crime

Student who was using smartphone while riding bike indicted for hitting, killing pedestrian

34 Comments

A 19-year-old male college student has been sent to prosecutors on a charge of involuntary manslaughter after he fatally hit a pedestrian with his mountain bike.

The incident occurred just before 9 p.m. on June 25 in Tsukuba City, Ibaraki Prefecture, Fuji TV reported. Chosei Matsuda, 62, was walking along a sidewalk when he was hit from the front by the student riding his bike without its light on. The student was also using his smartphone to listen to music through earphones.

He told police he couldn’t hear anything and took his eyes off the sidewalk just for a few seconds and didn’t notice anyone ahead of him.

Matsuda was knocked to the pavement and died from a head injury the next day.

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34 Comments
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Good! Bikes are a menace enough already, add the element of smart phones and ear phones and death is literally waiting to happen!

One year for every year of the old guys life!

-1 ( +11 / -12 )

atleast 20 years please, highly publicised too!

-3 ( +8 / -11 )

Smart phones are new tech and many people have not yet learned how to make sensible use of them. Parents, schools and government must do more to educate young people in their proper use, otherwise there will be too many more fatal accidents like this. Sympathy for the victim is natural, but the young man's plight deserves our consideration, too, as his life will be impacted forever by the death he so carelessly caused. Prison is not a suitable way for the student to make amends and repay his debt to the man's family. Society must also repay its debt by providing more creative and productive means of compensating victims and rehabilitating individuals who have caused harm. Education must be the first step.

0 ( +6 / -6 )

Yeah, I have had a couple near accidents as people on their bicycles texting and riding their bicycles at the same time on the sidewalk.

5 ( +6 / -1 )

A woman walked into me whilst engrossed in her phone’s screen this week.Surely it is common sense to NOT walk, ride or drive without paying attention?

7 ( +7 / -0 )

Lot of people in here don't even have basic skill to ride a bike. Now you add that with earphone and smart phone.

For foreigners even not using smart phone and earphone, follow all rules, chance is you'll get stopped for bike registration and additional questioning.

6 ( +9 / -3 )

62 years young, cut short by some selfish tool who can't wait until he/she/anyone gets home to enjoy music. Was walking home from the store yesterday stopped at a railroad crossing, and a young lady in a car was fiddling with her earplugs trying to put them in. Was pulling out of a parking lot last week and a young man in his 20's had to find his song first before dangerously walking out in front of my car. Gave him the horn.

And the modern music isn't even that good!

1 ( +8 / -7 )

Glad to see this was referred to prosecutors, cyclists looking at their phones while riding are an outrageous menace.

Smart phones are new tech and many people have not yet learned how to make sensible use of them. Parents, schools and government must do more to educate young people in their proper use, otherwise there will be too many more fatal accidents like this. Sympathy for the victim is natural, but the young man's plight deserves our consideration, too, as his life will be impacted forever by the death he so carelessly caused. Prison is not a suitable way for the student to make amends and repay his debt to the man's family. Society must also repay its debt by providing more creative and productive means of compensating victims and rehabilitating individuals who have caused harm. Education must be the first step

Smartphones aren’t new, the first iPhone came out more than a decade ago. And the rule isn’t so hard to understand that it takes extensive education to get: just don’t use them while riding, driving or walking.

Perhaps the education that is required is an additional lesson that there will be consequences for ignoring the rule, which prosecution in this case would help with. It doesn’t advance the cause of having this guy pay his debt to the man’s family, but that is what civil lawsuits are for.

3 ( +6 / -3 )

Prison is not a suitable way for the student to make amends and repay his debt to the man's family. 

Agreed. One life gone. Another may be ruined.

Surely it is common sense to NOT walk, ride or drive without paying attention?

I’d sooner believe in God than in “common sense”.

Education is only as good as people’s reception of it.

When I see peers of such people openly tell them to stop moving (and get out of the way) while using a smartphone, then I’ll know there’s hope. But, this is Japan so that is unlikely to happen.

9 ( +10 / -1 )

@Ike

Well yes, if not common sense then empathy.If that is absent then what hope is there?

2 ( +4 / -2 )

I don't it and don't support it, but is listening to music on a walkman or similar and cycling illegal? If it is, and I wouldn't be against it, it should be better publicized because I know many who do it, sometimes just to listen to audiobooks.

fwiw, I do "use a smartphone" while cycling but its an old one with no data plan that I use as a GPS bike computer, like a speedometer on a car. I would argue this is very different to "using a smartphone" to text or play Pokemon Go. I look at mine no more than I would at a regular cycling computer.

It sounds like this young man was riding on the pavement (illegal, but with a "yamu wo enai" loophole) with no lights and not even paying attention, so I am not defending him.

4 ( +5 / -1 )

We need bike lanes and license plates for bikes. We also need fines for people who run red lights, ride on the wrong side, don't stop as they come from a side street, use smartphones, and so on. If people were fined they would hesitate more to break the law.

I ride my bike to work, and I have counted the number of times another bicyclist has done something to endanger me, and one day it got up to 11 - in a 30 minute ride.

It can't go on like this.

8 ( +9 / -1 )

No lights on the bike, headphones on and using his phone. I hope he gets 20 years.

1 ( +5 / -4 )

is listening to music on a walkman or similar and cycling illegal?

Headphones are illegal. You can use a speaker however (which I do).

1 ( +3 / -2 )

I love sports cycling, but it bugs me how many riders don't use a light, front and back. The USB chargeable ones make it super easy to always have a light ready to go. However, if you have kids, you know how difficult it is to train them to do anything. I am exhausted from constantly reminding my kids use a light and to stop or pause at the corners and not ride past pedestrians super fast. As for smart phones, I listen to tunes out on the bike paths, but if I need to do any fiddling, I stop.

-1 ( +1 / -2 )

Smart phones are new tech and many people have not yet learned how to make sensible use of them.

Cripes, when does it become "old"? Smart phones are far from new. This isn't just a problem in Japan, hell folks around the world get into car accidents and die using these devices.

Problem is the cops haven't done enough to control the bike riders in Japan and now the problem is compounded even more because of smart phones.

4 ( +4 / -0 )

Why was he riding on the sidewalk? Was the road too dangerous to ride on, and if so, why no bike lane?

People on bikes really shouldn’t be sharing space with pedestrians (nor with dangerous auto traffic) - these are accidents waiting to happen, and now in the US at least, cities that don’t take measures to remedy the situation by providing safe and separate road space for all road users, are considered liable and can be sued - which is great, as it is probably the only way cities will take action.

2 ( +2 / -0 )

This imo is a tragedy on all counts.

The man lost his life and was killed by someone being foolish and negligent.

The foolish and negligent young man will pay a massive massive price which may ruin his life.

Very sad and a good reminder to be careful and remember that when you operate any vehicle, be it a bicycle or a truck, always be careful.

3 ( +3 / -0 )

Eyes open. More coming.

1 ( +1 / -0 )

Unfortunately it’s not just a “smartphone problem.” Even before smartphones, I’d often see cyclists doing all manner of things on their bikes like holding an umbrella, playing a psp, reading a book (without lights either). There’s a real lack of common sense among cyclists and pedestrians here when it comes to awareness and basic safety. When was it ever a good idea to read something/play a game, etc while you’re walking through busy areas, let alone ride a bike doing these things? It’s something I’ve seen more often in Japan than anywhere else. For all the constant safety announcements and warnings everywhere, you’d think Japan would have the safest streets and walkways in the world, but I think these things just encourage people to not think for themselves as many will just automatically filter them out as white noise.

sadly, it took someone getting killed to show how incredibly stupid and dangerous this behavior is.

5 ( +5 / -0 )

@Leigh - Well said!!!

0 ( +0 / -0 )

How tragic! It's impossible to imagine how this victim's family and friends must feel.

IMO, I think this problem has more to do with respect than education, and learning how to respect others begins at home.

3 ( +3 / -0 )

Smartphone addiction = adult acquired autism.

4 ( +5 / -1 )

I absolutely hate it when someone is cycling during the night with NO lights. You can get lights at the 100 yen shops for god's sake. Me, I have a back light, a bright front light and lights for the wheels. Most cost about 100 yen, apart from my USB light.

4 ( +4 / -0 )

Prison is not a suitable way for the student to make amends and repay his debt to the man's family.

Yes it is.

It's about deterrence.

If we want to prevent things like this in the future, we need to make an example of people who commit such willful negligence.

0 ( +3 / -3 )

I am sure the young man was not even riding fast.

Several reasons for this kind of death folowing my experience of heavy bike ride in cities in different countries :

lack of common sense, largely exposed by previous commentors. I am a champion at riding in cities and cannot imagine a second having my hearing/moving capacity blocked. If so, I would move at low walk speed with no accident possible outside a bump.

absence of prevention, punishment. It seems behaving riskily stupid is good and even promoted as no adult ever criticize and shout at this behavior. If I done the necessary and told my kids if ever they do that, they endanger themselves and I would punish them so harshily that they don't even now think about dare doing it.

road lighting : I don't know you but on average you can't see enough on the pavement, it is in between. Better to be either full dark or good lighting. (And that is if there is)

absence of bike lane : if there is, no respect from anyone. There should be way more on many roads, especially against drive direction for cars, which has proven to be safer.

old age people not caring : it is also sometimes good to not put one in some wrong spots, especially if one day you cannot react with due speed to a situation (corner especially).

horn : why do Japanese don't hardly use any . Is it OK to hear commercial brain killing music in and outside shops but no warning (small) noise to avoid accidents in the streets ?
0 ( +0 / -0 )

So RIP and lad should pay victim's family and have him do some 1000 hours works to support an road accident prevention center.

-2 ( +1 / -3 )

One would be very surprised to know it is illegal. What is the point of having a law and not enforcing it? It’s absolutely ridiculous! Using a cell phone while riding a bicycle. Wearing headphones while riding a bicycle. Children under 13 must wear a helmet. All of these things are illegal, not that anybody would know.

Then, let’s move onto the same scenarios while driving a vehicle. I nearly got hit by some idiot yesterday. I was on a crossing and he was busy texting on his phone and missed me by centimeters. I often see drivers with headphones on, which is illegal, in case nobody had realized.

Cyclists are way way too carefree in Japan. In this case, the law has only served to give the perpetrator a more severe sentence. It’s not going to replace the life of the woman he killed.

3 ( +3 / -0 )

Smartphone addiction = adult acquired autism.

You nailed it!

1 ( +1 / -0 )

Sorry. Although the student was clearly at fault, I fail to see how NOT using the headphones would’ve avoided this accident. He’s not a bat. I use my earbuds all the time while cycling and I find it makes me hyper aware of my surroundings since my hearing is compromised due to the music.

Although such a practice may put me in danger of being hit, admittingly, I personally have never hit nor almost hit somebody due to me enjoying my tunes. That’s what eyes are for...

That said, the unfortunate thing is, a middle-aged man has lost his life and young man has ruined his due to this completely avoidable accident.

-2 ( +1 / -3 )

 I hope he gets 20 years

Haven't you been in Japan long enough to know 19 is considered a minor hence he will do no prison time?

1 ( +2 / -1 )

Although such a practice may put me in danger of being hit, admittingly, I personally have never hit nor almost hit somebody due to me enjoying my tunes. That’s what eyes are for...

I’ve done a lot of long distance bicycling in Japan and so have experienced many different road/pavement conditions. I need to hear what’s going on around me that’s yet out of sight especially things behind me. Even doing that hybrid cars will be up to me before I hear them. Any distraction increases the danger.

I’m glad to hear you’ve never had a problem. May it continue.

1 ( +1 / -0 )

This and giving driving license to VERY old people... I hope both problems are solved soon as to prevent further accidents.

1 ( +1 / -0 )

This problem can be solved by issuing large fines, e.g. Y200,000, to those caught riding a bike with headphones or earphones. If you are cycling on the road you need to be able to hear the cars coming up behind you, or approaching a junction.

1 ( +2 / -1 )

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