycles in Tokyo nearly every day, all-year-round, often up to as much as 65 km. per day, and who often listens to podcasts while cycling, I can say in all honesty that I have never had an accident, which I attribute to the way I ride and not to the way those around me drive or to dumb luck. Anyone who depends on others on the road or luck to keep them safe is begging for an accident. Additionally, I firmly believe that listening to podcasts and occasionally to music, helps me to focus. If I've got to make any adjustments to what I'm listening to, I pull over to the side, stop and make the adjustments. It's pretty simple.

Tokyo in particular, is an over-saturation of visual stimulation. When you are on the road, the lights and signs can be overwhelming to the point where it is difficult to keep your eyes focused on the road. I find that when I have a podcast to focus my ears on, it helps me stay better focused visually. I should clarify that I never listen to it at a volume so high that I cannot hear horns honking or people shouting. The funny thing is though, that for as loud as Tokyo can be in many respects, when you are cycling, you rarely hear cars honking their horns or people shouting at you so I'm not exactly sure what it is that so many people here think you need to be keeping your ears peeled for. When you ride a bicycle, your eyes are your main contact with what is going on around you and if you aren't paying attention or riding on the right side of the road - not the pavement - or watching out for cars, other cyclists, pedestrians, dogs, etc., listening to music or not listening to music isn't going to change your odds of having an accident all that much, if at all.

I see daily incidences of shocking stupidity on the part of cyclists and don't ever remember someone's headphones as being the cause. Adjusting the volume or what they're listening to, maybe but the listening itself, no. It's pretty darn similar to a car. The radio is not the issue. Listening to it so loud that you can't hear anything going on around you is a problem. Not looking at the road while you're listening to the radio is a problem. Not looking at the road while you're tuning the radio is a problem. Listening to the radio is not the problem.

Is it illegal for deaf people to ride bicycles in Japan? Just wondering.

Besides, listening to music doesn't necessarily harm your powers of spatial awareness. The human sensorium is the result of millions of years of evolution. It began as a radar for predators before morphing into a complex system that utilises various tools. One of those tools is your hearing – but most humans don't rely on their ears to get from A to B in the same way they do their eyes. Cut out the audible and you should still make it to your destination. Unlike bats and dolphins, we don't navigate using echolocation.

Similar to the way in which motorists or surgeons use music to relax in high-stress situations, Jungnickel and Aldred reckon that a cyclist listening to music is well equipped to deal with the maelstrom around them: "Our research suggests that cyclists are just as consciously aware, if not more, of their sensory engagement as other transport users and engage in sensory strategies that manage their exposure to it. Just as drivers use the radio to create a safe, social and comfortable space on the road, it is possible to interpret cyclists’ sensory strategies [listening to music] as ways of negotiating and domesticating challenging environments."

http://www.telegraph.co.uk/men/active/recreational-cycling/10956953/Should-cyclists-be-allowed-to-listen-to-music.html

1 ( +2 / -1 )

after visiting her daughter...

0 ( +0 / -0 )

I am constantly checking over my shoulder for bikes as I do not want to be suddenly slammed into from behind. I do tend to move not in a straight line when I walk and maybe that is because I see something that takes me in either direction. Headphones and texting is a common site I see. Amazing how the world around them is so nice to see, but they stay within their own world. My neighbor was hit while waiting at a bus stop at the bottom of a hill. A junior high school boy was coming down the hill and apparently was occupied in something other than seeing the woman. She ended up with a broken foot and injuries to her face and body. Recently heard that the law has changed as far as riding bikes on sidewalks. Can anyone confirm that? It sure has not slowed down the bikes around me.

0 ( +0 / -0 )

I used to text while holding an umbrella with my friend sitting on the back. And we were both listening to music. Never had a problem.

This guy was using a sports bike so I assume it is a speed bike and he probably had on a helmet too. She probably did not look while stepping into the rode and there was no way for him to stop.

-5 ( +0 / -5 )

But then this is the smartphone zombie generation.

Irrelevant.

Japanese bicyclists are the most selfish, situationally unaware people on this earth. That, plus they all ride mamachari which most of them seem to have learned to ride 1week ago. In short - they all suck.

This time it was a youngster, but I battle the old fools - the ones wo don't see, don't hear, don't care (because they're old and the think they can act as they want because of age) on a daily basis. Riding on the damn sidewalks, against traffic, oblivious to what's going on around them.

I feel sorry for the old lady. No one deserves to die because of some hetakuso clown misusing his bike.

This is an attitude problem, and nothing will change here. It never does.

0 ( +2 / -2 )

i agree, i don't see the connection between headphones and crashing into someone at the intersection. and why do the police even have to "consider" pressing charges? at the bare minimun he should be charged with manslaughter.

I agree. A stinging example needs to be set. These smartphone zombies - be is pedestrians or cyclists - are everywhere, and need to learn a lesson. I had a pedestrian zombie walk into me yesterday (which he soon regretted)

0 ( +0 / -0 )

@Yelnats

"She probably did not look while stepping into the rode and there was no way for him to stop.

If the animation used to explain this case on the news last night was correct, then you are assuming wrong. It showed her crossing the street in a crosswalk going from right to left of the screen. When she was nearly all the way across and ready to step onto the sidewalk on the left of the screen, the bike which was being ridden on the left side of the street, struck her. It clearly appeared the bike rider would have been at fault regardless of whether the rider was distracted or not.

3 ( +3 / -0 )

I'm always scared of them. Sometimes they're in the pedestrian allowed side and I don't hear them coming. Something I find terrible here is childs doesn't even wear a hat. When you're 7 years old you MUST wear one.

1 ( +1 / -0 )

It's illegal to wear headphones while riding a bike in Japan.

I personally use a handlebar-mounted speaker. Let's me listen to music, while still being able to hear my surroundings. I prefer to hear my surroundings because I don't want to die.

Recently, I purchased bicycle insurance for my entire family, for this exact situation. If one of us should ever inadvertently kill someone by hitting them on our bike, I'd hate for it to bankrupt our family. It's about 3000 yen/person/year. Seams reasonable to me.

4 ( +4 / -0 )

Let's me listen to music, while still being able to hear my surroundings.

AH, those that mind their surroundings are a rare species in Japan

0 ( +0 / -0 )

Walking, driving, while listening to music is okay. I hear cars and pedestrians pass with music so loud it's nuts. Why is it only bike riders that are singled out? Blatant discrimination. Perhaps all use old ear buds outside the home should be banned.

-1 ( +3 / -4 )

Walking, driving, while listening to music is okay. I hear cars and pedestrians pass with music so loud it's nuts. Why is it only bike riders that are singled out? Blatant discrimination. Perhaps all use old ear buds outside the home should be banned.

Walking with ear buds isn't dangerous. Driving while wearing headphones is already prohibited. Bike riders are not singled out.

1 ( +4 / -3 )

Some perspective needed. The percentage of pedestrian deaths caused by a person on a bike is incredibly low compared to deaths caused by being struck by an automobile. The fact that incidents like these are so rare is exactly what makes it so newsworthy, and why the media never fails to make us aware of each and every incident. Pedestrian(and cyclist) fatalities caused by motor vehicles, on the other hand, are an everyday common occurrence that the public has become desensitized to, and disinterested in, and so, are vastly underreported. This is how false perceptions come to be formed, and fool-hardy, car-centric transport policies set in motion. Perception is everything unfortunately.

RIP to the poor woman.

2 ( +3 / -1 )

Cyclist insurance should be mandatory!!!

-4 ( +0 / -4 )

Everyone seems to assume that the cyclist is at fault. Remember, police are considering charges. If it were cut and dry, they'd have already made charges.

1 ( +2 / -1 )

Perhaps, part of the blame lies with the police as they don't try hard enough to stop reckless riding.

gaijintraveller said. Part of the blame? No, a great deal of the blame. They don't try at all.

1 ( +1 / -0 )

Bikers are reckless here. They just ride down the street with a blank look in their eyes. But so do pedestrians. It might help of Japan enforce more biker laws and stop punishing people who ride or drive down the street and hit pedestrians who just jump out into traffic. I know that there are so many pedestrians who do not pay attention at all and just cross without even looking. Things need to change. The pedestrians should be warned to pay much more attention.

2 ( +3 / -1 )

I'm quite surprised the cyclist was actually on the street and not that paved area to either side of the road... don't recall what that area is called anymore... oh wait, it's the sideWALK, where most Japanese cyclists weave in and out of pedestrian traffic.

Many urban areas in Japan don't have sidewalks.

4 ( +4 / -0 )

Accident waiting to happen. Cyclist with scant regard for anyone elses safety and elderly people walking the streets like they are drunk or the wheel hasnt even been invented yet. People wake up.

0 ( +3 / -3 )

If he was driving a car and gave that reason we would be reading that he had been arrested!

0 ( +1 / -1 )

Chances were high that the male student was riding on his sports bicycle in the bent-over position to pick up speed and thus ended up not looking ahead carefully.

Oddly enough, listening to music through earphones while cycling looks like nothing is wrong among young people these days. Very strange, quirky and it's very dangerous!

May she rest in peace.

0 ( +1 / -1 )

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