crime

Driver arrested after car hits mother, daughter on bike, killing girl

68 Comments

The 72-year-old driver of a car has been arrested after he hit a 35-year-old woman and her 2-year-old daughter riding a bicycle in Komae, Tokyo. The girl died as a result of injuries, police said.

The incident occurred at around 11 a.m. Tuesday, Fuji TV reported. Witnesses were quoted as saying the car and the bicycle were going in the same direction along a narrow road with no sidewalks. The car veered left, hitting the bike from behind and dragged it for about 100 meters before hitting a wall.

Takako Hattori and her 2-year-old daughter Ayako were on the bike. Police said Ayako suffered severe head injuries and was pronounced dead at hospital. Her mother remained in a critical condition on Wednesday.

The driver, Toshio Takahashi, has been charged with involuntary manslaughter, Fuji TV reported. He was quoted by police as saying that he hunched over because he had an acute stomach ache and that's when he hit the bicycle. He said he then mistakenly pressed the accelerator instead of the brake.

© Japan Today

©2021 GPlusMedia Inc.

68 Comments
Login to comment

over 70 should not drive! Risks are way too high.. they all always mistake brakes / accelerator anyway - death sentence please!

-26 ( +9 / -33 )

This is my biggest fear in Japan because I see so many mothers carrying their kids on a mamachari. One mistake or accident and you can lose your whole family. RIP little one.

7 ( +11 / -4 )

He said he then mistakenly pressed the accelerator instead of the brake.

Because it sounds better than "I went for the hit-and-run but the wall got in the way."

3 ( +9 / -6 )

Japanese roads are Russian Roulette. A delicate balancing act. Elderly people, or mothers on bicycles with kids and shopping, concrete culverts, no kerbs/curbs and no shoulders to the narrow roads is a risky business, and it's a miracle there are not more accidents like this.

6 ( +9 / -3 )

over 70 should not drive! Risks are way too high

You are ignoring the fact that young drivers tend to pose more of a risk.

9 ( +15 / -6 )

he then mistakenly pressed the accelerator instead of the brake.

How many time this must happen every year by older driver? Every time it's same excuse.

-4 ( +6 / -10 )

He dragged the bike for 100 meters? Something is not right with this. Even if he did hit the accelerator it would not take a 100 meters to stop. Something needs to be done to check the competency of elderly drivers and it needs to be done at regular intervals. The narrow roads are far to dangerous to have incompetent and careless drivers on them, which is not necessarily restricted to the elderly, I suppose.

On the other side of the coin though, this little girl died from severe head injuries. Was she wearing a helmet? I bet not! It is impossible to say if a helmet would have saved her life, but I will bet private parts that she was not wearing one, which is 'supposed to be' law in Japan for under 13's.

2 ( +8 / -6 )

get ur private parts ready for a drive over....

1 ( +1 / -0 )

The 70 year old is just a poor driver, and I don't believe the stomach ache excuse for 1 minute (as if it were even a good excuse for hitting someone with a car). What a ridiculous excuse. If you're sick and can't drive safely, then don't drive...plain and simple common sense.

If you run into someone with a car, the first thing that should have been done is to stop IMMEDIATELY. Dragging the bike 100 meters, and not stopping until hitting a wall tells me that he didn't even realize he hit anyone. He had no business being on the road PERIOD (regardless of age).

@Disillusioned

Although the 2 year old should have been wearing a helmet, you can't fault them for this accident. For the above reason, this is purely the fault of the driver. And if the bike was truly dragged 100 meters, and didn't stop before running into a wall, then I am not sure if a helmet would have made any difference.

1 ( +6 / -5 )

Such a sad story!

To Alex: My Grandfather is 88 years old and still drives. He has not had a crash ever where it had been his fault. Even over 60 when reaction timing and vision may start to deteriorate.

I believe the Japanese government should make it law for drivers over 60 to get tested for their driving ability and vision on a reasonable basis and repeated over a set period of time.

Also it should be law that all bicycle riders wear helmets. It's law in Australia and it's proven that wearing a decent helmet saves lives!

I'm not sure what the law is here, but something has to be done to educate people about the dangers oif not wearing a helmet etc...

0 ( +4 / -4 )

Seems pretty obvious the driver is 100% to blame, save perhaps city planners and society here in general for allowing all the narrow roads and lack of law enforcement. If the guy had acute stomach pain, it should have been the break, and I'm sorry but if you mistake the accelerator the break you have no right to drive to begin with. Take away the license, and put him in prison for the rest of his life. RIP, little one.

I do have to say, though, it kind of sounds like neither mother nor daughter were wearing helmets -- another thing that needs to be made law here.

Japanese streets are indeed Russian roulette, as one poster put it. Be it morons flicking on the hazard lights and parking their cars on sidewalks or what few bicycle lanes exist, old ladies doing the keri-keri-nori to weave around on the wrong side of the road, cars veering into the opposite lanes at high speed to pass turning cars or buses, utility poles in the middle of the 30 cm sidewalks, or what have you, the streets here are extremely dangerous.

0 ( +5 / -5 )

I ride a Japanese "mom bike" with my two kids on. We all wear helmets. I can not understand why you'd put your kids on bikes without them?! Especially in Japan. No matter whose fault once you're in a accident, the helmet saves lives. My heart breaks to read this because as a mom I can't imagine you'll ever forgive yourself, such an simple precaution.. RIP little one...

0 ( +4 / -4 )

Juju1, your grandfa is a road menace...him not hitting anyone is more luck than anything else. Its a fact that at that age,reflexes and responses are slower and health is worse for a majority of people - it is just a biological fact.

Hence, they should not be driving unless they are healthy as a bull and exhibit exceptional abilities...and yes testing should be weekly, at a drivers expense and done by 3rd party independent government testing facility.

-5 ( +3 / -8 )

foam bike helmets don't do much when a car its you that's physics. Especially if you are dragged 100 yards and crushed into a wall.

5 ( +6 / -1 )

your grandfa is a road menace

I've met more safe drivers in the 80's than those in their 20's. Fault is with the driver, not their age.

7 ( +8 / -1 )

Matthew Simon: "foam bike helmets don't do much when a car its you that's physics. Especially if you are dragged 100 yards and crushed into a wall."

Very true, but we don't exactly know if she suffered the head wounds from being hit directly and/or dragged (it does say they were knocked off the bike, which kind of insinuates only the bike itself was dragged), or concussing her head against the ground, in which case a helmet definitely would have helped. In any case, it doesn't say at all if a helmet was worn -- no details.

slumdog: "I've met more safe drivers in the 80's than those in their 20's. Fault is with the driver, not their age."

I've met more people in their 80s who have had to give up their licenses than people in their 20s. You're spot on that regardless of age the fault is with the driver, but you cannot deny that with age most people's bodies and faculties decline.

-1 ( +1 / -2 )

foam bike helmets don't do much when a car its you that's physics. Especially if you are dragged 100 yards and crushed into a wall.

Disagree. This kid could still be alive, although with injuries, had she had a helmet on. Heads are like watermelons and every bit of padding helps. It also means the charges would be different if this kid had lived. Think about it folks when driving. You hit a person and they aren't following the rules - biking with the traffic, have a helmet on, no earphones in, umbrella... this could be the difference between an accident or being charged with killing someone. We're all at risk driving when cyclists aren't following the rules. Drives me nuts. And so do the horrific drivers I see on a daily basis. It's like everyone has a death wish out there and the cops do... nothing.

May the mom recover and the girl RIP and the guy deal with his guilt. I wouldn't want to be in any of their shoes. Now, where is the blame for the town.city that has no safe areas for pedestrians and cyclists? They have blood on their hands as well.

1 ( +6 / -5 )

Why would you blame town for old geezer cant differentiate between brakes and accelerator for 100yards... it doesnt matter where would they be..luckily he didnt plunge into a group of kids... if governments cant implement weekly testing requiremnt for old people, licenses should be revoked by the age of 70 , if that person over 70 can and want to drive, they should prove they are capable of by fully re-testing.

-6 ( +0 / -6 )

tmarie: "Now, where is the blame for the town.city that has no safe areas for pedestrians and cyclists? They have blood on their hands as well."

100% agree with you. I actually saw a minor accident this morning in which there were two cars at an intersection with a scooter behind, and when the first car was trying to turn left the scooter went into the right lane to overtake them, but so did the second car at the same time, resulting in the scooter driver being hit and -- if the guy were not limber would have resulted in a total wipe out -- jumping off his bike. I see this same kind of thing day in and day out (minus the accidents), with both young and old, both bicycles and cars, etc. It is appalling how the laws are not upheld in such a supposedly civilized nation. This old man, obviously, should not have been driving, and the streets should be widened and people not allowed just because the streets are wider to make it a car park. Helmets should be mandatory, etc.

-2 ( +1 / -3 )

I heard he first said he didn't really know what happened. Then this came out with his stomachache story.

He hit them and then tried to escape. Unfortunately for him the bike got caught on his car and he hit a wall 100 meters away. Hit and run.

4 ( +4 / -0 )

Alex: Why would you blame town for old geezer cant differentiate between brakes and accelerator for 100yards

72 is not that old. There are plenty of safe drivers in their 70's. You've probably even met a few.

Smith: I've met more people in their 80s who have had to give up their licenses than people in their 20s.

More infractions are committed by the younger crowd than the older. I think it is rather dangerous to focus on the age too much. Smacks of ageism.

3 ( +5 / -2 )

Whats ageism? another US coined fake terminology... old people are largely not as capable as young people - its a fact.

-1 ( +0 / -1 )

Terrible, exactly why my wife is not allowed to ride with the kids on her bike, I see a near miss almost everyday, this will only get worse as the population ages...

-4 ( +2 / -6 )

Car accidents are the leading cause of death among children. Sure helmuts are a good idea for cyclists but if you are going to make them mandatory you might as well make kids in cars wear them as well.

Until improvements are made to road infrastructure (especially in the city) that, first and foremost, provides necessary protection to pedestrians and cyclists, terrible stories like this one will be a regular occurance. I am tired of the excuse that there isnt enough room. There is plenty of room - its just being occupied by cars right now. If creating safe streets for all users means inconveniencing drivers by taking lanes away to create legit sidewalks and protected bike lanes then so be it.

Good infrastructure = Perceived and actual safety = more people riding bikes and fewer people driving and THAT is what save lives.

http://vimeo.com/19807526

1 ( +4 / -3 )

"my wife is not allowed "

Allowed?

Allowed by whom?

5 ( +8 / -3 )

slumdog: "More infractions are committed by the younger crowd than the older. I think it is rather dangerous to focus on the age too much. Smacks of ageism."

Okay, so how many people driving in their 80s vs those in their 20s? You've got all the stats, so let me know.

0 ( +3 / -3 )

Well based on age demographics here these days, one would assume old folks are causing more accidents.

And yes, "allowed"? Yikes.

1 ( +2 / -1 )

nice excuses, but anyways i can blame both ...

-1 ( +1 / -2 )

Demographics don't matter one bit. In THIS case, we have an old man who killed a child and put her mother in critical. That's all that matters, and all that is tragic. Demographics can be argued differently.

-3 ( +1 / -4 )

Terrible. I sometimes ride the "mamachari" with my daughter but I always make sure that she is fully strapped into her seat. That way she will not be thrown out if the bike falls over. Her seat also has padding on all sides.

-1 ( +1 / -2 )

Terribly sad, but all to common story. I think helmets should be compulsory for ALL cyclists regardless of age and fines for not wearing them. It's like the days when you didn't have to wear them on motorbikes now. Be good for the manufacturers, too. Also with no sidewalks, just the pathetic, white lines which fade with age and drivers ignore anyway, why don't the authorities build speed bumps? @yokohamarides has it right IMHO

0 ( +2 / -2 )

Japanese news sources say that the driver had multiple sclerosis, according to his family.

1 ( +1 / -0 )

The fart pedal is the one all the way to the left dummy. It is used so you can lift you ass up and let the gas pain out. Don't they teach that at driver's training?

-3 ( +0 / -3 )

He said he then mistakenly pressed the accelerator instead of the brake.

Some less competent drivers in Japan, attempt the suicidal racing driver foot combination of left foot braking and right foot acceleration. I've seen it several times and it's scary. Left foot should never do anything in an automatic car. I hope for this old guy, this wasn't the case.

Last year a similar incident of impatient driver on a narrow road and me on a bike resulted with me grazing the wall and ripping my pants.

anyway, shocking accident, especially for the mom, cant imagine how she feels. Mr Takahashi, you goose, this one is on you.

why don't the authorities build speed bumps?

exactly, speed bumps , my kingdom for some speed bumps. The reason I've been told there are no speed bumps -the lowered cars (illegally lowered!) wouldn't get over them. Screw the losers with lowered cars, we need to make some meaningful changes to road safety

2 ( +4 / -2 )

Compulsory doctors' certificates for the over 70s (and anyone else who has suffered a major illness - insurance companies can help convince people by refusing payments if an unreported condition exists). And of course compulsory helmets for all cyclists and passengers - but who in their right mind takes a child on a bicycle without a helmet?

0 ( +2 / -2 )

I was not saying it is a bad thing to wear a helmet, I think helmets should always be worn. I was just saying that in this situation I probably would not have matter much.

4 ( +5 / -1 )

sink deep into me, could have been any one of us, could have been us, my daughter is 3 and my wife in her 30s..and i too ride my mamachari with my daughter...i feel sick at heart now...my deepest condolences...

1 ( +1 / -0 )

Let me play devil's advocate for a moment.

Those of you demanding that all cyclist wear helmets: who should pay for them? Since accidents in which a helmet would save the cyclist's life are entirely caused by automobiles, shouldn't the helmets be paid for by automobile drivers? (If there were no cars on the roads, cyclist falls and spills would only result in knee and hand injuries caused by attempting to break falls, and hip injuries too; the opportunity to hit the top of one's head falling off a bike at a slow speed is very small.)

When cycling at high speeds among traffic I think it's a good idea to wear a helmet. But making it the law will cause more problems than it solves. You ride a bike to work, and some prankster steals your helmet when you're at work -- now you can't get home without breaking the law?

And how do you justify making cyclists pay a fine if they don't wear a helmet? They're only putting themselves in danger, not anyone else.

And we've seen plenty of instances of drivers hitting pedestrians -- should pedestrians be forced to wear them, too? Maybe we could make the entire population outfit themselves in metal armor just so that they'll be safer if some incompetent automobile driver hits them?

Let's put the blame where it belongs: on the people who operate machines that can kill innocent human beings with a simgle moment of inattentiveness (seriously? mistaking the brake for the accelerator?), yet can't operate them competently. It may be good sense for cyclists to equip themselves so as to be safer, but ultimately it is the party with the capacity to injure that must be the one bearnig responsibility for the injuries they cause.

-3 ( +4 / -7 )

It has been one of us. I got hit by a car while riding my bike. I latter found out he fell asleep in which could have been this case also as he was slumped over the wheel and I am sure he was doing 80km/h because his foot got heavy on the pedal when he slept. He just told the cops he didn't see me which I guess was technically correct. I needed two operations to put my hand back together but thank God because another 2cm closer would have been almost certain death. My guardian angel was working hard that day (BTW don't say he wasn't working because you got hit please?).

All riders should wear a helmet because even the most simple fall off your bike and hitting your head in the wrong place means brain damage or death.and more than law it should be just self preservation. I see too many moms who don't protect their kids heads on bikes and I believe it is law now that they have helmets at young ages so why don't the cops ever enforce it?

As for the probability of a helmet making the difference in this case we can't tell but surely it improves chances an every case.

1 ( +2 / -1 )

kickback: "Terrible. I sometimes ride the "mamachari" with my daughter but I always make sure that she is fully strapped into her seat"

And how will that help her if the back falls over and she cracks her head? Do you also, in your making sure things are good, make her wear a helmet?

ThonTaddeo: "Those of you demanding that all cyclist wear helmets: who should pay for them?"

The people who ride the bicycles, and for their 'passengers'. That is common sense in any nation on the planet.

"And how do you justify making cyclists pay a fine if they don't wear a helmet? They're only putting themselves in danger, not anyone else."

Not true at all. If a person, and I'm sorry but usually a mom racing through a red light, is hit and topples over and her kids are killed (and/or her) because of the lack of a helmet, the blame goes to the car because it is the bigger vehicle. That's Japanese law. Making people wear a helmet or pay a fine ensures a certain amount of safety in cases where a bike spills over (mom has shopping bags, two kids, and an umbrella hanging from the bike) where it would not be without said helmet. The better question is how on earth do you think not wearing a helmet is safe?

"And we've seen plenty of instances of drivers hitting pedestrians -- should pedestrians be forced to wear them, too? Maybe we could make the entire population outfit themselves in metal armor just so that they'll be safer if some incompetent automobile driver hits them?"

Let's call that comparing apples to cockroaches instead of apples to oranges, given how the comparison is completely out to lunch.

-5 ( +1 / -6 )

I've met more safe drivers in the 80's than those in their 20's. Fault is with the driver, not their age.

The fact is that 20 year olds have the skills to drive but take risks while an 80 year old just plain does not have the skills left to drive. Need to be tested yearly from age 60 for vision, reaction time and general character. Take these tired geezers out of the car and less kids, rare enough now in Japan, will not be run over by them.

IN this case clearly the driver hit the bike and saw what he did and then tried to get away. Jail time.

4 ( +4 / -0 )

Its pigging obvious this guy is lying through his teeth. You dont drive 100meters before realizing eyour foot is not on the brake. He hit them, tried to get away and couldnt as they were hooked to the car. Had he not done that, the little girl might still be alive.

@MrTestsworth - I assume then that you drive your wife everywhere she needs to go with the kids then? Good for you!. Sadly most of us dont have husbands who can drop everything to help whenever the need arises and a mamachari is simply the most convenient option - sometimes its the only option. But yes, I see as many reckless riders as I do drivers. Its a miracle this doesnt happen more often. I was nearly wiped out on my mamachari not so long ago by another bicycle, on the road, who figured as he was a bike he didnt have to obey the red light allowing me to cross at the crossing. He just came straight through at high speed and how he missed us is a mystery.

2 ( +3 / -1 )

I ride a Japanese "mom bike" with my two kids on. We all wear helmets. I can not understand why you'd put your kids on bikes without them?! Especially in Japan. No matter whose fault once you're in a accident, the helmet saves lives. My heart breaks to read this because as a mom I can't imagine you'll ever forgive yourself, such an simple precaution.. RIP little one...

I must have missed the part in the article where it says they bike riders were not wearing helmets. Or are you just assuming something based on the faulty logic that the child wouldn't have died if she had been wearing a helmet?

Helmets are not shields. They're mainly designed to reduce abrasion injury to the head in case of a fall, but have very little in way of protection against blunt force trauma. That's not a knock on bike helmets in particular because ALL helmets suffer from that weakness. When your skull is suddenly stopped from going in a certain direction or suddenly accelerated by an external force, inertia means your brain continues in whatever state it was in previously until it smashes up against the inside of the skull. Your skull can be protected perfectly by the helmet, but your brain has been fatally damaged. If you're struck in the head by a car, all a bicycle helmet will do for you is keep all the parts of your skull in one place for the authorities to collect.

6 ( +6 / -0 )

Age not relevant.City drivers and Cyclists these days are disrespectful.Walk and watch your step.I see a close encounter at least 5 days a week.RIP

-1 ( +0 / -1 )

To those complaining of Japan's narrow roads and blaming them for these deaths, please remember that Japan has fewer traffic deaths than the US, Australia and Canada, the countries with the widest streets. Wide streets are not necessarily all that safer because they incite drivers to drive faster and to ignore pedestrians. Narrow streets like those in Japan force drivers to be more careful and wary of pedestrians, this realization of risks and dangers paradoxically lead to more safety.

Even in the US, studies have shown that "skinny" streets are safer than typical wide residential streets. An unsafe street perceived as unsafe may be in practice safer than a safe street perceived as safe.

3 ( +4 / -1 )

Making people wear a helmet or pay a fine ensures a certain amount of safety in cases where a bike spills over (mom has shopping bags, two kids, and an umbrella hanging from the bike) where it would not be without said helmet. The better question is how on earth do you think not wearing a helmet is safe?

Smith, you've moved the conversation from bicyclists in general to a very specific subset of bicyclists who are engaging in particularly accident-prone behavior and have perhaps the least mobility of anyone on the roads, including pedestrians. There's a big difference between a single adult riding a bicycle and a mother balancing two child seats plus shopping bags and an umbrella. (And now you're talking about such a mother who runs through a red light!)

If we look at every possible way to increase safety and then make them mandatory, we'll never be finished. I feel that for medium-speed riders like myself, knee pads and padded gloves or even some kind of chin guard would do more for safety than helmets, since those are the parts of the body that are more likely to hit the ground in the event of an accident than the top of a rider's head. A high-speed rider who leans over the handlebars with his head hunched forward is probably going to be more interested in head-protecting gear.

Ultimately the rider has to be the one to decide which parts of the body need protection, and in what way, not the lawmakers. Particularly given the over-representation of automoble drivers and under-representation of cyclists among lawmakers.

3 ( +3 / -0 )

What a shame... some stupid old jiji hits a woman and her child on a bike, and then proceeds to accelerate enough to where he drags them another 100 yards before a wall finally stops him. Now the two year old is dead. because "oh I had acute stomach pain" and "oh I mistakenly pressed the accelerator instead of the brake." Great! Hope he spends the rest of his life in prison. RIP Ayako.

2 ( +2 / -0 )

Sadly, he'll get a suspended sentence after he expresses regret for doing it.

0 ( +0 / -0 )

Instead of some of the building projects I see around like building new apartments that sit vacant or highways that go nowhere, maybe it is time for Japan to start something more practical like widening streets or making sidewalks. I know I will get the typical "there is not enough room in Japan, etc" argument, but I have seen them build large houses that the door opens right on the street, maybe it is time to do a little road work to make the roads a bit more safer for the public.

-1 ( +0 / -1 )

Those of you demanding that all cyclist wear helmets: who should pay for them?

How about the person riding the bike? Helmets don't only work when cars are invloved. Any idea how many kids/adults hit things and land on their head on their own?

And how do you justify making cyclists pay a fine if they don't wear a helmet? They're only putting themselves in danger, not anyone else. Wrong. As I said, there is a huge difference in charges with an accident and an accident where someone dies. If I were to hit someone I would hope they were wearing a helmet to lessen theri injuries and the chances of me being charged with a death of a cyclist.

Japan sells cyclist insurance. I think it should be mandatory like it is for car/bike/truck owners.

-3 ( +0 / -3 )

Nice discussion, let me add some fire by saying that private cars should not be allowed in cities at all. Specially busy metropolitan areas. There is absolutely no need to have a car - you can get everywhere and cheaper using public transport. People will be safer and healthier.

1 ( +3 / -2 )

Those of you demanding that all cyclist wear helmets: who should pay for them?

How about the person riding the bike? Helmets don't only work when cars are invloved.

Can you please just do a bit of reading on the subject before jumping on the helmet bandwagon. Its a highly contentious and complex issue, many experts are against mandatory helmet laws and some studies have shown that countries that make them mandatory aren't any safer for cyclists.

If I were to hit someone I would hope they were wearing a helmet to lessen theri injuries and the chances of me being charged with a death of a cyclist.

Just focus on not hitting anyone. Perhaps this over-exaggeration of the benefits of the cycle helmet is why, as some studies have shown, motorists give helmet-wearing cyclists less room and take more chances with them.

1 ( +3 / -2 )

Condolences to the woman and her family. It seems she was not in the wrong here but tragedy found her anyway.I Sorry to hear about the death of such a young child who had her life ended due to the carelessness of one person. It could easily have been me and I always reflect when I hear about something like this. The majority of roads in this area of Japan are not good for riding a bicycle, nor for driving, for that matter, and many drivers are seriously inattentive to what's going on. Some look at cyclists as just annoyances. I somewhat understand as I too sometimes get annoyed by mamachari cyclists, especially the ones who seem to think ringing their bell equals one should get out of their way because they own the sidewalk. However, many drivers may not realize it but their thinking is different for bicycles than for cars just simply because their subconscious tells them that a bicycle cannot do much damage to a car, and, therefore, to them. It makes most drivers' actions different. I ride long distances on the main roads in Kanagawa and sometimes in Shizuoka about 3 or 4 times a week and I love it when people come on here and say they've never been at fault in an accident as if that makes them a good driver. MOST drivers cut me off any chance they get and when someone is coming from a store parking lot, gas station, etc, from the left side, they are usually only thinking of getting out before I get there, not being as safe as possible. "Safety driving" is the farthest thing from their minds at that point. After cutting me off, they look in the rear-view mirror and probably think they weren't that close and swear they did nothing wrong. The truth is, it was I who prevented an accident because I knew what you were going to do and was squeezing the brakes as tightly as possible so you could continue to boast about having that gold-colored stripe on your license and I could continue to have a life here on earth. That said, I've still been hit by cars (luckily, at fairly slow speeds) four times from all different angles and have avoided accidents hundreds of other times due to knowing drivers' tendencies and predicting what they were going to do. It's tough riding a bicycle out there and I know cyclists are at fault in a lot of instances but drivers need to be more attentive and the government needs to do more. Make bike lanes with consistent sizes, in the road and on sidewalks, give out tickets for parking or even walking in those lanes, and also to people who don't wear helmets, etc. Wear your helmets and protective clothing and keep your eyes peeled at all times fellow cyclists!

0 ( +1 / -1 )

Can you please just do a bit of reading on the subject before jumping on the helmet bandwagon. Its a highly contentious and complex issue, many experts are against mandatory helmet laws and some studies have shown that countries that make them mandatory aren't any safer for cyclists.

Back that up with links please. I cycle. All the time. I wear a helmet because I know if I go off my bike and hit my head that helmet will help lessen the damage. If you want to think elsewise, be my guest. I'd rather be safer than go without - which is also why I have lights, reflection tape and the like. I have a responsibility to myself and family to try and be safe. Shame you don't see it that way. Good help you if you ever hit a cyclist who dies of a head injury.

-4 ( +0 / -4 )

Alphaape

Instead of some of the building projects I see around like building new apartments that sit vacant or highways that go nowhere, maybe it is time for Japan to start something more practical like widening streets or making sidewalks. I know I will get the typical "there is not enough room in Japan, etc" argument, but I have seen them build large houses that the door opens right on the street, maybe it is time to do a little road work to make the roads a bit more safer for the public.

The only way to widen most streets in Japan would be to destroy the buildings on either side. Very expensive for no good reason.

The big arterial roads from what I've seen do have sidewalks and are pretty wide, it's residential streets that are very narrow with doors giving directly on the street. And you know what? It's better that way. Countries that make systemically wide streets even in residential areas aren't any safer than Japan in terms of traffic deaths, they're generally worse. Wide streets give an illusion of safety, but make drivers drive too fast and not pay attention to pedestrians and cyclists. The narrow Japanese streets in residential areas make drivers realize that they share the road, the whole road, with other people and to drive more carefully. Because they are perceived as less safe... they are actually safer. It's called risk compensation.

Wide streets make sense on highways, NOT in residential areas.

Furthermore, widening streets and adding sidewalks would just make walking and biking harder in Japan by increasing distances and clearly giving the road to cars instead of signaling that residential streets are shared streets where pedestrians and bikes have just as much right to be there as cars. Of all the things Japan can import from overseas, a car-centric urbanism and culture is pretty much the biggest one to never, EVER import.

2 ( +2 / -0 )

Back that up with links please.

One example is http://www.ncbi.nlm.nih.gov/pmc/articles/PMC1410838/ you can easily search for more.

I cycle. All the time. I wear a helmet because I know if I go off my bike and hit my head that helmet will help lessen the damage. If you want to think elsewise, be my guest. I'd rather be safer than go without - which is also why I have lights, reflection tape and the like. I have a responsibility to myself and family to try and be safe. Shame you don't see it that way.

Yeah I'm with you on all that. The people I see cycling without lights on the road in the dark, well I've always thought they must be suicidal or something. I do want people to be safe, helmets are great but I think exaggerating the benefits of cycle helmets designed for low-speed impacts can shift the focus away from developing good riding skills and awareness that I think are more important.

Good help you if you ever hit a cyclist who dies of a head injury.

Let me make it clear, I'm not opposed to helmets, I'm just skeptical about mandatory helmet laws.

2 ( +2 / -0 )

Wide streets give an illusion of safety, but make drivers drive too fast and not pay attention to pedestrians and cyclists. The narrow Japanese streets in residential areas make drivers realize that they share the road, the whole road, with other people and to drive more carefully. Because they are perceived as less safe... they are actually safer. It's called risk compensation.

Can you provide documentation on that? From what I have seen here in Japan is that the pedestrian thinks that they have the right of way, and they do but they don't understand the laws of physics. Even going at the posted residental speed limit, if someone just jumps into the street of an oncoming car simply for the fact that they are at a crosswalk, a car may not be able to stop in time and the end result could be tragic for the pedestrian. I have actually had to speak at a local Japan traffic safety campaign as part of my job here, and the main emphasis was for the pedestrians and bicyclist to be aware of the road. They also share it and need to follow the rules.

Of all the things Japan can import from overseas, a car-centric urbanism and culture is pretty much the biggest one to never, EVER import.

I think that it would go a long way in helping people realize that as pedestrians that they are part of the road and need to be aware. As far as not being drivers here in Japan, you can see it in a fairly innoncent place, a grocery store. You can tell the people who don't normally drive by the way they wheel their carts in the store going helter skelter everywhere as compared to those who are used to following the rules of the road and recognize that they are not the only ones on the street. That's just my opinion.

-1 ( +0 / -1 )

Wide streets give an illusion of safety, but make drivers drive too fast and not pay attention to pedestrians and cyclists. The narrow Japanese streets in residential areas make drivers realize that they share the road

This is absolutely true. People tend to go faster on wider streets than narrower streets because the wider street projects less sensation of speed. This is why on some curves on Japanese expressways, there are two sets of dashed lines in the middle of two sets of solid lines on the lanes. This gives the illusion that the road is narrower than it really is so that people would slow down.

Helmets DO help, but only to an extent. There are not end all be all to safety equipment but they do make a difference in minor to moderate falls.

However, in this case, its hard to say. The article says that the girl was thrown off, but it doesn't say whether or not she was being dragged by the car with the bike. If she was being dragged too, there would be no way that a helmet would have made any difference.

0 ( +1 / -1 )

I think exaggerating the benefits of cycle helmets designed for low-speed impacts can shift the focus away from developing good riding skills and awareness that I think are more important.

Then THAT is what you shouldn't said, rather than make comments about joining a "bandwagon", no? I don't think helmets shift focus away from that at all. Those who buy them are buying them for a reason and it isn't because they "have" to.

I 100% agree riding awareness is an issue - more so in a country that doesn't have cycling safety lessons at schools - I asked my students that last week and NONE of them had ever had any road safety classes and were shocked when I told them a) they are suppose to ride with traffic and b) that Canada has lessons on this at ele school. Japan is failing it's public yet again.

-1 ( +0 / -1 )

guys, the size of the road does not matter at all, the guy veered into the bike so it might as well have been two lanes

1 ( +2 / -1 )

According to another article I read, the mother and daughter were hit from behind, and both dragged until the car hit the wall, so they weren't knocked off like the JT article suggests. The other articles also say that the child was wearing a seat restraint which is why she didn't fall off and ultimately dragged under the car 100 meters. Since she was wearing restraints, it could be that she was also wearing a helmet as well.

0 ( +0 / -0 )

Since she was wearing restraints, it could be that she was also wearing a helmet as well.

Or she might not have been. Why the suggestion? Most child seats on bikes have straps. They should sell them as a set.

-3 ( +0 / -3 )

From what I have seen here in Japan is that the pedestrian thinks that they have the right of way, and they do but they don't understand the laws of physics. Even going at the posted residental speed limit, if someone just jumps into the street of an oncoming car simply for the fact that they are at a crosswalk, a car may not be able to stop in time and the end result could be tragic for the pedestrian. I have actually had to speak at a local Japan traffic safety campaign as part of my job here, and the main emphasis was for the pedestrians and bicyclist to be aware of the road. They also share it and need to follow the rules.

It's important to follow the rules, yes, but when pedestrians are forced to share wide streets with vehicles that go very fast, they are reasonable scared and will be afraid to walk for any length on them. The end result isn't that you increase safety, it's that you discourage walking as a mode of transport and increase the use of cars, the message given is "If you want to be safe, drive a car!". Drivers also start believing that the road is for them, and exclusively for them, and the result is a much more aggressive and dangerous driving style.

Also, actually it's the Japanese pedestrians and cyclists who respect best the rules of right-of-way. American and Canadian pedestrians and cyclists are so (reasonably) scared of the aggressive drivers in their own countries that they act excessively defensively and do not demand that rules of right-of-way that give them priority be respected. North American tourists in Japan will almost inevitably face a situation where they are at a crosswalk and hesitate to go even though cars are stopping to let them pass, because they are so used to drivers ignoring them or even honking at them if they try to cross.

All driving laws in industrialized countries say basically the same thing: the bigger the vehicle you drive, the more you are responsible for everyone else's safety and have to be careful. Car drivers need to watch out for cyclists and pedestrians, and cyclists must watch out for pedestrians. But in North America, it's the opposite that happens in real life because of bad street design and urban planning: pedestrians are forced to watch out for cyclists and cars because cyclists and drivers don't watch out for them and aren't careful. And that's not a good thing, at all. Japan has it right, we have it wrong (speaking as a Canadian).

2 ( +3 / -1 )

Forget about helmets, narrow roads, child seats, etc.

The mother and child were dragged for 100 METERS! That's about the length of a football field.

The ass behind the wheel KILLED the girl & almost killed her mother. The sound and obstruction of two humans and a bike would have been extremely obvious. This is murder.

1 ( +1 / -0 )

Alphaape wrote:

Even going at the posted residental speed limit, if someone just jumps into the street of an oncoming car simply for the fact that they are at a crosswalk, a car may not be able to stop in time and the end result could be tragic for the pedestrian. I have actually had to speak at a local Japan traffic safety campaign as part of my job here, and the main emphasis was for the pedestrians and bicyclist to be aware of the road.

If you really do speak at such traffic campaigns, I hope you know that it is the driver's responsibility to slow down to under 10 km/h when a person is near a crosswalk, regardless of any perceived intention to cross or not on the part of the pedestrian.

Though it couldn't have hurt, being stuck to a bike and dragged 100 meters then hitting a wall is tough for any adult to take let alone a 2-year-old.

2 ( +2 / -0 )

"a narrow road with no sidewalks"

There's a whole bunch of these in Japan.

This is tragic.

0 ( +0 / -0 )

If you really do speak at such traffic campaigns, I hope you know that it is the driver's responsibility to slow down to under 10 km/h when a person is near a crosswalk, regardless of any perceived intention to cross or not on the part of the pedestrian.

I personally do slow down, but it is also on the pedestrian to follow the rules. I have seen it where some will just stand and talk at a cross walk, and while the careful driver will pause and slow down to allow them to cross because that's what they believe, they will just stand there as if nothing else in the world matters and when finished saying their "good byes" will just walk out like there is no one else but them. Also, during my presentation, it was the J-Cops themselves who were leading the campaign, geared to the Japanese audience to remind them of the rules of the road and that they too need to be aware of what they are doing on the street.

0 ( +0 / -0 )

Isn't it illegal to transport babes on bikes? Oh wait, that's right - it WAS, but the J-gov decided convenience trumps saftety of kids (reference the "my child wasn't in a childseat because he/she was crying, officer" rule), and revoked the law.

Whooops!

-1 ( +0 / -1 )

Login to leave a comment

Facebook users

Use your Facebook account to login or register with JapanToday. By doing so, you will also receive an email inviting you to receive our news alerts.

Facebook Connect

Login with your JapanToday account

User registration

Articles, Offers & Useful Resources

A mix of what's trending on our other sites