crime

Man arrested for riding brakeless bike in first such case

48 Comments

Police in Tokyo have arrested a man for riding a bike without brakes on the back wheel -- the first arrest of its kind.

Police said the unemployed 31-year-old man had been stopped by officers many times and cautioned to get brakes on his bicycle. TBS reported he was also given a ticket for being in violation of the Road Traffic Act. When the man refused to pay the fine, he was placed under arrest.

According to police, the man was first cautioned in March 2012 and then again in June 2012 for riding a competition style BMX bike on a public road in Tokyo's Yoyogi neighborhood. Police said the man has ignored the court summons seven times.

The man was quoted by police as saying he never thought he would be arrested for riding a bike without a brake on his rear wheel.

According to the National Police Agency, 3,956 violations by cyclists were logged in 2011, TBS reported Friday.

In Japan, the law requires that bicycles have both front and rear brakes. Failure to install both before riding on a public road is punishable by a fine of up to 50,000 yen.

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48 Comments
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And this is news?

-10 ( +7 / -17 )

seriously, the police must have better things to do than this. come on, j-police!

-12 ( +10 / -22 )

The man was quoted by police as saying he never thought he would be arrested for riding a bike without a brake on his rear wheel.

So, he thought the warnings were a joke?

18 ( +22 / -4 )

seriously, the police must have better things to do than this.

You might think differently if this guy smashed into you from behind.

23 ( +28 / -5 )

Banning these bikes is stupid. Some people actually have the skills to ride them safely. Therefore, they should require licenses. This is the way freedom loving people think.

Anyone who thinks they are just plain dangerous vehicles that should be banned with a heavy hand is welcome to post a list of accidents involving them and caused by the fact they had no brakes.

-25 ( +7 / -31 )

PersonaNonGrata,

A bike with no rear brake = free flying lessons.

15 ( +19 / -4 )

Well, I suppose the law is the law, but I'm sure the flops would have better things to do than just harassing one guy on his BMXer. How about cracking down on these clowns that accelerate through red lights. Wouldn't that be more inline with your duties? I nearly got cleaned up by one this morning.

0 ( +0 / -0 )

A bike with no rear brake = free flying lessons.

no, BMX riders use the front brake to control speed and in a lockup they skid the back wheel with their shoe acting as a brake against the rear wheel. You incorrectly made a wide sweeping generalisation, work for the police?

-16 ( +7 / -23 )

Spudman & others.

Why do we need laws & expert when seemingly jt-posters and others know best. Let's skip indicators, seatbelts,airbags, breaks, etc on motor vehicles. Let's also stop whining at the next vehicle recall due to safety concerns.

Any takers

6 ( +12 / -6 )

no, BMX riders use the front brake to control speed and in a lockup they skid the back wheel with their shoe acting as a brake against the rear wheel.

According to the news, the bike had no brakes. According to the rider, the bike had no brakes. He only used his foot and thought that was good enough. I guess you don't work for the police.

The man had been ticketed twice and refused to pay the fines. I am surprised he is suprised he was arrested.

http://www3.nhk.or.jp/news/html/20131111/k10015956891000.html

9 ( +12 / -3 )

Police said the unemployed 31-year-old man had been stopped by officers many times and cautioned to get brakes on his bicycle.

Maybe in this case the police had a legitimate reason to stop this guy, but I notice police in my neighbourhood always stopping poorer looking people and letting fancy riders go. I've also been stopped a few times just riding home on a Sunday from a soccer game and obeying traffic laws. Seems to be a lot of profiling going on.

Any similar experiences?

2 ( +4 / -2 )

So he wasn't really arrested for riding a fixie. He was arrested for failing to pay his fines. In this case, I feel a law demanding brakes is pretty reasonable. The way Japanese people ride, on sidewalks and what have you, they are just asking for accidents to happen. Brakes can at least minimize the risk.

4 ( +6 / -2 )

"Some people actually have the skills to ride them safely. Therefore, they should require licenses. This is the way freedom loving people think."

Requiring a license to ride a bicycle is not how freedom-loving people think.

However, riding a bicycle with no brakes is just plain stupid. It seems there WAS a brake on the front wheel, where most of the braking power is, but if that one fails, SOL. Be smart, have two brakes, or ride the "performance" bike on the course/track only. With freedom comes responsibility.

10 ( +12 / -2 )

According to the news, the bike had no brakes.

Did you watch the report? It had no rear brake, that thing in front of the cop's right hand holding the handlebar with the cable running out of it, is a brake. Don't believe everything you hear or don't watch.

-4 ( +4 / -8 )

Oh the stultifying reverence for absurdly detailed rules in this country...

-7 ( +4 / -11 )

Did you watch the report?

Yup, I did. Did you? Closely? The bike in the video was a display model in a bike shop they used as a reference and was not the bike in question. It said, 'This bike is a display model. We will put front and rear brakes on it before selling it.' At the end of the report, they also used footage of a bike with no brakes in front or the back as a reference. Better not to believe people that don't really look at the report.

7 ( +9 / -2 )

damn fixie-riding hipsters...

1 ( +2 / -1 )

Requiring a license to ride a bicycle is not how freedom-loving people think.

I will ask you nicely, just this once, to refrain from putting words in my mouth. We are not talking about bicycles in general. We are speaking of fixies.

That said, the minute it is reasonably suspected that any bicycle has a significant number of accidents due to rider incompetence on that particular type of bike, I will support licensing (Truth be told, I would prefer data to suspicion). When it is proven that even licensed riders cannot handle the bike, I will support a ban.

However, riding a bicycle with no brakes is just plain stupid.

This is not granny doing the shopping. To my knowledge, people who ride fixies are bicycle hobbyists and there are reasons they don't have back brakes. These people want to take their bikes places to practice their riding skills. Strapping the bike to their back is not practical. Taking brakes on and off would be a major hassle.

Be smart, have two brakes, or ride the "performance" bike on the course/track only.

Again, how to get there? In Tokyo, most people don't own a car.

With freedom comes responsibility.

And with no evidence that this person in particular has caused any accidents, or even that this sort of bike in question causes more accidents than any other bike, you advocate an instant ban, which is the direct opposite of freedom. Licensing would be that show of responsibility, if you really think there is greater danger.

And funny that you mention that brakes fail. They sure do! For reasons such as rain and ice. And if they do, who do you think is going to stop faster? The guy on a fixie used to having none or granny on the mama-chari tank full of groceries? Guess we got to ban mama charis now too?

-4 ( +3 / -7 )

So he wasn't really arrested for riding a fixie.

I could be mistaken, but I do not think the bike in question was a fixed wheel bike. I believe BMX bikes do not generally (ever?) have fixed rear wheels.

2 ( +2 / -0 )

Well that is what the article says slumdog. Who knows if its correct that its a BMX (which some people take the brakes off so they don't chicken out trying new tricks). I don't know all there is to know about bicycles, the people writing these stories surely don't either, and the people giving me thumbs down definitely don't.

Anyway, I would love to see some stats. My bet is that fully braked mama-charis have more street accidents even per capita than any bike out there. Some body prove me wrong. Make my day.

-5 ( +2 / -7 )

Sloppy journalism - the bike wasn`t "Brakeless". A good example of how people who ride bikes are demonized by the media at every opportunity.

-4 ( +5 / -9 )

"the unemployed 31-year-old man had been stopped by officers many times and cautioned to get brakes on his bicycle. "

"In Japan, the law requires that bicycles have both front and rear brakes. Failure to install both before riding on a public road is punishable by a fine of up to 50,000 yen."

If they'd fined him the 50,000 yen from the first time, maybe there wouldn't have been a second time.

3 ( +4 / -1 )

PNG

To my knowledge, people who ride fixies are bicycle hobbyists and there are reasons they don't have back brakes. These people want to take their bikes places to practice their riding skills. Strapping the bike to their back is not practical. Taking brakes on and off would be a major hassle...Again, how to get there? In Tokyo, most people don't own a car.

Not my concern nor is it the concern for anyone who places traffic safety as a priority over the inconvenience experienced by a very small number of hobbyists. There is no rational reason why an exception to the traffic law should be made regarding brakes for fixies or BMX bikes when any exception does indeed make them less safe than if they fully complied. It isn't a matter of who is riding it, a bicycle with one brake less safe than one with two brakes. Period.

The traffic law required this cyclist to ride his bicycle as part of vehicular traffic and it also required said bicycle to have both a frond and rear brakes. He chose not to comply to the second part, was given a citation for a moving violation as a vehicle, failed to pay it, then repeatedly ignored court summons he received. His failure was in assuming that his traffic ticket would be treated any differently from one given to a motorized vehicle. Not very smart IMO, but then again perhaps to be expected from an unemployed 31 year-old (probably a NEET) who rides around on a BMX bike. Road Safety 1 - 0 Scofflaw.

8 ( +10 / -2 )

Unemployed, He can not afford ? Brake?, fines?

-1 ( +1 / -2 )

The traffic law required this cyclist to ride his bicycle as part of vehicular traffic and it also required said bicycle to have both a frond and rear brakes.

Yep. That is what the law says. But don't question the law. God forbid we do that. Don't cough up any stats to prove the danger. Just assume. Just favor a ban based on assumptions and no actual proof. We don't need proof. Our imaginations are quite enough after all.

BTW, a fixie has a natural brake being a fixed gear bicycle. You can even pedal it backwards. Can people lose control? Of course they can, just like they can with any other bicycle. But of course we are used to other bicycles. Its the new and strange that we have to fear and without even a second glance!

-11 ( +1 / -12 )

PersonaNonGrataNov. 12, 2013 - 08:36PM JST Yep. That is what the law says. But don't question the law. God forbid we do that. Don't cough up any stats to prove the danger. Just assume. Just favor a ban based on assumptions and no actual proof. We don't need proof. Our imaginations are quite enough after all.

If you don't like the law then the correct course of action is to get together a lobby group of like-minded individuals and brib... I mean petition someone in the diet to take up your cause and get the law amended. This is how democracy works (stupidly enough).

Or you could go to court, present arguments to the judge pointing out the reasons that your bike is safe and hope (probably unsuccessfully) that the judge will see common sense and rule in your favor.

What you do not do is ignore the cops, ignore the court summons and turn a simple argument into whether a rear brake is necessary on all bikes into a complicated affair where you're facing multiple charges that include failing to respond to a court summons, not paying a fine, etc. In that situation you might win your point about the rear brake being unnecessary and will still go to prison for all the other charges.

6 ( +7 / -1 )

You just stick your shoe between the rear tire and the chassis and you come to a stop rather quick. These dudes are a lot less dangerous than ojiichan riding all wobbly on a perfectly fine Bridgestone. Nevertheless ignoring police is just plain stupid

-2 ( +1 / -3 )

its not like the police are just saying this for nothing. its dangerous!

6 ( +6 / -0 )

Riding around on a bicycle without brakes is plain stupid. No, it's plain suicidal. Something must have been overlooked here.

Cyclists in the main are fine, the problem here in Japan is that the Police say they should ride on the pavement, which places them in direct danger of colliding with the "Smart-phone" addict, who's listening to music whilst texting and walking at the same time..

-1 ( +0 / -1 )

PNG

Yep. That is what the law says. But don't question the law. God forbid we do that. Don't cough up any stats to prove the danger. Just assume.

That's what the police divulged to the press, that this man was cited for riding a bicycle on the roadway without the required equipment as mandated by the Road Traffic Law. That's not me assuming anything. I'm just stating fact. Regardless, this idiot's problem with the law isn't that he rode an illegal bicycle, it's that he ignore the legal process.

TW, a fixie has a natural brake being a fixed gear bicycle. You can even pedal it backwards. Can people lose control? Of course they can, just like they can with any other bicycle. But of course we are used to other bicycles. Its the new and strange that we have to fear and without even a second glance!

If you're insisting that bicycles like selfies and BMXs that don't have brakes are as safe as those that do, then you may want to go edit the wikipedia page on selfies which says: "On any bike with only rear wheel braking, the maximum deceleration is significantly lower than on a bike equipped with a front brake.[30] As a vehicle brakes, weight is transferred towards the front wheel and away from the rear wheel, decreasing the amount of grip the rear wheel has. Transferring the rider's weight back increases rear wheel braking efficiency, but a front wheel fitted with an ordinary brake might provide 70% or more of the braking power when braking hard (see Weight transfer)."

5 ( +5 / -0 )

about time. when do they start arresting these people flying the wrong way down the sidewalks?

1 ( +2 / -1 )

@PersonaNonGrata,

To my knowledge, people who ride fixies are bicycle hobbyists and there are reasons they don't have back brakes.

Name them.

These people want to take their bikes places to practice their riding skills. Strapping the bike to their back is not practical. Taking brakes on and off would be a major hassle.

Understandable, I suppose, but:

In Japan, the law requires that bicycles have both front and rear brakes. Failure to install both before riding on a public road is punishable by a fine of up to 50,000 yen.

Please note that the law says nothing about "unless you're riding the bike to an off-road area to practice riding skills." Just because a law is inconvenient to you does not mean you get to ignore it.

5 ( +6 / -1 )

The law is the law. Nowhere is it written (that I know of) that the law applies only when convenient. The guy was arrested for breaking the law.

The law he broke was one implemented for no other reason than to promote safety in a society that sees a relatively large number of bicycle riders using the public roadways and, yes, sidewalks.

To argue that being particularly adept at riding a BMX-style/"selfie"-style brakeless bicycle or even one with only a front brake should make one automatically expempt from public safety laws is, well, silly at best.

He deserves whatever the courts throw at him, if for no other reason than because he was stupid enough to ignore a court summons . . . seven times and continue to ride through the same police officers' beat again and again until they finally got fed up with his flagrant disregard for the law. The guy's a moron.

6 ( +7 / -1 )

Well, the law is the law and this guy broke it and was caught more than once. Of course the back brake on most bicycles or motorcycles doesn't do as much as the front because of the mass shift when braking, but it does help if it doesn't skid. But the guy should have known better. The cops will get fed up just like anybody else.

1 ( +2 / -1 )

What you do not do is ignore the cops, ignore the court summons

I guess you never heard of civil disobedience, also an important part of freedom and democracy.

And why I get this speech for just asking for data and proof to back up what looks to me like a summary ban based on assumption, I don't even know.

Still NO ONE has put a drop of empirical evidence into this, and I find that very sad for freedom. Last I checked, it was the perogative of those supporting a ban that had to prove their case, not the ones supporting freedom.

The law is the law. Nowhere is it written (that I know of) that the law applies only when convenient.

Its not written. Its a simple fact. The cops have better things to do than harass people over petty laws, and the police don't bother with a ton of laws on the books, and if they did, the perps would still walk out of court scot-free if it even made a hearing.

-9 ( +0 / -9 )

I'm with the cops on this one, for a change. Argue about the 'pettiness' of it all you want, the fact is that the guy 'never thought he would be arrested' despite numerous requests to get his bike fixed or stop riding it, so he was flaunting the law. They DID try and warn him on more than one occasion, it seems. Perhaps this guy will now be a little more conscientious, and others will follow suit, and the roads will be that much safer for it.

Now, start cracking down on the obachan riding the 100kg tanks with double seats, umbrella stands, things hanging form the handles, riding on the wrong side of the road, and wearing those ridiculous sun visors.

2 ( +6 / -4 )

Man arrested for riding brakeless bike in first such case

Grumpy cat says "Good"

1 ( +4 / -3 )

PNG

Still NO ONE has put a drop of empirical evidence into this, and I find that very sad for freedom. Last I checked, it was the perogative of those supporting a ban that had to prove their case, not the ones supporting freedom.

Please refer to Bicycling Science Third Edition (latest editon/2004) for the original quote:

A fixed-gear bike with no brakes cannot stop in as short a space as one with a front brake, because only the rear wheel is providing the braking force. As a vehicle on the road, it's therefore clearly less safe. This is a matter of simple physics. In the third edition of Bicycling Science, David Gordon Wilson demonstrates that the maximum deceleration of a crouched rider on a standard bike (that is, not a recumbent) on a dry road is 0.56g. Try to brake any harder than that and you go over the handlebars, which is the limit condition, as the limit from tyre adhesion of vehicles that don't pitch over (tandems, recumbents and cars) is about 0.8g. If you brake with only the rear wheel, according to Wilson, the limit is 0.256g, because braking effectively shifts your weight forward, reducing the load on the rear wheel to the point that it skids at that deceleration. Once a tyre is skidding, its braking effectiveness is reduced because you no longer have sticky solid rubber in contact with the road, but a lubricating layer of molten rubber. (Which incidentally demonstrates that the Oregon legislation was written by someone with no clue at all about bikes.) Therefore, however good a fixie rider is, stopping distance is roughly doubled without a front brake. In practice, it's probably more than that.

http://autobus.cyclingnews.com/tech.php?id=tech/2006/news/08-04

3 ( +5 / -2 )

USNinJapan2, I don't have a problem with the physics, nor did I ask for the physics. My question was on practical application, as in, can anyone prove that these bikes are having more accidents per capita? Put granny on the same bike as a BMX enthusiast you get different patterns of behavior, different reaction times and different braking distances, not to mention steering and avoidance reactions. And THAT is why I was talking about licensing.

The best way to avoid bike accidents might not be requiring "certain types" of brakes. But that question leads to politically incorrect answers. And if that is all it takes to derail safety, what is a few brakeless bikes on the road really? Where I cringe is when I see a mother with a baby or two strapped onto a bicycle. But there even I can't say I have any stats on how many babies get injured for that. But as much as people seem to care about these paltry few BMX enthusiasts....

-4 ( +1 / -5 )

USNin, your quotes are all about the danger of brakes on the rear alone. This chap had a front brake, according to para one, but no brake on the rear wheel.

Even if they invented temporary rear brakes to be fitted going to and coming from the park in order to comply with the road laws and to keep the cops happy, you can bet this guy would not use them because he would look uncool to passing fans of fixies.

1 ( +1 / -0 )

nandakandamanda

The info I've posted demonstrate to PNG that a fixie (which he has stated is as safe as any other 'normal' bicycle) with only a rear brake is not nearly as safe as a bicycle with either a front brake or brakes on both wheels. True, the bicycle that this gentleman was riding evidently had a front brake, but it was still not road legal in Japan where brakes are required on both the front and rear wheels.

3 ( +4 / -1 )

And funny that you mention that brakes fail. They sure do! For reasons such as rain and ice. And if they do, who do you think is going to stop faster? The guy on a fixie used to having none or granny on the mama-chari tank full of groceries? Guess we got to ban mama charis now too?

Obviously the grannies should ride fixies then. And the hipsters should learn to ride mama-charis.

Problem solved.

0 ( +1 / -1 )

When in Rome, do as the Romans.

If the local laws require two brakes, a bell, reflectors, and a headlamp, then comply or don't ride. Simple as that.

5 ( +6 / -1 )

@PNG

Anyone who thinks they are just plain dangerous vehicles that should be banned with a heavy hand is welcome to post a list of accidents involving them and caused by the fact they had no brakes.

Yes it is plain dumb to ride a fixie without rear brakes. Yes you could stop it is by pedaling backwards... till somehow the chain loosens due to daily use and gets off the gear. It happens.

To my knowledge, people who ride fixies are bicycle hobbyists and there are reasons they don't have back brakes.

I have to totally disagree with you there. Some small group of people, yes. But a lot bigger group of people use them because it's the style, fashion, trend, etc.

The bicycle hobbyists usually are up to date with the laws on the road and follow them.

3 ( +3 / -0 )

The guy got a lot of breaks from the cops. Pun intended. He deserved this.

3 ( +3 / -0 )

I'll bet those skilled drivers wouldn't mind having a rear brake on their bike and not using it, Better safe than sorry

4 ( +4 / -0 )

spudmanNov. 12, 2013 - 05:18PM JST A bike with no rear brake = free flying lessons. no, BMX riders use the front brake to control speed and in a lockup they skid the back wheel with their shoe acting as a brake against the rear wheel. You incorrectly made a wide sweeping generalisation, work for the police?

The rear brake is for stopping the bicycle quickly when something pops in your way out no where, not for "controlling your speed". (Which you can easily do with the front brake unless you're motorically impaired.) bmx bikes without brakes belong in closed off play pens or forests where other people don't have to dodge your flailing carcasses.

0 ( +1 / -1 )

No thanks to licensing for bicycles; that's an extremely slippery slope to head down. Putting a back brake on a bicycle for non-competition use is simply not that big a deal. I don't think it's that big a deal to leave the rear brake on for competition practice; and if it is a big deal, then spend the 10 minutes to take it off. Serious bicycling already requires lots of maintenance time on a weekly basis: cleaning, adjustment, lubrication, etc. And already if you want to take it on a train you must partially disassemble and place in a special bicycle bag. The unfair burden of brake attachment/dis-attachment argument is simply too weak.

0 ( +0 / -0 )

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