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Cyclists using phones to be fined up to Y50,000

42 Comments

Authorities in Osaka Prefecture have finally put their foot down on cyclists who yap while they pedal. Tokyo Shimbun (Dec 1) reports that effective Monday, people in the prefecture caught using cell phones while riding a bicycle could be fined up to 50,000 yen.

In 2007, 18,500 bicycle accidents were reported in Osaka Prefecture and in many cases, the cause was found to be people steering with one hand or distracted while using a cell phone.

Over three-day periods in July and August, prefectural police in Osaka and Sakai cities observed that of 1,380 passing cyclists, 214, (15.5%), were listening to music players and 50 (3.6%) were using mobile phones.

In addition to banning talking on cell phones while cycling, Osaka's new law applies to cyclists who use the phones to send messages or play games while in motion.

Laws prohibiting such activities are already in force in Akita, Hyogo and Tokushima Prefectures.

© Japan Today

©2021 GPlusMedia Inc.

42 Comments
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go Osaka!!

now if they would just do something in Tokyo...

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I've heard cyclists can be fined 50,000 for holding an umbrella while riding.

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18,500 accidents in many cases the cause was using cell phones. 1,380 cyclists, 50 (3.6%) were using mobile phones.

JT's concept of 'many' and mine differ. About 600 accidents out of 18,500 were caused by cell phones (given that 3.6% number.) And the other 17,900 were caused by...? Cars whose drivers were using cell phones, reading manga, watching TV? Pedestrians using cell phones, reading manga, off in space - not paying attention to where they were?

Instead of banning cell phone use while bicycling, perhaps they should ban bicycles. (100% of bicycle accidents involved a bicycle, afterall.)

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borscht - I'd have no qualms with your last idea. It would make the pavements a lot safer for pedestrians.

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borscht - I was just talking about this the other day, 100% of car accidents involve a car. Probably more productive would be getting bicyclists to obey existing rules - too many accidents are from them riding through pedestrians on the sidewalk (against the rules), etc.. I've been bumped a dozen times that way and none of them were official "accidents', and I guarantee if those bruises counted we'd be talking millions of incidents instead of tens of thousands.

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While they're at it, the should go after those brainless young mums I constantly see, eyes affixed to their keitais while pushing prams in crosswalks at intersections. That's reckless endangerment. (Or child abuse.)

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Now if they would only enforce the rule for car drivers....

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Are they a problem? Do they kill or run into people? Seems laws in Japan come about by anything that "annoy" old people about young people.

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Are they a problem? Do they kill or run into people?

yes they are, yes they do. often the cyclists are old people

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But it is okay to handle combustible materials while they are burning, and hold burning objects in your hands and mouth while driving or cycling? If they are banning communications while in motion, then smoking should be banned as well. Come on Diet...how are you going to handle this hot potato?

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Good thing, but I hardly ever see Jcoppers enforcing the laws, they just make a law thinking people will just obey it, not. I have kids and just walking on the sidewalk can be dangerous of these gun ho cyclist charging at high speed to down a side walk to make a light or whatever, watch when you walk out of store with one of these morons thinking we should jump out of the way..they ring their bells (which is not allowed also) thinking we should move for their selfish way..peace out

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I don't live in Osaka, but if I did, I'd be saying "Screw you Osaka City office!" - this is just too much! Soon they'll be fining people for breathing too much!!

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yeah, and they will get suspended sentences - i mean tickets. seems to be the way the law is upheld in this country.

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In principle a good thing. In practice, another pretense to stop foreigners.

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Are they a problem? Do they kill or run into people?

yes they are, yes they do. often the cyclists are old people

10 years in Japan, besides the squeaky breaks and the funny stare I've never seen anyone have a bike accident phone or no phone... has anyone else?

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"but it's OK... to hold burning objects in your hands and mouth while driving or cycling?"

Of course!

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Good thing, but I hardly ever see Jcoppers enforcing the laws, they just make a law thinking people will just obey it, not. I have kids and just walking on the sidewalk can be dangerous of these gun ho cyclist charging at high speed to down a side walk to make a light or whatever, watch when you walk out of store with one of these morons thinking we should jump out of the way..they ring their bells (which is not allowed also) thinking we should move for their selfish way..peace out

Well since they aren't supposed to bike on the street where would you wish them to go? Are they supposed to follow a sidewalk speed limit? And yes, please do watch out when you walk out of a store. You might get hit by a bike, a car or someone else walking. Not looking before you step out onto a street or sidewalk is foolish. Heaven forbid they ring their bell to ask people walking 3-4 abreast to share the sidewalk.

Certainly there are some rude bikers out there but folks walking can be just as dangerous and rude to those on bikes and others walking. Share the sidewalk and be aware. If everyone did that there wouldn't be so many problems.

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Oh i understand kids on bikes are more easier to catch than those using a phone while driving a car

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It has been a while since I was in Osaka, but here in Tokyo there seem to be very few bicyclists who are aware that, with some exceptions, they are subject to the laws governing vehicles, not pedestrians. That includes signaling for turns (when's the last time you saw a bicyclist doing that?), and riding in the street except where sidewalks have dedicated cycle areas.

The problem, it seems to me, with cell phone use vs. smoking while riding is the degree of attention being paid to something other than what is in front of or around the cyclist.

Personally, I'm more concerned about the dramatically increased number of cyclists who seem to think that traffic signals don't apply to them. I'd love to see big fines imposed on the many cyclists who blithely ride through red lights...so many in the last couple of years that it has become remarkable when a cyclist actually stops at a red light.

One could say that the problem is self-correcting, and that such cyclists will eventually be picked off and suffer the fate they brought on themselves. Unfortunately, car or motorcycle drivers who hit bicyclists, even if they have run a red light, get the blame.

It's particularly irresponsible for people with kids on their bikes to be running red lights, but they're no more targets for enforcement of that here than they are for having two kids riding on the bike with their parent. That's against the law, but except for a brief campaign recently, I don't see any enforcement of that, either.

I'm not talking about exceptional or unusual behavior here, either: it is widespread.

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people in the prefecture caught using cell phones while riding a bicycle could be fined up to 50,000 yen.

and what if they are unable to pay or say refuse to pay? No jail term, it will be put an additional burden on Osaka pref.

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Well since they aren't supposed to bike on the street where would you wish them to go

Look it up, they are suppose to bike on the street, it is technically illegal to bike on the sidewalk in Japan but everyone does it even the police. Next time a person rings their bell behind you don't stand out of the way the side walk is for walking not riding.

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Gogogo, it's not really possible to bike on the streets if there are too many cars parked on the side of the road -- you'll be ducking out from behnid them all the time and won't be able to see the road in front of you. On streets without parked cars, I agree, cycling on the edge of the road is best.

People love to talk about how uncluttered and safe the streets would be if there were no bicycles, but the real problem is automobiles and how society always puts them first. Imagine streets without cars taking up all that space!

Cycling is healthy, cheap, and, in the nation where the Kyoto Protocol was born, as environmentally-aware as you can get. I'd love to see more car-free, bicycle-oriented streets. Get those giant automobiles out of the way and it would leave plenty of room for cyclists and pedestrians both.

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Why don't people use headsets? Headsets work great and they leave both hands free, especially if you set up the voice control on the phone. I don't know why people don't do this. But I'm sure that the enforcement will be selective. Oh well. Outlawing cell phone use while driving / riding is about the same as making vice illegal. Neither has worked in NY, believe me.

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ThonTaddeo: I don't disagree, but it's the law, you're technically not allowed to ride on the sidewalk, a bike has all the same rules as a car. Get rid of the taxi's there are too many of them just parked doing nothing

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Is there any traffic rule which is obeyed by cyclists in Japan at all? What then makes the Osaka authorities think that this one will be followed...?

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In principle a good thing. In practice...

Well...I wouldn't worry too much about that. I've never seen anyone pulled over for not having their children in a car seat.

I think this will see limited practice, at best.

Taka

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It sounds like a nice idea that will be ignored like the rest. I'm not sure how many of you realize that another law was made several months ago that changed the law for running red lights to a criminal offense in Japan. In fact a bicyclist will face heavier fines than a car driver...in theory at least. Personally I do follow the rules of the road which state that bicyles use the roadway unless the signs state otherwise or it is unsafe to do so. In fact road crews ALWAYS point me to the sidewalk when they see me biking on the road. I find it humourous that they don't even know the rules when they are supposed to be directing traffic. I admit that I occasionally use my keitai when I'm biking but I also use a headset so that I can use both hands. Also I go quite slowly and pay a lot more attention to traffic and other bicylists. I think the real problem is that too many people just don't pay attention to what's going on around them, which includes pedestrians.

Once I was biking quite fast (on the road, not sidewalk) when this woman decided to cross a busy street where there was no cross walk, light or even corner. To make things worse, she didn't even look before she started to cross. Basically she stepped right out in front of me when I was going in excess of 30km/hr. Fortunately for both her and myself I have excellent brakes and I was able to come to a screeching halt although my back tire came up and my bike almost flipped over me. She was quite surprised to see me stop in time and at least had the presence of mind to apologize for stepping out in the middle of traffic.

So I rarely bike on the sidewalks unless it's really unsafe. It's the law, but I also find it much safer as pedestrians are way more unpredictable than cars. At least car drivers had to pass a test!

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gogogo, you probably don't see bikes often enough. I've seen over a dozen but they were all minor (i.e. all of the injuries sustained by a poor pedestrian jabbed by a bike handle or elbow, foot run over by bike tire, etc..). One was a car accident where the biker fell sideways onto the car and blamed the car. None of them were reported though.

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borscht, You've assumed that the 3.6% rate of phone usage observed by the cops in July & August must have been the same amongst the cyclists involved in the accidents in 2007. You can't make that assumption. If the cops didn't witness any cyclists having an accident during the 3-day observation periods, would you conclude that no cyclist ever has an accident?

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Could someone give me a link to where it says bikes should be on the street? I've been told by everyone they need to be on the sidewalk.

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Dunno about laws, but in my town the pedestrian crossings have the ordinary stripey bit for pedestrians, and a bit with a picture of a bicycle for bicycles - both coming straight off the pavement (sidewalk), which tells me that in my town at least bicycles are expected to be on the pavement with the pedestrians, not on the road with the cars.

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tmarie: http://search.japantimes.co.jp/cgi-bin/ek20070123wh.html

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Same as the are in my city. Sidewalk is cut in half - walkers AND bikers. However, the walkers don't pay attention and walk in the bike zone.

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And that link doesn't say it is "law" to bike on sidewalks. If anything, it says it is ok when there is a sign - my city as signs. Sorry gogogo but you don't seem to be correct on the issue. Seems like no one knows - even the government. If they said streets, I would be happy as that is where I bike because I find those walking on sidewalks much more dangerous than the cars! If they said sidewalks so be it but then they need to have bike paths - and make people be aware of them! I'm up for giving fines to walkers using bike paths! Would probably help!

Mind you, Osaka.... Midosuji is supposed to be "smoke free" and I can tell you that certainly isn't the case!

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Yeah it's against the law in non bike areas, if you check most areas do not have these signs as no one is going to enforce the rule anyway, I've never seen one in minato-ku ever.

It's the main reason that if a bike hits someone walking the bike no matter what happened is always at fault. Same as a car...

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It's not illegal to bike on the sidewalk if there are signs saying it is okay to bike on the sidewalk.

The laws regarding cycling in the street or sidewalk are purposefully ambiguous so that the police have the latitude to act as they please. In some places, being in the street is illegal. In some places, being on the sidewalk is illegal. In some both are okay. The police in my area are always on the sidewalks (and I'm near a main ward station and see lots of them all the time), so I'm guessing it's okay to be on the sidewalk in my area.

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In the US the bicycles are supposed to be on the streets but many aren't. There are a lot of idiots who walk in the bike lanes on the sidewalk in a lot of countries. But if you're in the Netherlands in the bike lane and you hear a bell - it's probably too late and you're at fault.

I love that.

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I had a chat with the RCMP in my town over a scooter being riden on the sidewalk right at the exit/entrance of the Post Office. Some years previously I had the same problem with bicycle riders & especially teeners only the latter is bicycle riders must be on the roads.

So according to law a scooter has to be on the road as does a BICYCLE & only thing propelled by electricity is an invalid three or four wheeled vehicle for those that have trouble in walking. We have a fair number of them as so many people come to retire in this area & same town. Obviously Osaka is pretty well the same.

So the cellular would be subject to the same as car/truck drivers.

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The problem is that most violations are not enforced/ticketed. Just like the previous poster wrote, Midosuji is supposed to be smoke-free, but it's definitely not.

Near my house trucks and cars are ILLEGALLY parked on the side of the road so a busy two-lane road suddenly becomes one causing all kinds of dangerous situations. If the keystones were to ticket these approximately 20 cars, that would at least be 400,000 yen in our prefectural coffers every hour (and there are dozens of cars parked like this all day w/ the keystones doing nothing about this). These laws get passed with no action taken by these worthless "law enforcers".

As for bikes on sidewalks or streets, it's stated that bikes are to be ridden on streets except for sidewalks marked for both pedestrians and bikes. ALSO bikes are allowed on sidewalks where it is "deemed dangerous" to be on the street. Yes, it is very ambiguous and up to the keystones' interpretation - this is why no one seems to really know the rules concerning this.

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What this country REALLY needs is a law banning cyclists from riding bicycles.

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What a waste.....

Oh... Ok, let's crack down on those bicycle riders...

We all know they're the root of all evil...

Mean-while you've got these bozo's with the 1500cc moped's blowing through red lights, running people off the road... and recklessly riding these 1000 lbs motor vehicle's capable of killing someone....

I'd like to see the statistics of actual injuries caused by bicycle riders and then compare that with other forms of transportation like walking, driving, riding the train and riding the elevator for that matter....

This looks like one of those ridiculous fictitious research studies... Like the "Crimes Committed by Foreigners"... Where they count every person the police ever talked to, as a crime committed statistic....

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Actually, here they're severely under-counting accidents caused by bicyclists. Most simply aren't reported and I see them regularly - why would reporting your foot getting run over make any difference?

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