crime

Tourist driving go-kart arrested over hit-and-run

34 Comments

A 35-year-old Taiwanese tourist has been arrested on suspicion of hit-and-run after his go-kart hit a cyclist at an intersection in Tokyo’s Chiyoda Ward on Feb 23. The suspect, identified as Zhang Ren Jie, kept going, police said.

According to police, Zhang, dressed as a Nintendo game character, was turning left at the intersection in Sotokanda at around 6:30 p.m. last Friday when he hit the bicycle, Fuji TV reported.

Police said Zhang has admitted to the charge.

The 18-year-old man riding the bike received injuries that will take about two weeks to heal, police said.

Convoys of go-karts with drivers dressed as Super Mario characters have become a head-turning sight among Tokyo's traffic, but the rental companies behind the vehicles, with a customer base comprised mostly of foreign tourists, face growing scrutiny over safety concerns.

Rental operators let customers drive often-crowded public roads in the low-slung vehicles. Despite the legality of the operations, the Japanese government has raised concerns over the lack of safety measures being taken by five Tokyo-based operators following a spike in the number of go-kart accidents in recent months.

© Japan Today/Kyodo

©2019 GPlusMedia Inc.

34 Comments
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Convoys of go-karts with drivers dressed as Super Mario characters have become a head-turning sight among Tokyo's traffic, but the rental companies behind the vehicles, with a customer base comprised mostly of foreign tourists, face growing scrutiny over safety concerns.

We are seeing these idiots more and more down here, and driving in small packs on the major roadways here, they are becoming more and more of an annoyance and safety hazard.

The other day two guys were driving them, with one guy following in what looked like a Philippine jeepney type vehicle following them, and them driving at least 15 km UNDER the posted speed limit of 50. Plenty of folks had to brake-hard and switch lanes to avoid these butt-heads!

I for one would love to see them banned from open roads. It's only a matter of time until someone gets killed!

Then all we will see is the bowing and apologizing AFTER the fact!

18 ( +19 / -1 )

Glad the cyclist is okay.

The cyclist may have been partially responsible, but hit and run is not on. I thought these tours were guided so I don't know what the guide must be telling them if the kid just drove off. Did the guide drive off too?

-5 ( +2 / -7 )

“Did the guide drive off too?”

On TV yesterday someone was saying the guides are the leaders of the packs and the tourists run red lights and make other dangerous moves to keep up with the guide/rest of the group.

Everything I've ever seen about these from the beginning has made me think they should be completely banned from any regular streets. Riding around a closed loop at a dedicated facility would probably not have the same appeal to tourists interested in this but so be it.

12 ( +13 / -1 )

Because why would you drive a go-kart on normal, busy roads at BUMPER EYE LEVEL? I get it, it sounds fun and it's a great chance to see Tokyo from a different angle. But still, safety first.

3 ( +4 / -1 )

Daniel - did not realize the New York Yankees are in town! If so I need to get down and watch them. I wonder if the Taiwanese driver is at fault or the actual rental company.

I agree with the others above; this is really foolish. I see these guys scooting around all the time and it does not look safe and I am not surprised this happened (although I expected it to be one of the small cars being smashed by a truck).

I am amazed these guys are allowed to operate this way.

0 ( +2 / -2 )

@ yubaru, spot on mate!

2 ( +4 / -2 )

Wasn't there a woman who crashed a go-kart into a shop last year? I don't mind people using go-karts as long as they can drive and know the rules of the roads which of course tourists don't.

-1 ( +1 / -2 )

Instead of doing this in the crowded city, why don't they take operations to the burbs like Chiba or Saitama? There are plenty of wide open spaces such as parks or even abanoned lots to do this. People who really want to do this will travel the extra 30 minutes out of town I'm sure.

2 ( +5 / -3 )

game over.

-1 ( +3 / -4 )

How many points is a cyclist worth again? It used to be 50... But seriously, can we get gigantic plastic hammers installed at the Hachiko intersection in Shibuya for these mobile morons and the selfie/videoing tourist hordes?

-1 ( +3 / -4 )

I thought Nintendo sued these guys? They must really love the free PR from Luigi road raging on cyclists.

I figured the races were mostly closely monitored photo ops with most of the actual rental races done on closed roads. I had no idea they routinely let people into traffic. I don't think I'd ever drive one of those things next to full size cars.

-3 ( +1 / -4 )

On TV yesterday someone was saying the guides are the leaders of the packs and the tourists run red lights and make other dangerous moves to keep up with the guide/rest of the group.

I think it's crazy allowing these operations in the first place, and even more crazy if the guides there to give them supposed responsibility and respectability aren't even doing their job.

I bet these vehicles are only road legal on the assumption that owners know how to drive them. Pretty much everyone getting on these is a noob at driving a kart and a complete noob at driving a kart in city traffic. It is a recipe for trouble.

I don't know about a shop but one Korean lady drove one into a police box.

2 ( +3 / -1 )

The 18-year-old man riding the bike received injuries that will take about two weeks to heal, police said.

Ever notice that in every report of anyone being injured in Japan reporters write 'injuries will take about two weeks to heal? I looked into this and grilled doctors at various hospitals in Tokyo - all said 'this is what we all write' - really smart.

-4 ( +4 / -8 )

macv,

What exactly are you criticizing? That the doctors give an estimate of how long it will take injuries to heal and that the police/press include that in their reports? I see no problem with that. It gives the public a better idea of the severity of the injury/impact on the victim’s life.

Or are you saying that all such reports specify two weeks? If so, you are totally wrong. I routinely seee different estimates given, from a week to months.

4 ( +7 / -3 )

“even more crazy if the guides there to give them supposed responsibility and respectability aren't even doing their job.”

It makes sense to me that the guide would lead the group, otherwise how would they know where to go? But there is no way, being in the front, that they could keep track of what was happening behind them. I don’t know if there is a second staff member riding in the last position but there should be. But even then, realistically how exactly could they stop a customer from driving off after hitting someone/thing? In the end, they just shouldn’t be allowed on the roads.

0 ( +2 / -2 )

I encounter these go-carts every day here in Tokyo, they seem to be growing in number month by month. I'm amazed no one has been killed yet as they are hard to see being so low to the ground. I predict more and more accidents will occur and then the whole shebang will be shut down. Counting down the days.

2 ( +4 / -2 )

I need a Japanese driver's license for a 50cc moped....but I can ride one of these without one?

1 ( +4 / -3 )

Think outside the box people. These nuts actually think they are in a video game. The only way to counter them is to get into character and pick a super mario villain, and go after them.

Here's a list

http://villains.wikia.com/wiki/Category:Mario_Villains

Think I will go with Turbo Mecha Sonic. This could be a real case of life imitating art, a bit like the Pacman movie!

2 ( +4 / -2 )

The fun police are out in force here today it seems. I remember the days when skiiers wanted to ban snowboarders because it was dangerous. I'm not saying there should't be some regulation on this, but come on, it's great fun.

-8 ( +2 / -10 )

 I figured the races were mostly closely monitored photo ops with most of the actual rental races done on closed roads. I had no idea they routinely let people into traffic. I don't think I'd ever drive one of those things next to full size cars.

Magnus Roe - not at all! I was walking over the Rainbow Bridge a few weeks back and a whole fleet of the little buggers overtook me!

0 ( +0 / -0 )

No way should these karts be allowed on public roads.

A consequence of promoting your country to tourists as one massive theme park.

2 ( +3 / -1 )

By coincidence I was driving along Rainbow Rd the other day when one of them ahead of me left a banana skin on the road.

I ran over it and went into a massive spin which ground me to a halt. Luckily no one was hurt and everyone behind me passed me safely.

2 ( +2 / -0 )

The fun police are out in force here today it seems.

Trying to stop unlicensed motor vehicles being driven by untrained drivers from driving on your roads hardly counts as being the fun police.

1 ( +2 / -1 )

We have these around Okinawa too, and also awaiting an accident. I've seen them on Kokusai-dori which might be one of the few roads it could be kind of ok, as its the tourist trap road, and normally you can overtake cars by walking as its always slow moving. (If they want to gamble with taxi drivers driving).

But I have also seen them taken along route 58, which is the main multi-lane road through town, with cars and many large trucks going much quicker. I'm sure a truck wouldn't see these when lane switching, it would only see an open space, something lower than axel height would be a minor speedbump.

2 ( +2 / -0 )

Trying to stop unlicensed motor vehicles being driven by untrained drivers

1) They are fully licensed road vehicles

2) A driving license is required to rent one

2 ( +2 / -0 )

I think it’s pretty clear that these things do not belong on public roads. They were made for a racetrack and that is where they should stay.

3 ( +3 / -0 )

I've been on one of these tours. They are an absolute hoot! But yes, there is a high element of danger. I certainly wouldn't go on a night tour as they are hard to see for sure. The Singaporian ladies on my tour confessed to having never driven a vehicle since obtaining their licenses back home. Boy, was that evident.

3 ( +3 / -0 )

How on earth are these people allowed on the roads? And why has the Taiwanese man got a mainland Chinese name? The spelling.

0 ( +1 / -1 )

Most people really cannot drive very well. Letting them drive go karts on open streets was not a good idea.

The closed course idea is the best solution. One side of the track could run parallel with a real street to feel like they are on an open street.

But I realize that land is very expensive in Tokyo. Maybe the company could do what was done decades ago and put the track on top of a building like department store amusement parks used to? Think of the view!

-1 ( +0 / -1 )

What a relief. When I clicked on the article, I was certain it was going to be an American.

Between the danger and making tourists out to be even more obnoxious, just ban these things. It's only a matter of time before some hippie backpacker dressed as Luigi gets crushed by a dump truck.

-1 ( +1 / -2 )

The fun police are out in force here today it seems. I remember the days when skiiers wanted to ban snowboarders because it was dangerous. I'm not saying there should't be some regulation on this, but come on, it's great fun

Not even a close comparison, at least snowboarders dont ski uphill.

1 ( +2 / -1 )

For all of you who drive K-cars saying these carts should be outlawed, they have about as much crash protection as your car.

-1 ( +1 / -2 )

Not disagreeing here, but when cyclists on the sidewalk hit pedestrians and ride off it's not hit and run?

-1 ( +0 / -1 )

For all of you who drive K-cars saying these carts should be outlawed, they have about as much crash protection as your car.

You are trying to say that THIS has "about" as much protection;

https://response.jp/imgs/thumb_h2/1220792.jpg

As this?

https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=3qqhYQ2Q3YM

You gotta be crazy. Those carts are the equivalent of a 50CC scooter on the streets, and THOSE are bad enough weaving in and out of traffic.

0 ( +0 / -0 )

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