crime

Police get tough on cyclists violating traffic laws

80 Comments
By Andrew Miller

The Tokyo District Public Prosecutor’s Office has officially announced that it intends to prosecute cyclists who repeatedly violate road traffic laws in Japan, as of Monday. Ignoring a red light or not stopping when necessary may also become subject to penalty, with a three-month jail sentence or a fine of up to 50,000 yen. In addition, riding parallel with other cyclists or failure to make use of one’s light under conditions of poor visibility could carry fines of up to 20,000 yen and 50,000 yen, respectively.

One would assume that a rise in accidents involving cyclists is behind the toughening of the law. However, lawyer Shinpei Kazusawa who represents law firm Very Best, suggests otherwise.

“There has been a clear decrease in road accidents involving automobiles and bicycles. However, the number of bicycle related accidents, compared with 10 years ago, has seen an increase of 13%.”

With the law as it presently stands, only motorists are subject to penalties for small breaches of the law such as illegal parking. What’s more, as one would naturally expect, settling the fine protects one from prosecution.

Contrastingly, cyclists are exempt from any such penalty, however are theoretically subject to prosecution. Nevertheless, it is feared that prosecuting a cyclist over a small breach would make a mockery of the current automobile traffic laws and so up until now, authorities have been reluctant to enforce the penalties. Under the new system, bicycle and automobile laws will be more or less on an equal footing.

“The tightening of the law is obviously a strategy to reduce any further bicycle-related accidents. But it’s also a sign that many citizens are dissatisfied with the leniency of the current road traffic laws.” (Hironori Oze, Lawyer)

There are, of course, plenty of people who feel that being penalized for ignoring a red light and the like are a little too severe. Kazusawa comments: “Up until now most cyclists have avoided arrest or any form of penalty. Usually what is issued is a ‘guidance warning ticket.’ In 2011, there were around 2 million warning tickets issued, in contrast to which only 4,000 arrests were made. Whilst arrests make up a meager 0.2% of cases, they have admittedly been on the increase in recent years. For example, even if the infringement is slight, being the subject of arrest means through an indictment at court, the defendant can be financially penalized.”

No doubt the latest strengthening of traffic laws will leave many reflecting upon how they behave on the road, but what’s ultimately important is that laws are there to protect us. If tougher laws mean a reduction in accidents I’m sure no one will have that much room for complaint.

Source: Ameba News

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80 Comments
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This is the equivalent of the red light traffic cameras. This isn't so much about "public safety" as it is more about revenue generation for the local city wards coffers - simple as it gets.

-3 ( +12 / -13 )

Hang on a minute, haven't the police just recently concluded a Tokyo wide blitz at 50 different locations involving hundreds of police that concluded with something like three warnings being given? I can only imagine that they must have a heck of a lot of time on their hands if they can devote so much energy to eliminating this evil of naughty cyclists.

-2 ( +6 / -8 )

This isn't so much about "public safety" as it is more about revenue generation for the local city wards coffers - simple as it gets.

my thoughts exactly. Good thing that people will start walking and enjoy good health, bad thing that bicycle shops will lose some business and contribute to deflation.

-5 ( +4 / -9 )

I would say that this is an April Fools , but then again, this is Japan.

3 ( +7 / -4 )

Tokyoites had best start saving up for public transport!

-5 ( +2 / -7 )

Or move to a house or apartment in one of Tokyo's 26 wards nearest where your workplace is located so you can get there by walking!

-9 ( +1 / -10 )

The hikikomori population will grow because of this!

-9 ( +0 / -9 )

Three months in jail for running a stop sign?...sounds like an easy way to make sure someone's visa renewal gets rejected.

-2 ( +7 / -9 )

Bicycle restriction enforcement must include no riding on the wrong side of the road. Presently it is outside scope of enforcement. Also, guidlines are necessary for road sharing of cars and bicycles; including having cars leave a safe margin when overtaking bicycles, understanding that bicycles must maneuver to avoid road obstacles, that bicycles cannot safely ride in the gutter, etc. Anecdote: In a 40 kph zone I am doing 40 kph on a bicycle. A police car begins to tail me and says through the loudspeaker: "Slow down bicycle". But he doesn't even say how much.

5 ( +7 / -3 )

“There has been a clear decrease in road accidents involving automobiles and bicycles. However, the number of bicycle related accidents, compared with 10 years ago, has seen an increase of 13%.”

This is simply because more people are riding bikes and fewer people are driving - a very good thing. If you want to see this trend continue AND decrease the number of bike related accidents then do something about the infrastructure to make it safer. This crackdown will discourage cycling and increase the number of cars on the road - and deadly accidents, good for the auto manufacturers but bad for everyone else..

0 ( +3 / -3 )

After sitting through a 2 hour lecture on 'Driver safety' (I got pulled over on my scooter for riding up to the front at a stop light. Apparently I crossed a yellow line in doing so. Twice.). hosted by some should-be-retired cop, I'm 100% convinced that it's a revenue generation racket. There's very little that distinguishes the cops in this country from extortionist yakuza elements. They'll pull over ridiculous petty offenders rather than go after real problems like those bosozoku punks with their modified mufflers and no helmets.

BTW, @ CraigHicks, legally speaking, they have no right to slow you down on a bicycle (unless they're pulling you over for an offence other than speeding). Unless your bike is motor assisted, you are permitted to ride as fast as you feel safe at.

0 ( +7 / -7 )

On a side note, I wonder how these laws will apply and be enforced on kids. Clearly it's a desperate move by the government to siphon more money from its citizens.

-4 ( +2 / -6 )

The complete lack of enforcement of any kind of rules on cyclists is a perennial topic on JT. Cyclists ride on the road, on the pavement, go the wrong way in the street, don't signal, ride dangerously, talk on keitai, hold umbrella, etc etc. We have probabaly all had a brush or two with some cycling hero in Tokyo. So enforcement of some kind is probably a good thing. Warning tickets don't seem to cut it, so some finanacial penalty seems sensible. 3 months in jail sounds a bit harsh. Also useful would be a clear set of rules (e.g. are cyclists supposed to ride on the pavement or in the road). I am sure the cops will be zealous in this regard as it is an easy win. Like the Tokyo traffic wardens who are totally gung-ho in their work.

2 ( +6 / -3 )

Unlike just about every other correspondent, I think this is a good idea, having been hit in the back several times by inconsiderate and, apparently, blind idiots riding cycles on the pavement -- one was even talking on his mobile. I honestly think that until the majority of the Japanese learn road safety and general courtesy to pedestrians, the laws should be rigorously enforced.

7 ( +12 / -5 )

By the way, I cycle every day, and follow the laws.

3 ( +6 / -5 )

I mean for heavens sake - I know the mama charies get a bad rep, and sometimes parents are irresponsible, but I also see mothers who put their kids in proper seats, and buckle them in and make them wear helmets, on a very regular basis. But they see no problem with letting them jump around in a car?!

I even got stopped once by a cop while on my mama charie bike (with kiddo on the back) because she was wearing a helmet but had taken it off by herself. I was grateful for him telling me of course (and she got a big fright when the policeman told her she had to wear it) but at the same time as he was casually checking my gaijin card, I saw 3 cars go past with kids sitting on moms knee in the front, etc.

And I have NEVER seen ANY car be stopped by the police because they don't have adequate child seating / kids with no belts on / kids literally jumping around on the backseat ... yet they will stop you for absolutely nothing (like crossing a yellow line on a scooter at a red light?!)

(Sorry, this just really makes me mad.... )

12 ( +16 / -6 )

Easy pickings, how about going after tough crime?

1 ( +7 / -7 )

Before the enforcement of law there should be an awareness system then implementation. It is also clear who ride bicycle among them are those who are not fully aware of newly introduced law for cyclist. Who to blame?

Are there proper cyclist zone on streets? Are they going to fine kids/obaasan/ojiisan too?

Imagine a Mother is taking kid to school on a cycle in a rainy day there are chances she might make a minute blunder will she be ended up in a Jail or pay fine in these hard days? Guess for a minute, she got jail term, who is going to take care of kid/kids? Or those who are getting social welfare how they are going to pay fine?

I think these kind of law could generate some income but will create a great amount of fuss in the society. No doubt we are bound to abide law but what if law is not clear enough?

-2 ( +4 / -6 )

We get this same headline every April 1.

1 ( +3 / -2 )

I suspect the cops will be out in full force writing citations for two weeks and then will disappear. Outside my window I watch cars run the run light all day long. I should record it sometime. It happens all day long.

4 ( +6 / -2 )

I'm 100% convinced that it's a revenue generation racket.

It is well known that driving schools and licensing centers are low-grade amakudari destinations for cops.

In addition, riding parallel with other cyclists

What does this mean? If you're riding straight down the road, you are by definition parallel with other cyclists?

failure to make use of one’s light under conditions of poor visibility

What does that even mean?

-3 ( +2 / -5 )

I'd call April's fools on this one. A decision actually being made and put into effect (at all) within this short time span, here? Right. I'm sure half of law enforcement couldn't tell a penny farthing from a mountain bike, let alone actually know where they're supposed to ride their own dep issued bicycles. I've seen cops from the same koban at a city in Saitama ride their patrols both in the middle of the most heavily trafficked street going to the station as well as on either of the sidewalks. (By the way, the city is full of bike and car punks, both regularly burning around the station roundabout, while said cops actually not even at the desk in their koban, but in the back confinement room with no view outside whatsoever!

1 ( +4 / -3 )

Government fishing for money hit the cyclists. Safety always good excuse.

0 ( +4 / -5 )

Riding on the wrong side of the road can result in a head-on with for example a scooter which rides on the left of cars. Not using a light is considerably dangerous at night. Piggy back riders (two on the bike) can unbalance the ride. Failing to stop and look both ways at intersections, signal or no signal is dumb riding. The penalties go to the motor vehicle who hit careless bicycle riders. Car insurance goes up in case of reported accidents. I'm 100% in favor of strict laws for bicycles and it's not a matter of the government making money on fines.

0 ( +4 / -4 )

*philsandozApr. 01, 2013 - 09:17AM JST

By the way, I cycle every day, and follow the laws.*

You'll get on just fine in Japan. May I refer you to the Pic of the day?

0 ( +0 / -0 )

Yes, there are more serious crimes the police could go after but then again they could focus on nothing but murder and forget all about assaults and burglaries. The point is not that there are worse crimes than violating cycling laws but that violating cycling laws puts people in danger and should be stopped.

As Jack Stern has stated, if you drive and hit a cyclist, it doesn't really matter if the cyclist caused the accident or not, as a driver of a car you will be the one who is punished, both by the police and by your insurance company. If you have to swerve or come to a sudden stop because a cyclist has run a red light, jumped suddenly from the pavement to the road, opted to wear dark clothing and no reflective gear while ridding against traffic, you are not only at great risk of hitting the cyclist and being punished for it but you are also at risk of hitting other cars.

By law bicycles are light vehicles and as such should be forced to obey the rules of the road. I know I'll get thumbed down for saying it but I really don't care: If you cannot safely and comfortably ride on the road then you don't belong on a bicycle.

The pavement, especially such crowded ones as those in Tokyo and most major Japanese cities, are no places for bicycles. I have yet to find a study which shows anything but the fact that bicycle-car accidents increase when cyclists ride on the pavement. You're not safer cycling on the sidewalk. If you're riding with a child on your bike, neither you nor your child are safer when cycling on the sidewalk.

I think the chance of a mother being jailed for violating a cycling law will be fair to none but then again, if it's the law and she's violated, why shouldn't she be jailed or at the very least, fined severely?

Of course this all assumes that a fair amount of time and information is allowed so that people are well and truly made aware of the proper cycling laws. As it stands, I'm not even sure most police officers are aware of what the proper cycling laws are.

6 ( +10 / -4 )

I read somewhere that at least in Nagoya bicycles are meant to ride on the road and not the pavement, but most cyclist in Japan ride on the pavement and are not prosecuted for doing so. Bearing this in mind, and that cycles are therefore classified as being both pedestrians (or at least pavement users) and as road vehicles then there are many situations in which traffic lights present a conundrum.

E.g. if one approaches a T junction from the base of a T on a cycle and the light is red. Can one turn left onto the pavement? Can one turn right with the pedestrians and cross the pedestrian crossing? Or when approaching a red light at a T junction from the left arm of the T, can one ignore the red light by going onto the pavement? When coming from from the right arm of the arms of the T, can one cross with the pedestrians, go across the top of the T as a pedestrian, and then cross back with pedestrians, and then continue along the road?

1 ( +2 / -1 )

More piecemeal approaches with no big picture awareness.

If driver and cyclist sanctions are to be aligned, can we align all the rules, please? No more cycling on the right, for a start!

1 ( +1 / -0 )

Happy to hear this. Sick of almost getting run over everyday

-1 ( +5 / -6 )

It is true there are some fools on bicycles. Around me there are some who insist on riding as far to the right as possible on roads without sidewalks, defying oncoming cyclists on the correct side of the road, and even denying they are doing anything wrong when they eventually almost ride into someone. I don't get it at all.

1 ( +1 / -0 )

I wonder if they will improve cycling proficiency education at junior schools...........?

0 ( +1 / -1 )

In reply to Ambrosia...

Yes, there are more serious crimes the police could go after but then again they could focus on nothing but murder and forget all about assaults and burglaries. The point is not that there are worse crimes than violating cycling laws but that violating cycling laws puts people in danger and should be stopped. As Jack Stern has stated, if you drive and hit a cyclist, it doesn't really matter if the cyclist caused the accident or not, as a driver of a car you will be the one who is punished, both by the police and by your insurance company. If you have to swerve or come to a sudden stop because a cyclist has run a red light, jumped suddenly from the pavement to the road, opted to wear dark clothing and no reflective gear while ridding against traffic, you are not only at great risk of hitting the cyclist and being punished for it but you are also at risk of hitting other cars. By law bicycles are light vehicles and as such should be forced to obey the rules of the road. I know I'll get thumbed down for saying it but I really don't care: If you cannot safely and comfortably ride on the road then you don't belong on a bicycle.

Yeah but .... wait a moment please.

You raised some good points, but lets also not neglect the fact that the reason the car will hit the cyclist in a vast majority of cases is because the driver was using his cell phone / sending an email / lighting a cigarette / watching his TV at the same time as driving. All of which are illegal.

The number of times I have heard "I just took my eyes off the road for a second" or " I didn't see her" in the press in this country (usually following the death of a child) is absurd.

Don't get me wrong - I KNOW Cyclists do this (light cigarettes / play ipods / send mails) too, however they generally don't kill someone if they hit someone with their bicycle. A car driver on the other can can. And do - we see articles here on a weekly basis about it. Thats why they need a license to drive a car. I would argue that, if you cannot safely ride on the road in a car, adhering to the rules, then they also have no business being in control of such a powerful weapon.

What Im saying is, by ALL means toughen up the standards of safety on Japanese roads. But Lets do it for all road users please, not just cyclists. Lets start by enforcing the rules of the road which currently exist, before we start adding any new ones. (And while were at adding new ones, can we add one for mandatory use of babyseats in cars, please?)

0 ( +2 / -2 )

Are police really getting tough on cyclists violating traffic laws ... as suggested by the headline above? What I saw in central Tokyo today was the usual array of bicyclists zipping through red lights, swerving in and around pedestrians trying to cross the street. I didn't even know such a police drive was underway until I read this JT article. Maybe the police should read it, too, so that they are aware of what they should be doing ... and that is ... stopping those nitwit cyclists who endanger the lives of one and all ...

0 ( +4 / -4 )

Sounds like the april fools joke of the year. I remember back in 2003 or something, in a swedish newspaper, the april fools article was about a new traffic law that would prohibit bicyclists to bike faster than 20 kilometers per hour.

0 ( +1 / -1 )

holy crap those fines are ridiculous

-3 ( +0 / -3 )

Oh, I get it...

Moan and whine at how dangerous cyclists are and how the police do nothing...

Then moans and whine when they do... Brilliant!

3 ( +6 / -3 )

I hate being run down by people on bikes who do not ring bell.. I hate people who ride on sidewalks and ring bell like I am idiot walking on the sidewalk... ride on the road bitch..

2 ( +5 / -3 )

I drive 45 minutes to work every day. I see some idiot on a bike attempt suicide every day, frequently (and very inconsiderately in my opinion) often trying to involve me in their insanity. The most common way is by not looking before they cross a road. Often cyclists will zip around a corner and just free-wheel onto the cross-walk, without even glancing at the lights, or considering at just a second before they were invisible to motorists and now they've placed themselves in front of a ton of moving metal with little or no possibility of the car being able to stop in time.

Luckily thus far I've avoided hitting any of the suicidal lemmings, but it is just a matter of time before one of them succeeds.

Personally I welcome this move, because if I hit a cyclist I would be held to be at fault, and there's absolutely no way to prove where the cyclist came from or how fast they were moving, or what colour the light was. Instead I would end up in prison because some cyclist was so arrogant and self-centered that they believed that the road was for their exclusive use.

I hear a lot of cyclists complaining about drivers, and frankly I agree. Every day I see idiotic drivers too. I hear ya, honestly I do, but I see an equal number of idiotic cyclists. I'm in favour of the laws being tightened up for everyone, and more plain-clothes cops being posted at random locations to observe and arrest anyone (cyclists, drivers and pedestrians) engaging in reckless behaviour.

1 ( +4 / -3 )

I'd hate to drive in Japan when cyclists don't look right or left when turning the corner.Sometimes they deserve to learn the hard way.

-1 ( +4 / -5 )

Right. First lets encourage everyone to think about the environment, then when everyone rides bicycles lets procecute them for violating VERY unclear bicycle rules appart from the fact that there is NO room anywhere to ride safely anyway. Then skip the helmet part issue because there are no JPs manufacturers anyway. Doesnt the Police have anything better to do? I have seen and heard of serious car accidents and deaths Go there. 3 months jail for braking a rule???? Is this N.Korea?? You lose your job, get a record and Jail??

2 ( +5 / -3 )

We at the round table agree with GoGoGo and 25 Spot, nothing more to be said. Try riding a horse around Tokyo on a wet day and see how the TMP react !

0 ( +0 / -0 )

The fact is that the infrastructure for safe cycling sucks. That said, bicycle riders ought to get it through their heads the a bicycle is a vehicle. It can kill or cause serious injury, I have had numerous sideswipes and near misses. Japanese think nothing of bashing people in public and bicycle riders seem to think it is okay too.

I would love to see idiots who text or wear ear phones while zigzagging through crowds get hit with big hanging fines.

Then there are the creeps who ride bicycles where it clearly states that bicycle riding is not allowed. Fine them to hell.

As a cyclist I am careful when I ride. I walk my bike when I think it is too dangerous to ride. And this is with a custom-built racing bike that is built for speed.

3 ( +5 / -2 )

OK , nice idea but will all the cops in Japan start fining everybody and I mean every single cyclist from the elderly who run red lights every single day to youngsters flying to work not obeying any of the road rules. Most cyclists also seem to think only having a front light is enough , when many accidents happen from drivers not seeing the cyclist from the rear because they are wearing dark clothing on a dark street etc. If the J Cops start actually fining people every day cyclists might think about their riding habits and change their ways. But hey they sure as hell better do the same to the drivers as well. I do not own a car - sold it last year because I did not need it anymore - I wear a helmet every time I get on my bike and have working front and rear lights plus I do not run lights. People in this country are always in such a hurry to get somewhere that they break the road rules to save a few seconds , lights are quite cheap compared to getting a fine and funerals are even more expensive !

0 ( +1 / -1 )

How is this possible when the cops ride down the wrong side of the road and footpaths?

2 ( +2 / -0 )

For the love of god. Make it mandatory for cyclists over, say, 12 years old to use the road. They are a bloody nuisance. Repeat they are a bloody nuisance.

-1 ( +3 / -5 )

What about the rest of the country?

0 ( +0 / -0 )

Too heavy handed and harsh if the evidence shows they are not causing more accidents. They would be causing more accidents and traffic jams if they used their cars instead. This is another example of unfairness to a harmless, innocent minority. Try riding a bike for a while and you will lose your prejudices.

0 ( +2 / -2 )

Under the new system, bicycle and automobile laws will be more or less on an equal footing.

This is Ludicrous... Laws written by children, for children...

I guess this is meant so that the JCops can actually take on something, they are capable of handling... Kids on Bicycles.. I mean, God forbid, they were forced to actually do REAL police work... BTW: where are they on that 24 Million yen stolen from a McDonald's the last week..? Anyone..?

Oh, yea, just watched another Bozozoku ride past the Koban on the corner, (with 2 people on the MOTOCYCLE) through 2 RED LIGHTS, of course the JCops were asleep at the switch... Oh, but let's go after those bicycle riders... Great Plan... Brilliant...! Don't worry that 80% of Japanese companies have been infested by organized crime, but let's go after the low hanging fruit!

Glad I'm SOFA... I can only wish they would attempt to stop me...

APR. 01, 2013 - 01:51PM JST

3 ( +5 / -2 )

bicycle riders ought to get it through their heads the a bicycle is a vehicle. It can kill or cause serious injury

What planet are you living on..? To the RIDER... Self Inflicted injuries... Yes... I have yet to see a family of 5 mowed down by a drunk on a 10-speed... Just does't happen...

Police resources are limited.. How about focusing on REAL crime...

If you hit someone, whether walking, running, riding a skateboard or playing base ball you are still legally liable for injuries caused.. Same thing if you injure someone while riding a pedestrians (I.E.. bicycles). But common-sense dictates that there are inherent differences between motor vehicles and bicycles, that's why you do not need a license to operate a bicycle.

Let's get back to common-sense, can we please!

3 ( +5 / -2 )

Make it mandatory for cyclists over, say, 12 years old to use the road.

Make it mandatory for drivers not to park on trunk roads. Oh wait, it already is mandatory and the cops don't enforce this, causing cyclists to have to turn onto the sidewalk.

3 ( +4 / -1 )

How about the police crackdown on the idiots who parked on the side of the road illegally and make you swerve to miss them. Also, how about some crackdown on the scooters who dangerously swerve between cars!

7 ( +8 / -1 )

Good news!

-1 ( +2 / -4 )

Why are so many complaining about the high fines? You can do one simple thing to avoid gettning fined, follow the law.

-4 ( +2 / -6 )

Nevertheless, it is feared that prosecuting a cyclist over a small breach would make a mockery of the current automobile traffic laws and so up until now, authorities have been reluctant to enforce the penalties.

What? It almost sounds like they're trying to say a minor infraction by a cyclist MUST go to court unlike minor infractions involving automobiles that can simply pay a fine.

Under the new system, bicycle and automobile laws will be more or less on an equal footing.

About time. The only way you can safely travel on the roads is if ALL the users of the roads are held to the same set of laws. If a cyclist is doing 30 in a 20 kph zone, then they should get a ticket for speeding just like an automobile drive should.

-1 ( +2 / -3 )

Why are so many complaining about the high fines? You can do one simple thing to avoid gettning fined, follow the law.

If you are under 18 you really should be getting a warning or arrested and have your parents pick you up. If you are an adult you should be getting a warning/fines. More importantly people should be sending in videos where people can learn how to change their driving and riding techniques.

http://news.kanaloco.jp/ (I couldn't find the article related to this story)

0 ( +1 / -1 )

0 ( +0 / -0 )

Article states: “There has been a clear decrease in road accidents involving automobiles and bicycles.

There is really no justifications to change the policy toward the bicycle riders. This is just an excuse for Police to increase the fines due to lack of revenue. Real reason is that they are short of money. All the cities and towns in Japan are having budget problems, and they will make excuse to penalize hardworking average people.

2 ( +3 / -1 )

Another grey area I have is when approaching pedestrian vehicle separated traffic lights (歩車分離式信号), which are becoming more popular these days. They allow travelling straight up/down cars to travel (no pedestrian movement) then the cars travelling left right to travel (again no pedestrian movement) and then allow pedestrians to travel in any direction even diagonally, with no car movement at all. I am not keen on these traffic lights since they mean that pedestrians have to wait longer, and they cause those used to the old/normal style of non seperate lights to make mistakes.

But the problem I have is when approaching these lights on a bike. I ride my bike on the road, since I know I can kill people on my bike travelling at 30kmh plus. I come to one of these lights and it turns red and come to a stop. Then all the cyclists that have been riding on the pavement (sidewalk) cross the lights. Should I just run the red light on my bike like all the other cyclists? Conversely, when I come to one of these lights on my bike travelling with the cars and the light is green, should I ride my bike through the green light even though there are loads of cyclists waiting on the pavement?

Generally when I come to one of these lights I slow down, and ride on the pavement, and behave as a pedestrian, since that is what the majority of other cyclists are doing but I find it confusing.

1 ( +1 / -0 )

@sfjp330

Article states: "There has been a clear decrease in road accidents involving automobiles and bicycles."

There is really no justifications to change the policy toward the bicycle riders. This is just an excuse for Police to increase the fines due to lack of revenue. Real reason is that they are short of money. All the cities and towns in Japan are having budget problems, and they will make excuse to penalize hardworking average people.

Absolutely... It's all about money... Evidently, they are not making enough money, or see another expotential source of untapped revenue from going after bicycles. And from a monetary standpoint, it's a win - win situation... It doesn't require any extra effort on the part of Law Enforcement... So now, when quota time of the month rolls around, you would normally see cops having a trap set up, usually near a well traveled corner, or intersection, that has a tiny sign saying, "no left turns" or something to that effect, with cops pre-positioned, handing out tickets, to everyone, every-vehicle turning there, with the, "Please Pay in 5 Days" notice. (Strangely enough this only happens either at the end of the month, or beginning of the month, for about 3 days, then they are completely gone...)

Now they will set up periodic random check-points to ticket cyclist... And it doesn't matter, what you were doing, whether you were breaking the law or not, you're guilty, you have to pay... I mean, driving a car, it's much easier for the cops to catch you actually doing something, and unless they stopped the wrong car, it's a rock solid case, but bicycles..? There's a grey area big enough to drive a "non-step" Bus through...

Why don't we just take this one step further and require All Pedestrians to wear Helmets, with a Miniature License plate, affixed to the back, along with rear view mirrors, lights, and safety belt? You will have to attend Walking school (pay at least 180,000-yen for the class) and upon receiving your Walking License, be treated as a "Professional Pedestrian" and the cops can ticket you for walking too fast, along with failing to signal turns... Do I really need to demonstrate this level of absurdity..? Don't worry, it's coming, soon!

1 ( +4 / -2 )

Why people including me don't follow the traffic laws without tightening of the laws? Only the laws for people violating...

0 ( +0 / -0 )

kimuzukashiiiii: but lets also not neglect the fact that the reason the car will hit the cyclist in a vast majority of cases is because the driver was using his cell phone / sending an email / lighting a cigarette / watching his TV at the same time as driving. All of which are illegal.

If that's the argument you want to stick with that's your business but what I see when I look around is cyclists flying from the pavement to the road without looking to see if a car is coming, people doubled up on bicycles so they don't have full control and then riding against traffic, cyclists going through red lights, talking on the phone as they ride, holding umbrellas and more. No doubt automobile drivers are the ones at fault at times but having ridden my bicycle here for many, many years, my experience has taught me that when there's a car-bicycle accident, odds are that the ignorance and negligence of the cyclist is the one who caused it. Nine times out of ten, any trouble I had on the road was caused by idiotic cyclists coming at me the wrong way, riding into me because they weren't paying attention or were purposely going through red lights and so on. I find Tokyo's drivers to be far more predictable than Tokyo's cyclists. And that's not even getting into the number of pedestrian-bicycle accidents that are pretty much always the fault of the cyclist if they occur on the pavement.

Rules for automobiles don't have to be tightened so much as they have to be enforced, which they are far more than those for cyclists who violate the laws of the road and common sense right in front of the police and, until now, have had nothing happen to them besides perhaps being pulled over and given a talking to. Rules for cyclists have to be established clearly, taught and enforced. There is simply no defense for allowing people to cycle the way the do in Tokyo. It doesn't have to be the way it is, nor should it be.

-3 ( +1 / -4 )

sfjp330: There is really no justifications to change the policy toward the bicycle riders. This is just an excuse for Police to increase the fines due to lack of revenue

Yes, there is. The justification is that the cyclists in Tokyo and most major cities in Japan are, for the most part, ignorant, dangerous menaces who make walking down the pavement, driving a car and riding a bicycle properly stressful obstacle courses. I don't really care if the city aims to make a bit of money off of this or not, as long as I can finally walk down my shopping street and ride my bicycle without having to worry about the two-wheeled idiots who ride dangerously with impunity.

You don't want to pay a fine, it's quite simple: follow the rules of the road and common sense and show some common courtesy towards pedestrians and those on the road.

Certainly it's not just JT posters who find the cyclists to be such a headache or this wouldn't even be happening. It's a bit like people who smoked without caring a whit about the people around them. Eventually people decided they had enough and started asking for things to change, which they have. Had cyclists in Japan practiced any common sense or common courtesy we wouldn't even be talking about this.

.

-2 ( +2 / -4 )

Chin4sailor: What planet are you living on..?...Police resources are limited.. How about focusing on REAL crime..

What city are you living in? Cyclists can and do kill pedestrians. Certainly not as many pedestrians are hit and killed by cyclists as by cars but anytime it happens it's a tragedy, was avoidable and more likely than not, the fault of the cyclist for riding on the pavement when they shouldn't have, not paying attention or going too fast.

No one here is arguing that cars and bicycles are the same so I'm not sure what your point is there but focusing on people cycling recklessly should be something police do and riding recklessly is certainly a real crime. Just because people are going to be fined for breaking the law does not mean that people are suddenly going to be getting away with more serious crimes and to imply otherwise is simply illogical.

Certainly if there is an initial education period and a real enforcement of cycling violations, the behavior of cyclists will eventually change. That would make pavements safer and less stressful for pedestrians and roads safer for cyclists and cars. Isn't that a good thing?

In September 2011, an 84-year-old woman died after being hit from behind by a bicycle when she was walking on the sidewalk of a national highway in Yatsushiro, Kumamoto Prefecture. Six pedestrians were killed by bicycles in 2003, including a 38-year-old mother of four who suffered head injuries after being struck as she crossed the street in a crosswalk by a bicycle ridden at break-neck speed downhill by 31-year-old man who couldn't squeeze the brakes because he was holding a soft drink. The victim fell into a coma and died two days later. Many bicycle accidents involving pedestrians have been blamed on middle and high school students.

Many Japanese and foreign travelers to Japan complain about the dangers presented by bicycles on the sidewalks. Many people, especially elderly people, have ended up in the hospital with broken bones due to fast and reckless sidewalk bicycle riders. In 2003, 2,045 people were injured as a result of collision involving cyclists and pedestrians

-4 ( +1 / -5 )

Jack DeBerry: How about the police crackdown on the idiots who parked on the side of the road illegally and make you swerve to miss them

If you're riding a bicycle properly why would you be swerving to avoid a parked car? Surely you'd have been looking down the road, would have noticed it before you got to it and would have been able to make timely adjustments to easily avoid it?

Also, how about some crackdown on the scooters who dangerously swerve between cars

Sure they should but what's that got to do with cracking down on cyclists violating the laws? By that logic the police should forget about robberies and assaults and only focus on murders. Can't they simply focus on all road crimes?

-5 ( +1 / -6 )

Oh if only they'd crack down on the damn Bōsōzoku!

2 ( +3 / -1 )

Can't they simply focus on all road crimes?

Except the reality is that they don't... how often do you see unrestrained children, or motorists texting/talking on a phone whilst driving?

1 ( +2 / -1 )

Cyclists all should come under the Moter trafic act and be fined .,The same as a moterest ,it will save their lives when it hurts in the pocket. As cycelists are road users that dont pay insurence this also should be looked at now.

0 ( +3 / -3 )

@ambrosia

In September 2011, an 84-year-old woman died after being hit from behind by a bicycle when she was walking on the sidewalk of a national highway in Yatsushiro, Kumamoto Prefecture. Six pedestrians were killed by bicycles in 2003, including a 38-year-old mother of four who suffered head injuries after being struck as she crossed the street in a crosswalk by a bicycle ridden at break-neck speed downhill by 31-year-old man who couldn't squeeze the brakes because he was holding a soft drink. The victim fell into a coma and died two days later. Many bicycle accidents involving pedestrians have been blamed on middle and high school students.

This is what's Called in Statistics as an Outlier, Meaning, it's NOT a Valid representation of the system as a whole...

Matter of fact, Probably More People were Injured or Killed in Elevators In Japan... Probably in Tokyo Alone...

You want to take that Bet...?

Being a Pedestrian is a Risk in itself, and by and large the Risk of being Seriously Injured or Killed by a Cyclist (NON-Motor Vehicle) is Minuscule... Statistically Speaking, You probably have a better Chance of getting struck by lightening...!

Please, Common-Sense...!

-1 ( +3 / -4 )

Chin4Sailor: Talk to me about common sense when you show some. Everybody wins when traffic laws regarding bicyclists are enforced. It's not really a point you can continue to logically counter argue but feel free to keep trying. I've made my point and I'm sticking with it. Years here have taught me that quite clearly.

-2 ( +3 / -5 )

don-in-japan: Except the reality is that they don't... how often do you see unrestrained children, or motorists texting/talking on a phone whilst driving?

Again, yes, all road crimes should be attended to, whether they be committed by drivers or cyclists. If you'd have bothered to have read any of the previous posts you'd have seen that that point was already discussed.

-2 ( +1 / -3 )

ambrosiaApr. 03, 2013 - 03:32PM JST Yes, there is. The justification is that the cyclists in Tokyo and most major cities in Japan are, for the most part, ignorant, dangerous menaces who make walking down the pavement, driving a car and riding a bicycle properly stressful obstacle courses. I don't really care if the city aims to make a bit of money off of this or not, as long as I can finally walk down my shopping street and ride my bicycle without having to worry about the two-wheeled idiots who ride dangerously with impunity.

Then Police in Tokyo should enforce illegal park vehicles on bike lanes. The bike lanes in Tokyo are murder for cyclists. They collect illegally parked cars, with no parking enforcement or tow trucks in sight. Which means they're useless except when a taxi runs you down, and then claims that you're at fault for not using the (impossible to use safely) bike lane. They also start and end randomly, and at many intersections, forcing the bicycle to merge with cars who don't give a rodent's rear end. Better planning is needed to make bike lanes more efficent and safe.

5 ( +6 / -1 )

@ambrosia

Talk to me about common sense when you show some. Everybody wins when traffic laws regarding bicyclists are enforced. It's not really a point you can continue to logically counter argue but feel free to keep trying. I've made my point and I'm sticking with it. Years here have taught me that quite clearly.

Show me some statistics that say, that will even put cyclist in the same category, statistically, fatalities, Injuries, ect... as any kind of motor-vehicle (other than an Elevator) and I will back this law 100-percent...

Show me something that says 10 people were killed last month in Tokyo by Cyclist, and I will offer a FULL Apology and Back you up... But what you offered as proof, didn't even show 10 fatalities in 10 years...

What I am saying, is that the JCops have about 50 other things on their list of "REAL CRIME" Priorities that they should be worrying about, before they would even get near Cyclist (in statistical crime, incidents) REAL problems this country faces...

This law is about MONEY.... And there are absolutely ZERO politicians that Ride Bicycles or would be affected in the least bit by this law... So, they go after a group of people that are basically Unrepresented...

It's clear you have NO REAL argument, so you're basing your opinion on Emotion, without fact to back it up... Fine...

2 ( +4 / -2 )

Chin4Sailor: Show me some statistics that say, that will even put cyclist in the same category, statistically, fatalities, Injuries, ect... as any kind of motor-vehicle (other than an Elevator) and I will back this law 100-percent...

Okay, first off find your own statistical hoops to jump through. I never put bicycles in the same category as other motor vehicles. In fact, I made it quite clear that legally in Japan they are considered "light vehicles".

how me something that says 10 people were killed last month in Tokyo by Cyclist, and I will offer a FULL Apology and Back you up...

Thanks but I don't need or want you to apologize. Do 10 people a month need to die before we can assess whether or not a particular action is dangerous?

But what you offered as proof, didn't even show 10 fatalities in 10 years.

No, dear. What I offered was proof that bicycles can and have killed people in Japan. You're the one who said "To the RIDER... Self Inflicted injuries... " which is clearly not correct. And even if it were, perhaps the average cyclist in Japan could simply do with some protection from their own ignorance, a bit like with seat belt laws.

What I am saying, is that the JCops have about 50 other things on their list of "REAL CRIME" Priorities that they should be worrying about, before they would even get near Cyclist

Yes, Japanese police should continue to focus on crimes, all crimes. You keep emphasizing this "real crime" issue. You do realize that Japan has specifically designated Traffic Police, don't you? Those are the police who focus on traffic violations, including those incurred by bicyclists. They are aided by bicycle police making their neighborhood rounds - in other words checking to see that things are running smoothly and no one is creating trouble or danger for others.

And there are absolutely ZERO politicians that Ride Bicycle

Tell that to the woman in my building who has run for and won local office for as long as I've been in the building. Her bicycle is parked next to mine and she rides it every day.

It's clear you have NO REAL argument, so you're basing your opinion on Emotion, without fact to back it up... Fine...

I think I've made my argument pretty clear. Educate people about the cycling laws and enforce them, even if that means fining people. Additionally, educate drivers about sharing the roads safely with cyclists. Keep the pavements and roads safer and decrease all vehicle accidents. If you want to call that an emotional argument that's fine by me.

-4 ( +1 / -5 )

sfjp330: Then Police in Tokyo should enforce illegal park vehicles on bike lanes.

Yes, they should. I also think they should create more parking spaces for bicycles rather than for cars.

They also start and end randomly, and at many intersections, forcing the bicycle to merge with cars who don't give a rodent's rear end. Better planning is needed to make bike lanes more efficent and safe.

Absolutely but that is why I do not ride in bicycle lanes and it is the reason I've given when stopped by the police. It's never been an issue because they've always agreed with me.

It can certainly be intimidating to ride your bicycle on the roads in Tokyo. You'll get no disagreement with me on that. However, it's a two-way street, pun intended. Cars should definitely give cyclists more respect but how would that ever happen given the disrespectful way most cyclists ride? Cycling and driving in Tokyo, the biggest irritants and dangers were bicycles coming at me the wrong way, pulling out in front of my car forcing me to slam on my breaks, not wearing reflective gear or using back lights, riding inattentively or just plain stupidly. If you're behind a taxi, you can and should expect it to pull over suddenly without warning. If a bicycle is on the road with you, it's anyone's guess what they're going to do.

It's all about education and uniformity. As a driver, I greatly appreciate it when a cyclist signals a turn. I realize from years of riding in Japan that that is almost never done but, as a cyclist, even just waving my left arm to the left to indicate I'm going to turn, stopping at red lights, looking behind me before I move to my right and so on has gotten me a fair number of "thank you" nods from drivers and has kept me safe all of these years. There's no reason it can't be the same for others.

-1 ( +2 / -3 )

The comparason of a Car passanger with out a seat belt with a cyclist is a very poor excuse. The cyclists has no protection, A bike can be a deadly weppon of which they can loose their lives on as well as killing some one else. When I was a Kid I was Hit by a Car full of smart-ies and the Bike frame Wraped around me punchering my leg I was on a road next to the gutter when these clowns swerved at me and ran into me ,to make matters worse the driver was the son of a policeman. A garbage truck forced the culprets off the road and called the police. I ended in hospital not my fault . But it is necessary to have road rules for all users not just cars trucks cyclists pedrestions everyone for safety sake. The point is road rules should be enforced and anything that can be classifed as a viechle or personel transport should be licenced so the owners can be given road rules and found. if they do something wrong. It is not ment to be a money making thing but make people aware of their Responsibilities as a user to do it safely.

1 ( +3 / -2 )

Ron Barnes: The comparason of a Car passanger with out a seat belt with a cyclist is a very poor excuse. The cyclists has no protection.

The comparison was not in terms of the damage possible but rather about laws and regulations needed to protect people from their own carelessness and stupidity. Seat belt laws protect people otherwise too careless or ignorant to wear them and forcing cyclists to follow the rules of the road forces protects them from accidents that often result due to their carelessness and ignorance. I thought it was kind of obvious but I guess not. Otherwise, I certainly agree with what you said about the enforcement of vehicular rules.

And even if it were, perhaps the average cyclist in Japan could simply do with some protection from their own ignorance, a bit like with seat belt laws.

-2 ( +1 / -3 )

The thing they should be cracking down on is parents driving with unrestrained children in their cars, that was cracked down on about 20 years ago in all other developed countries.

I saw a woman driving recently while holding her baby in front of the steering wheel. If she had had even a minor bump the baby would have been crushed against the wheel, God knows what would have happened had the airbag gone off.

0 ( +2 / -2 )

I pray to God that this is enforced. ESPECIALLY the side-by-side riding. HOW DOES ANYONE THINK THAT'S SAFE?!?!! I'm sick and tired of being almost hit by cyclists of all types, whether it be moms with three kids strapped to their bikes, teenagers texting while riding, or old ladies who can barely control their giant-ass bike. Any Japanese person will not hesitate to say that Japanese people are known for being polite (which they certainly can be), but spending a week walking or biking in Tokyo will tell you the exact opposite and that bikers especially have no common sense or decency. Yes, it SHOULD be expected that if you're coming to an intersection that you sop, especially if there's traffic coming from the busier street. May all who read this be more vigilant with their cycling.

3 ( +5 / -2 )

Court is unnecessary. Give the offenders a ticket on the spot, with the fine attached, like they do in Canada. If they don't pay the fine, toss 'em in jail. If you're stuck on the opinion that it's just a cash-grab, you obviously don't care about your own safety on a bike, or anyone else's. Nor do you care about right and wrong, just your own silly potential abuse of law and order. Peace, order and good government is what the Canadian Constitution says, and funny, IT WORKS.

0 ( +2 / -2 )

StewardJG: The thing they should be cracking down on is parents driving with unrestrained children in their cars, that was cracked down on about 20 years ago in all other developed countries.

We've all seen it. We all think they should crack down on it. That though, has nothing to do with cracking down on cyclists, who are violating other road laws.

-1 ( +0 / -1 )

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