crime

Gov't to tighten penalties for dangerous bicycle riding

59 Comments

The government has finalized details for tougher penalties for "dangerous" bicycle riding, which includes using smartphones while on a bike.

Up until recently, individuals caught and charged with dangerous operation of a bicycle were given verbal warnings, and or handed a ticket for violating traffic laws. Inn June 2013, the government passed a law stating that repeat offenders would be obligated to take a safety course.

This week, cabinet officials decided upon 14 "dangerous" operation guidelines for which offenders will be penalized, NTV reported Wednesday.

These include ignoring traffic lights, riding while intoxicated, using a smartphone while riding a bike, riding bikes without brakes and ignoring crossing gates at train tracks. Should a person (over the age of 14) be charged more than two times in a span of three years, he or she may be fined up to 50,000 yen and be obligated to attend a three-hour safety course before being allowed to return to the road.

The new law goes into effect on June 1 this year.

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59 Comments
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people aged 70 and over should be banned from riding bicycle.

-7 ( +12 / -20 )

Bwahahahahahahahah! They can 'say' anything they like, but enforcing it is a different story! How about kids under 13 wearing helmets and riding a bicycle while holding an umbrella. These laws came into play a few years ago, not that anyone would notice.

I also agree with the above comment about vehicle drivers running red lights. I have a hobby of counting how many cars go through red lights after they turn red. My record is six, so far. However, running a red light is only a ¥9,000 fine and one point off your license. Absurd!

6 ( +10 / -5 )

Some rules are fine, but they should go along with other measures, such as creating designated bicycle routes throughout the city. The Olympics would be a great chance to showcase to the world how progressive and green friendly Japan has become, especially after it showcased its failed approach on 3.11.

9 ( +10 / -1 )

I love how only 'smart' phones are listed, I guess it is okay to use a regular cell phone?

I agree with getting stricter about dangerous behaviour, but around where I live at least it probably wouldn't change much since I rarely see police on patrol, and I spend a lot of time walking around the city each day. A lot of time nearly being hit by cars and bicycles. (not to mention pedestrians, but they are easier to dodge)

2 ( +4 / -2 )

Sounds wonderful on paper, but the police could barely enforce car traffic laws, how do they expect to do this?

9 ( +12 / -3 )

Sounds wonderful on paper, but the police could barely enforce car traffic laws, how do they expect to do this?

Mirai -- spot on. Not going to get enforced unless the cops get their butts out of their kobans and actually perfrom a public safety function.

1 ( +7 / -6 )

I wish they would do something about those cyclist riding on often-crowded sidewalks who, silently, come right up behind pedestrians and then suddenly ring their bell incessantly. This has happened to me many times, and I jump out of my skin every time.

8 ( +9 / -1 )

Yeah, yeah...

Sounds beautiful and all, but, until these clods called police officers find some incentive for actually taking action, not one thing will change. It just won't. They have plenty of law as it is to back them up and dealing with idiots riding recklessly, ignoring anyone/anything but their selfish selves. This fanatsy idea of putting people in classes to get them to change their ways is ridiculous. To deal with bicyclists going crazy, the only thing that will work are fines. If money isn't involved, Japanese won't take it seriously, so fine the sh!t out of them.

6 ( +10 / -4 )

In my realm - before that eventuates - pigs might fly.

4 ( +7 / -3 )

The Olympics would be a great chance to showcase to the world how progressive and green friendly Japan has become, especially after it showcased its failed approach on 3.11.

Exactly. It would be a great opportunity. Unfortunately, I don't think the boys in power at all understand what would impress people from some other countries these days. The geezers here love to talk about how to impress the world with 'Japan's engineering skills' and whatnot. Just like back in '64. Some social evolution would impress more.

Regarding the bike lanes, they are there. Where I live, they painted some of thos a few years back. Of course, no campaigning for that, resulting in most people not using them. Also humorous is seeing cars parked in those lanes with the youngish omawarisan navigating around them, not so much of a word.

3 ( +6 / -3 )

Dude, where:s the umbrella? An umbrella drastically reduces line of sight. It also makes it appear that you are a pedestrian and not a cyclist.

If someone has headphones connected to a smartphone they are probably talking with SIRI or using verbal commands to operate the device. Riding a bicycle with an umbrella open is suicidal and just plain stupid.

2 ( +6 / -4 )

Riding with an Umbrella has been illegal/fineable for many, many years.

In my town the cops routinely park at intersections to stop offenders, cops are usually on bicycles or motorbikes.

In 18yrs still haven't been stopped once for a check.

2 ( +3 / -1 )

Ban bicycles from sidewalk , once on road, you'll see how their dangerous habit will change.

-2 ( +6 / -8 )

+1 to the running red lights one. The amount of times I have had a stare down with drivers that REFUSE to stop for a pedestrian zone or when its red is mind-boggling.

BUT, Not only cars, there are some sshl* cyclists as well that just take the last effort to cross while its red, so that cars have to jump on their breaks.

5 ( +7 / -2 )

Citizen2000.

Already done for sidewalks that have a width less than 3 metres(used to be 2), over the last 7 years the laws/rules changed a LOT.

But people don't keep themselves informed or just ignore them.

3 ( +4 / -1 )

They should start by teaching the police how to ride a bicycle. They are always going the wrong way on the one-way streets. I also see them on narrow sidewalks where bicycles should be on the street.

5 ( +7 / -2 )

"Ignore them" are the words, they sometimes also vandalized the BICYCLE signs and remove them, at least here at Kanamecho Toshimaku, ride on pedestrain side on the crossroad (all the time) , they are riding the pedestrian side also on the sidewalk even there is a big bicycle drawing on the road (happening all the time), 90% of bicycle riders here are irresponsible and not respecting laws and... pedestrian.

-1 ( +2 / -3 )

Ban bicycles from sidewalk , once on road, you'll see how their dangerous habit will change.

To be honest, I find it safer riding on the road than on the sidewalk. Cars don't stop for pedestrians or bicylces when they come out from side streets to join the main road. But they do stop for cars. As someone who has almost been hit numerous times from cars like these, I've just decided to stay on the roads from now on.

3 ( +4 / -1 )

browny1

In my realm - before that eventuates - pigs might fly.

Browny Air NZ cabin Hostess's are living proof that pigs do in fact fly.

-7 ( +1 / -8 )

Needs enforcement. The satsu need to lead by example and not ignore all the rules also. riding on pavement needs to be stopped.

1 ( +3 / -2 )

In my little corner of town, we have cycle lanes painted on the road, which seem to perform a ceremonial function only.

Sections of the cycle lanes are narrower than a cycle tyre. To use the cycle lane would involve banging your pedals on the pavement. Thus you have to drive in the traffic.

Other sections are certainly wide enough to use in safety, but they are punctuated by gomi collection points, telegraph poles, lampposts and red bollards. Thus you have to weave in and out of the traffic if you are to use them at all.

I wrote to my city office about the problem, and have yet to receive the courtesy of a reply. Still, why worry when the rozzers can pretend they're at all interested in road safety by harassing teenage girls? They don't seem too interested in stopping bosozoku gangs, however.

5 ( +7 / -2 )

The elderly and Mummies on bikes are the dangerous ones.

2 ( +5 / -3 )

How about giving a financial penalty to parents who ride on MAJOR busy roads with their kids at 20 when the traffic is doing 80 and they swerve into the main stream cause they can't handle the weight of the bike and are using one hand to hold their umbrella!? Seriously dangerous and a regular sight.

2 ( +5 / -3 )

Cyclists who don't follow the - already established rules - or common sense, put themselves, pedestrians and drivers at risk. If you have to slam your brakes on because some stupid cyclist has just come out in front of you, you risk having the car behind you slam into you. That's dangerous and preventable.

maxjpank: I wish the police would make more of an effort to stop motorists ignoring red traffic signals, instead of focusing on the much easier to bully cyclists.

You find that to be true because it is. Numerous studies have proven this to be true and still, many people I talk to here about this, refuse to believe it.

http://brenthugh.com/piano/bikesafetyfactsheet.html https://onelesscar.wordpress.com/2008/06/11/risks-of-sidewalk-versus-road-bicycling/ http://www.bike.cornell.edu/pdfs/Sidewalk_biking_FAQ.pdf

Sensato: I wish they would do something about those cyclist riding on often-crowded sidewalks who, silently, come right up behind pedestrians and then suddenly ring their bell incessantly. This has happened to me many times, and I jump out of my skin every time.

It is illegal to ring your bell, except in the case of an emergency and I don't think "Get out of my way! I want to go faster." qualifies as an emergency. As with most cycling laws here, it's a matter of lack of enforcement.

FrankThornton: They should start by teaching the police how to ride a bicycle.

That would help but the ideal would be to teach children how to ride properly and to encourage them to do so. I honestly think that for most adults, the concept of using common sense and obeying the laws (of which they usually know nothing), is a lost cause. Sort the kids out, make sure their parents are fined heavily when the young ones break the cycling laws and eventually cyclists here will learn.

0 ( +3 / -3 )

I had like to mention also traffic light made such of way that you always have cars crossing the crossroad even when the traffic light is green for pedestrian to cross, why have traffic light then ?

1 ( +3 / -2 )

Please what took you so long? a total halt on stop signs and red lights must be enforced just as for cars and motorcycles. And no more carrying three babies on them while talking on their cell phone!

-2 ( +2 / -4 )

citizen2000

I think that's an extremely good point. I got deleted for saying the exact same thing, though.

2 ( +4 / -2 )

I see they didn't mention about riding bikes with no lights and I'm talking about front and back lights.Also no one seems to know how to use the bell on the bike.Question is will we see an improvement ? Answer ,NO ! With all the people that uses bikes in Japan they just don't have the man power to enforce it. Riding a bike with an umbrella is just stupid but I've seen the police doing it too so what does that say about the law?

2 ( +4 / -2 )

all forms of transport (from trucks and cars thru bicycles to even pedestrians) in Japan appear to be frequently used (is that right??) by folks who are oblivious to their surroundings, heedless of the applicable rules and laws or just downrifgt mentally deficient. the number of dangerous or foolhardy acts one sees on the rodas and pavement and even indoors in buildings is truly amazing.....

6 ( +7 / -1 )

The government has finalized details for tougher penalties for “dangerous” bicycle riding, which includes using smartphones while on a bike.

About time! I would love to see it being enforced. Perhaps hit the offenders with a 5-10,000 yen fine. On the other hand they could copy Australia and have undercover, plainclothes police to catch offenders

-4 ( +2 / -6 )

"citizen2000 Ban bicycles from sidewalk , once on road, you'll see how their dangerous habit will change."

Actually, it is illegal to ride a bicycle on the sidewalk, but everyone does, including the cops, it so it`s ok! The most severe punishment is for cyclists riding on the road in the wrong direction (against the traffic).

1 ( +2 / -1 )

50,000 yen and a THREE hour safety lecture! Whoa! Thats getting "tough" (not)

-1 ( +2 / -3 )

At nights sometimes school kids in black uniforms ride with no lights on, except their phones texting or doing some online game.

It makes me wonder if some of the school uniform rules here are actually intended to cause accidents or deaths on the roads, especially in winter.

Also, some of the old people here on bicycles !! - it surely is an achievement of balance to ride a bike more slowly than they can walk and still stay upright.

2 ( +5 / -3 )

The most severe punishment is for cyclists riding on the road in the wrong direction (against the traffic).

Yes, people do seem to have a problem with this. Drive on the left, walk and cycle on the right

-1 ( +1 / -2 )

The issue is that we are dealing with people. People do stupid things. Pedestrian, bike riders, car drivers.

As a pedestrian and driver, I have experienced idiotic behavior from all parties.

Bikes are very careless in general as they think they are pedestrians, but obviously are not. If you're going fast, you should be treated as a vehicle. They dart out from blind spots, across red lights, wrong way of the road. I don't mind slow paced riders on the side walk, as long as they are cautious.

I will be pleased when they enforce the bike rules as that may prevent me from one day hitting a bike rider.

0 ( +3 / -3 )

Fair enough bikes need attention but you can you toughen the driving penalties for young women speeding, using a mobile, drinking a coffee , smoking a cigarette all at the same time while one metre behind me then attempting first to pass on the inside on a single lane road and then on the outside over yellow lines. Bicycles need attention for sure and some of the thing I see are dangerous especially women riding with a child on the back with no helmet, crossing on unmarked parts of the road or diagonally across intersections and then continuing down the street zig zaging all over the place because they are texting at the same time. Or the mothers with unrestrained children. Flying through give way signs. Lots and lots to to get tough on when it comes to road rules.

1 ( +6 / -5 )

all forms of transport (from trucks and cars thru bicycles to even pedestrians) in Japan appear to be frequently used (is that right??) by folks who are oblivious to their surroundings, heedless of the applicable rules and laws or just downrifgt mentally deficient. the number of dangerous or foolhardy acts one sees on the rodas and pavement and even indoors in buildings is truly amazing.....

I get the exact same impression. At first, I was surprised. I had pictured Japan as a country with polite, rule-obeying people. Now, I have come to understand that not everything is what it seems in Japan. Rules are only followed if there are concequences. Riding a bike like a Neaderthal renders no punishment, hence people do as they please and the Koban Boys can sit on their asses and pretend not to see or hear. Much like those famous "see no evil, hear no evil, speak no evil" monkeys in Nikko...

Japanese bike riders must be the most ignorant in the world. As was said above, some actual training for kids might improve this. Considering, though, that parents seem completely oblivious to respecting pedestrians, there's probably not much hope of those people teaching better skills/manners.

I have come to think, that to get bicyclists to wake the hell up, you have to collide with them, squeezing them against walls so that they cannot ride. As they get all agressive, you get their attention and can take a discussion, right there on the street, hopefully inconveniencing these incredibly selfish a-holes.

I have a crossing where I live, and it is like stuff I have seen from India on YouTube. The cars drive OK, but the bike people ride like there's no tomorrow. If the coppers would just taken an hour a week, standing there catching offenders, they would have brought order to that place quickly. But they don't. Beats me why. Mendokusai, perhaps.

-2 ( +3 / -5 )

In my town, the young koban cop stands on the corner where there is a stop sign. While cars blatantly ignore the stop sign totally, he stops high school girls on bikes and harasses them. So sad.

Stop signs are art work. They mean nothing.

If they plan on stopping people with umbrellas, there will be some huge lines of people waiting for tickets. When it rains, what do they expect.

I do not plan on sitting on my bike at a red light in a useless place for a long period of time when there are no cars coming. What a waste.

7 ( +9 / -2 )

If they plan on stopping people with umbrellas, there will be some huge lines of people waiting for tickets. When it rains, what do they expect.

I have to agree. Holding an umbrella is the lesser evil, as long as you are looking where you are going. People can't say the same about texting cyclists

-1 ( +3 / -4 )

You can buy little doo dad things that bolt onto the handle bars for holding umbrellas so no need to ride one handed with the umbrella covering your line of vision while you pedal headlong into oncoming traffic and pedestrians.

Cycle sense and laws should be taught at school along with making sure bikes have front and rear lights, teach the kids early, and the cops should now start enforcing the rules on the momas and the old coots so they too become less idiotic and dangerous while riding their bikes.

0 ( +1 / -1 )

"people aged 70 and over should be banned from riding bicycle"

I know the average age of gaijin is low but it might be beneficial if some of you were forced into contact with these walking fossils so as to dispel such ridiculous ageism. My uncle still runs ultra marathons in his 70s. My father, also in his 70s, can no doubt outhike any of you on any trail you name. I imagine you'll have a different perspective when your own parents get older. In the meantime, Newsflash, folks in their 70s and 80s are often physically and mentally fine.

And for the record, if they are impaired in any way the state should step and remove their privileges but enough with the discrimination and talk of blanket bans.

8 ( +10 / -2 )

@jcapan

Absolutely. My old man's seventy-five and he's taking advanced driving lessons from a police driver.

Then again, he can never find his car keys...

2 ( +4 / -2 )

Apparently those doo-dads for holding an umbrella are also considered illegal as the wind can blow the umbrella into your face and maybe cause an accident. Gray areas abound. Where I live in Itabashi, they have lovely red brick lanes for bicycles on the sidewalks, and grey for peds. Guess where all the peds are ? Strolling all through the bike lane, totally oblivious as usual. Very spatially unaware they are. When I chastise them for it they unload a torrent of verbal abuse even though they are clearly in the wrong. Morally bankrupt as well. Big surprise.

4 ( +5 / -1 )

How about starting to fine and catch dangerous car drivers first ffs that and all em "blinkers" parked on the bike lanes. That said I do agree some people should not be allowed on a bicycle. Red light is a different matter - I think Japan, just because of ridiculous number of unnecessary traffic lights and large amount of cycling population should adopt the yield system where certain crossing would not require stopping but slowing down instead.

1 ( +3 / -2 )

I didn't know that it is only a ¥9000 yen fine for running a red light. It figures. You get a bigger fine for illegally parking on a suburban road at night than that!

0 ( +0 / -0 )

@some14some ... "people aged 70 and over should be banned from riding bicycle."

Check out this book blurb on amazon "More Than a Race: Four 70-Year-Old Cyclists Ride the Race Across America ... Leaving Oceanside CA on June 12, 2012, the team and their hard-working support crew of 15 raced to Annapolis MD in 6 days, 13 hours, 13 minutes, at an average of 19.04 mph. They not only broke the 70+ record by 27 hours, but also bested the 60+ record by more than 3 hours."

Not so many people can do that even in their youth. Mental and physical health is never guaranteed, but anyone can live a lifestyle which is more likely than not to result in their safely being able to ride a bicycle at 70+. You too!

4 ( +4 / -0 )

@it"S ME

Already done for sidewalks that have a width less than 3 metres(used to be 2), over the last 7 years the laws/rules changed a LOT. But people don't keep themselves informed or just ignore them.

The shitamachi obaasans & oyajis couldn't care less about anyone else, nor what they think. I did four hard years in the shitamachi of Tokyo and let me tell you - I've seen it all.

3 ( +3 / -0 )

@some14some ... "people aged 70 and over should be banned from riding bicycle."

They don't tolerate racism, sexual discrimination or other intolerance on here so why do you think this ageism statement should be treated differently, Some14some I expect you'll be walking everywhere when you get to 70 as I guess if you don't want old people on bikes then sure as hell you wouldn't want them driving a car. your discrimination is offensive.

4 ( +5 / -1 )

I have no problem with the rules, especially the one about smartphones. But I sure hope they finally enforce that for car drivers too! I see people babbling or even texting on their phones while driving all the time. Scary!

5 ( +5 / -0 )

How about those women with a fear of the sun! I walk 4 km or so a day and I see women on bicycles, scooters and driving cars with a hat, a LONG dark sunvisor and a bandana covering what seems to be everything except their eyes. I guess getting in a bad accident isn't as scary as getting some rays! Sheesh!

2 ( +3 / -1 )

You can buy little doo dad things that bolt onto the handle bars for holding umbrellas so no need to ride one handed with the umbrella covering your line of vision while you pedal headlong into oncoming traffic and pedestrians

Point taken

0 ( +1 / -1 )

Are you INSANE ?! I would NEVER do ANY of those things while riding a bike in Japan (aside from the DRUNK one, did that one, ONCE, coming home from work; 2am...streets were EMPTY. Cruised along the river side). Ain't NO WAY, you are taking your LIFE into your HANDS, doing any of those things.

0 ( +2 / -2 )

Red light is a different matter - I think Japan, just because of ridiculous number of unnecessary traffic lights and large amount of cycling population should adopt the yield system where certain crossing

I agree completely. A traffic light every 100 metres or so is a joke, especially when people are waiting patiently at empty crossings for the light to change - yet are ignoring other cycling rules

-2 ( +0 / -2 )

If police and the government as a whole were doing anything but lip-service here they could literally, ANY DAY of ANY WEEK of any month of any year walk out the front door of a Koban and ticket at least a dozen people in less than a minute. But they won't -- they'll selectively pick on certain people committing certain problems, if they do anything at all. They'll NEVER ticket the ojisan and obasan who ride on a side-walk illegally (and it's illegal if the sidewalk is less than three meters in width in Osaka, for example) and on the wrong side of the road, or the darth vader ladies with the parasols attached and open (also illegal), or the old ladies with shopping bags hanging off the handles, and I HIGHLY doubt they're going to do a darn thing about the person applying the useless, screeching breaks at an intersection.

I'm glad they're thinking of doing SOMETHING to combat the problems, but really, they could EASILY line their coffers and get the nation out of the red if they enforced current laws, never mind imposing new ones.

2 ( +6 / -4 )

Christopher GlenJan. 22, 2015 - 01:09PM JST The most severe punishment is for cyclists riding on the road in the wrong direction (against the traffic). Yes, people do seem to have a problem with this. Drive on the left, walk and cycle on the right ------------------------------------

You are absolutely right. It has become a big problem in Osaka. Everyone is riding their bikes against the traffic on main 2 way roads. I can understand cyclists cycling against traffic on a narrow one way road as there is not any other choice. General rule for cars is always to keep left and if cyclists keep to the opposite side there is enough room for safety. In our area, I have never seen the Police or school pupils on their bikes ride against on coming traffic. It is quite dangerous when a cyclist is on the right side of the road and then meets up with another cyclist going the wrong way leaving one of them to swerve out to the middle of the road.

-2 ( +2 / -4 )

smithinjapan

.......they could EASILY line their coffers and get the nation out of the red if they enforced current laws, never mind imposing new ones.

Haha I knew you know nothing about the national debt and economics lol

0 ( +1 / -1 )

Im surprised no now has mentioned MAMA CHARIs these things are obviously quite powerful and take up an awful lot of the sidewalk esp ones with two kids kitted - these things should be banned - bikes are designed for ONE person !

0 ( +3 / -3 )

Bicycles?

Wow, really? Why not focus their efforts on Bosozuka like Bloodaxe mentioned.

Im sure they're shadier than the average citizen on a friggn' bicycle.

1 ( +3 / -2 )

Wc626: Bicycles? Wow, really? Why not focus their efforts on Bosozuka like Bloodaxe mentioned. Im sure they're shadier than the average citizen on a friggn' bicycle.

Where in the article does it say that they won't continue to arrest Bosozuka who break the law? Where in the article does it say that they can only focus on one type of law-breaker? Just because a law has been passed outlining what behavior is not allowed whilst on a bicycle and what the punishment will be for breaking said law, does not mean people breaking other laws will get a pass. Do robbers get a pass because murder is a more serious crime? Do the police where ever you're from only deal with people breaking one specific law? How hard is it to understand that the police can actually deal with a gamut of law breakers and the enactment of this law doesn't come at the expense of dealing with other illegal behavior? Bicyclists may be low down the criminal pecking order but those who ride illegally not only create a great deal of daily stress for pedestrians and drivers but they also injure (and on occasion kill) pedestrians and cause traffic accidents. They shouldn't continue getting a pass just because there are more serious crimes. They may not bother you but if you read the comments whenever this topic comes up, you'll get a good idea of the near misses, accidents, injuries and headaches they cause many, many of the other posters.

1 ( +2 / -1 )

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