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2 girls riding a bike hit by car in Chiba; one dies

44 Comments

One young girl was killed and another girl injured when the bicycle they were riding was hit by a car in Kisarazu City, Chiba Prefecture, on Wednesday afternoon, police said Thursday.

According to police, the accident happened at approximately 4:20 p.m. The two 4th-grade girls, aged 10 and 9, were riding on a sidewalk. As they tried to cross a street, they were hit by an oncoming car. Both girls were taken to hospital. The 10-year-old girl, identified as Moe Kaneko, was pronounced dead a short time later. Her 9-year-old companion is in a stable condition, police said.

Police said Thursday they are questioning the car's driver, Mika Yanagawa, 43, but have not released any other details.

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Not a lot of details, but I hope the other girl recovers. Glad to hear, supposedly, that the driver did not drive off and stayed.

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Horrible accident for everybody involved, and one that none will ever forget. Please be careful kids, and drivers.

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I don't often see two children riding the one bicycle in my neighborhood. These two shouldn't have been doing it either. I'm surprised the police didn't arrest the driver of the car immediately. They usually do in these cases.

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Let me guess... of the two kids riding the one bike, neither was wearing a helmet.

I have no doubt that they probably pulled out in front of the woman and it was too sudden for the woman to avoid hitting them. A very sad case. I see kids doubling on bikes and swerving on and off sidewalks, on the wrong side of the road, emailing while riding, etc., all the time, and it amazes me we don't hear more about this often.

The police should maybe try to say something more to kids they see doing this kind of thing. I know it would be impossible to suddenly start enforcing the law for them, but a stern warning here and there instead of turning a blind eye might help.

My condolences to the parents, and I hope the other girl pulls out of this okay. My heart goes out to the driver as well, assuming she didn't do anything wrong here.

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2 people on a bike involves:

lost of balance

loss of power when pedaling (especially when you need to avoid obstacle)

greater braking distance

Sad event but I hope that will be a lesson to THE OTHER KIDS!

I'm always scared to it someone riding a bicycle without lights and carring an umbrella during rain at night.

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"I have no doubt that they probably pulled out in front of the woman"

And you have no doubt they were not in a crosswalk. And you have no doubt she did not run a red light. And you have no doubt she was not talking on the cellphone. And you have no doubt the sun was not in her eyes.

Case closed.

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smithinjapan - "probably no helmet"

what? seriously? helmets for bike riders is stupid. a silly foam helmet won't help you against a 2-ton CAR

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No matter what the kids were or weren't doing, it's still the driver's responsibility, legally and morally. I dodge bicyclists every day when I drive here, but I pay attention. You have to realize that you're driving a machine that weighs a few tons and act like it, which means paying attention and avoiding obstacles like bicyclists and pedestrians. If you can't do that, you shouldn't drive. The children's behavior is irrelevant, case closed. If you think the rules of the road are harsh or unfair, don't drive. It's not as though Japan doesn't have a public transport you can use.

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The one answer no parent will want to know. Which of the girls was 'responsible'?

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I still cannot comprehend how Japan has a traffic light system where pedestrians, including children, are given a green light to cross and cars turning are also given a green light to turn ? I am pretty sure that yet another child has been killed whilst cycling over a crossing with a green light and being hit by a vehicle that also has a green light to turn. It's not the childs fault because they have a green light to cycle across and it's not the drivers fault when a child comes cycling out of nowhere whilst they are driving into the turn. It's the governments fault.

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societymike:

a silly foam helmet won't help you against a 2-ton CAR

what if you bang your head falling from the bike after the collision and you die from that? High speed collision, a helmet probably won't help much but at a low speed impact they have been proven to lessen the damage. My kids wear them.

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flatearther:

If you can't do that, you shouldn't drive. The children's behavior is irrelevant, case closed.

No way. a car at 50kms takes about 15 meters to stop taking in reaction time. A cyclist suddenly swerving into your path say 10 meters in front of you is going to be an unavoidable collision if there is no room to swerve. Your right to say we all need to be aware of the conditions when we are out and about.

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northlondon: Lo-and-behold we agree again! While the number of intersections with separate lights for pedestrians (where the can cross in any direction) than those for drivers in either direction are increasing, they are still very, very much in the minority. It's definitely a pain in the a$$ to wait at a signal for a pedestrian signal after waiting through two others signals, it's better than dying, and may prove necessary to implement further. Won't happen every where, but it can happen in any place with an intersection and signals.

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Has anyone every noticed the painted sign on the pavement??? All bicycles are to stop at an intersection regardless of light color, no one ever stops. This too is coming from an avid bike rider.

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I still cannot comprehend how Japan has a traffic light system where pedestrians, including children, are given a green light to cross and cars turning are also given a green light to turn ?

I have to agree with this point!

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Illegal in Japan, I hope the throw the book at the girl. Condolences to the families. This is however, a rare case, and two kids on a bike is quite common. Let's not over-react...

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@flatearther

No matter what the kids were or weren't doing, it's still the driver's responsibility, legally

Actually this is untrue, even in Japan. There are limits to the assumption of strict liability.

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societymike - helmets for bike riders is stupid. a silly foam helmet won't help you against a 2-ton CAR

Oh, you poor person. Would you like to come to my house and test your theory? I'll drive my car into you with and without a helmet on and we'll see which impact you survive. If these kids were wearing helmets there is a high probability the girl would have survived. Head injuries are the most common cause of death in bicycle accidents. I have seen more kids wearing helmets, but it is still very few kids wearing them.

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whoever is at fault doesn't matter now as one person is dead. But there needs to be effective education on bicyle riding in Japan as many of them believe they own the road, never stopping at a red light or stop sign, riding without lights at night (not necessarily for the sake of being able to see at night but to identify that they are on the road), and texting while riding. The rules of road safety apply to both vehicles and bicycle riders. Each time you go and renew your drivers' license, you are forced to watch a video on road safety and they say how the rules apply to bicycle riders too.

I have seen quite a few head-on collisions in my part of Tokyo involving two bicyclists because one was going full-speed against the red light while the other was going full-speed with the right of way.

They believe the rules are only for motor vehicles and that they are exempt from traffic regulations.

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I made a comment after the other recent car vs child accident in Chiba that it always seems that Chiba has these sad pedestrian/car collisions more than other prefectures.

Why is that, I wonder? Is it just coincidence, or are the roads in Chiba more unsafe than other areas?

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My stepbrother was saved by a helmet when he was knocked off his bike by a car and landed head-first on the road. The helmet was badly cracked and all he had was a head ache.

Deaths in car vs. bicycle accidents are usually from the cyclist's head hitting the car or the road after being sent flying, not because the car struck the cyclist's body, and helmets have been proven to reduce the number of deaths among bicycle riders. I am constantly amazed by the number of people like societymike who just don't seem to get this.

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I still cannot comprehend how Japan has a traffic light system where pedestrians, including children, are given a green light to cross and cars turning are also given a green light to turn ? I am pretty sure that yet another child has been killed whilst cycling over a crossing with a green light and being hit by a vehicle that also has a green light to turn. It's not the childs fault because they have a green light to cycle across and it's not the drivers fault when a child comes cycling out of nowhere whilst they are driving into the turn. It's the governments fault.

yes

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Of all the potential hazards driving in Japan, cyclists scare me the most! They often ride wrong side, emerge from a side road without stopping, wobble and swerve unexpectedly, go straight through red lights and yes even level crossings. Very few wear a helmet, that I think should be mandatory. The driver of a vehicle is always blamed for accidents involving cyclists regardless of circumstances. cyclists for god sakes wear a helmet!

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I guess its a miracle that the amount of accidents involving cyclists is still pretty low comparing with the vast number of cyclists who ride their bikes in these narrow streets of the suburbs with 0% visibility in many cases.

I still cannot comprehend how Japan has a traffic light system where pedestrians, including children, are given a green light to cross and cars turning are also given a green light to turn ?

This is something that also occurs back in my homecountry, Greece. Of course, the driver who is about to turn has to at least pay attention to the pedestrians who are about to cross the street. I thought this was happening only in Greece, until i came to Japan.

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4:20 p.m. School is out and more kids about , We licensed drivers know the dangers, the same as we know during the summer holidays there are less cars and bikes moving during the morning rush to school . I say the driver is at fault for not paying attention to this particular danger .

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We don't have any problems with cars turning at the same time we have the green man, despite the fact it's completely different back home.

At the very least it means pedestrians are more likely to watch what the cars are doing, instead of trusting to the drivers to being paying attention enough to actually stop at a red light. There's no country in the world where it's always safe for pedestrians to cross with the green man without checking what the cars are doing.

I feel deeply saddened by this accident, and all the others that I read about here and back home. Poor kids, I hope it was the driver's fault so they can throw the book at him so to speak. But knowing kids, and knowing how they swerve even more than normal when 2 kids are on 1 bike, I can imagine all too easily that they suddenly veered into the road. Was it on a crossing? Maybe, after all there's a footpath so it must be more than the average Japanese road. Maybe they'll show the scene on the news later. Hope the second kid gets through ok.

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There is no mention of traffic lights or a pedestrian crossing. May we assume that they did not cross the road at a crossing or at lights? In that case it would have been sensible to look to see if a car was coming.

I may sound unsympathetic, but I drive a car and have seen many suicidal morons riding bicycles in this country. Headphones are still popular amongst cyclists, and lights at night or still unpopular.

On several occasions I have forced cyclists to stop and given them a lecture on safety after they did something stupid like swerve off a pavement or doing a u-turn in front of my car without looking.

If you jump in front of a train, you are wrong and your family must pay JR. If you ride a bike in front of a car, the driver is wrong and must pay.

Unfortunately, cyclists require no licence so they cannot effectively be banned from riding. Perhaps they should be licensed. Even if a test were not required to get the licence, it would be possible to ban the irresponsible from riding.

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It may be that the driver turned directly into the pedestrian crossing without looking to see if anyone was approaching and the girls came up too fast for the her to stop. They could even have come from out of a blind spot. Or maybe the girls were not at an intersection and just turned off the sidewalk into the road. It's tragic in any case. As for the poster who wrote about cyclists swerving and wobbling unexpectedly, I don't know if you ride bicycles but there are many reasons for that. Of course skill level plays a big part but hitting a pothole, crack or something in the road, the strength and direction of the wind or even a large vehicle passing by which may send a wave of air rushing at the cyclist all can contribute. Also, it's just about impossible to cycle in a straight line. Just my two cents.

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People in Japan have to learn that bikers are NOT supposed to be following the rules of pedestrians. They should be following the rules of cars. They are mechanized and therefore should be doing exactly the same as cars where they are allowed to be. When police fail to clamp down on these infractions (which include double riding, riding on sideWALKS, riding DRUNK as Fck and a slew of others) they create an environment where these accidents will happen. It really is tragic that this girl died. But with Smithy, I'm more surprised that this isn't on the news as often as random stabbers, arsonists and chikans. I guess that is a good thing, except that it will continue business as usual and the lawlessness of bike riders will keep on keeping on.

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Terrible accident.

Mika Yanagawa is going to lose her driver's license, possibly for life. Even if the girls suddenly darted out into the street in front of her car, she is at fault in the eyes of the law.

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I still cannot comprehend how Japan has a traffic light system where pedestrians, including children, are given a green light to cross and cars turning are also given a green light to turn ?

Really? Where do you guys live? This hasnt been a problem in the prefecture that I live in for at least 6 years now.

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Let's not forget that these were young CHILDREN -- nine and ten years old -- and the last I saw, children aren't expected to have the same level of experience around traffic laws as adults simply because they aren't old enough to legally drive. The discussion of cyclists vs. motorists is an important one that should be taken seriously at the administrative/government level, and I would encourage anyone with concerns in that regard to make their voices heard in their communities and try to impact safety regulations to reduce the risk of accidents.

That said, whether or not these girls were observing proper traffic laws is really beside the point. As I stated before, their youth would make that argument redundant. However, whether or not they were familiar with the legalities of the situation, they ABSOLUTELY should have been acquainted with safe operating procedures when riding a bicycle in an area with motor vehicle traffic. The article says the girls were trying to cross the street when they were struck by the car. Did they stop to look both ways before crossing the street? Did they wait for oncoming traffic to clear or come to a stop before making their way into the road? Were they wearing helmets? (The article doesn't mention if they were or not). These are all basic safety precautions that any child should have drilled into them from day one, especially by the time they reach the 4th grade. If your child doesn't understand the concept of "look both ways before crossing the street," then they shouldn't be out on their own unsupervised. I know the parents of the little girl are grieving right now, but I want ALL parents to understand the importance of imbuing their children with basic safety skills to prevent more accidents like this one. And more than just telling your children "look both ways before crossing the street," parents -- and everyone else, but especially parents -- should practice what they preach and observe those same safety protocols themselves. This would not only reduce the chances of more children being killed, but it would also lessen the unsafe cyclist behavior so many previous commenters have described.

Did these girls observe proper safety protocol? I don't know. Did the driver maintain proper vigilance? I don't know that either. All I know is that accidents will happen, even when everyone is trying their hardest to prevent them, and this might just be a case of too little, too late. I send my sympathies to the family of the little girl, my well-wishes to the other girl who is recovering, and my hope for a just and fair ruling on behalf of the driver.

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If the girls hadn't been weaving in and out of traffic, then this never would have happened.

What. There was nothing in the article that said the girls were weaving in and out of traffic? Well there was nothing in the article about 90% of the circumstances the rest of you are using to assign blame so why should I be any different?

As usual, the article in JT is woefully berift of facts, so none of us can HONESTLY draw any conclusions about who was or was not at fault. The only things we know as FACTS are that one child is dead, one is injured, and a driver has to live with the knowledge that she killed a child with her car. Whether it was her fault or not will not lessen the pain.

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If I was this driver I would be feeling absolutely devastated right now. I am going tobe driving in Japan soon and it scares the hell out of me that I could be the unwitting victim of a child suddenly appearing in front of me.

I KNOW we don't know if that is what happened in this case - but in Japan it seems it is always automatically the drivers fault. A friend of mine was sitting, not moving, at a junction, when a 9 year old came down the hill behind him on a bike and crashed into the back of his car. She was seriously injured. She wasn't wearing a helmet and the brakes weren't working on her bike. But HE was still arrested and blamed for the accident by the police! (Until thank God the girls parents admitted responsibility and apologised to him).

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I still cannot comprehend how Japan has a traffic light system where pedestrians, including children, are given a green light to cross and cars turning are also given a green light to turn ? I am pretty sure that yet another child has been killed whilst cycling over a crossing with a green light and being hit by a vehicle that also has a green light to turn. It's not the childs fault because they have a green light to cycle across and it's not the drivers fault when a child comes cycling out of nowhere whilst they are driving into the turn. It's the governments fault.

This happened on the intersection in a residential district where there was no signal light. But then again, let's blame it on the government.

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No matter what the kids were or weren't doing, it's still the driver's responsibility, legally and morally.

Legally, people are not always liable for things that cannot be helped. If she was driving the speed limit on the road where she should be and if there were no crosswalks or anything making it proper for a pedestrian or biker to get on the road, she did nothing wrong. It would be illegal on the part of the bikers. If this can be proved, she will, legally and rightfully, get away scott-free.

It does not matter if school has been out. That is nearly half the day. It is completely impractical to have all drivers slow down for this half a day so that children are allowed to do stupid things without consequence. There are school zones for a reason. There, drivers are on high alert and are rightfully liable.

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I still cannot comprehend how Japan has a traffic light system where >pedestrians, including children, are given a green light to cross and >cars turning are also given a green light to turn.

I can. Because we have the exact same system here in the United States. The rule is that the non-driver ALWAYS HAS THE RIGHT OF WAY. In other words, the car must wait for the pedestrians to cross before proceeding. I was under the impression that Japan had the same traffic law. Correct me if I am mistaken.

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Its only a matter of time before someone with a video recorder catches someone with lack of regard for their surroundings while riding a bicycle and then sues the government for making rediculous laws that should protect everyone, not just peds and bicycle riders.

I am not saying these 2 girls were doing anything wrong, since there are no details included in the report - but when I think about if I were to hit a ped and then go to jail, or have to pay huge sums of money when the ped for example fails to stop at a stop sign, red light, or similar situations, what happens to my family then? because of the poor judgement of someone else, my family should suffer? I dont think so, tim.

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OssanAmerica at 06:53 AM JST - 10th July

I still cannot comprehend how Japan has a traffic light system where >pedestrians, including children, are given a green light to cross and >cars turning are also given a green light to turn.

I can. Because we have the exact same system here in the United States. The rule is that the non-driver ALWAYS HAS THE RIGHT OF WAY. In other words, the car must wait for the pedestrians to cross before proceeding. I was under the impression that Japan had the same traffic law. Correct me if I am mistaken.

If you drive down a straight road with sidewalks for peds, and someone standing on the sidewalk decides to jump in front of your car just at the moment when it would pass him by - for reasons of suicide, neglegence, or ANY other reason - the driver is at fault in Japan, regardless if he has time to stop or not.

Its odd tho, because suicide jumpers in front of trains, their families must pay gross ammounts of money to JR to pay for the delay to everyone.

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This morning, riding my bike to the station, I noticed that most of the kids riding their bikes to school have EARPHONES while riding their bikes. This is extremely, extremely dangerous, why? You go of to your musical dreamworld and stop paying attention to your immediate environment and this is the perfect combination for a horrible accident!!! I hope these young girls were not listening to their IPods etc..but RIP little girl!

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Not only earphones, people riding bicycles and driving cars can often be seen using cell phones to send email. While they are moving no less! In one day in the around 2.5 hours of driving I do I can usually see 30 or more drivers, and 100 or more children on bikes using cell phones.

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I simply dont understand why this doesnt happen every ten seconds. I cant believe they were even using the sidewalk. I heard that is VERY agaisnt the law!!! Where I live there will be old ladies and studetns all over the road on their bikes. The old dont even look when they cross. Or they come from a blind corner and shoot around right infront of me with out even slowing down or looking to see if I am about to kill them with my 2 ton car. In a given week I have no less than 5 close calls a day, 4 of those 5 or becuase of bikes.

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Most drivers in Japan, not only in Chiba, are idiots, racing through tiny, narrow alleys at break neck speeds, while watching baseball games on the tv which is part of the car navigation system (GPS) and talking or texting on their cellphones all at the same time, just accidents waiting to happen at any second!!! RIP little girl in Chiba.

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As numerous posters have testified, the number of cyclists who come out of side streets into main roads without even so much as a cursory glance to see what they are about to ride into the path of simply beggars belief - Even if they are riding into the side strip, thats what OTHER CYCLISTS use! so they should still be checking for other cyclists even if they think theyll be safe from motor vehicles in the side strip - the number of times I have been cut up like that whilst cycling is just shocking.

And the old... Ok, so they may have a healthy diet, but I would have thought reckless cycling would have kept their numbers lower.

In my home country, school children of an age similar to these girls are encouraged to do a "cycling proficiency" course, which teaches basic safety for road riding. Not here though it seems...

Morover, considering that drivers are, in the majority of cases, culpable for any accidents they are involved in, I find it amazing that they are so wilfully careless (The old "even though I am going slow enough to stop easily and safely, and the light is now red, I will still pass through this intersection" red light run being an easily identifiable example). Why aren`t there cameras set up to catch these errant and dangerous "drivers"?

But really, the driving culture here is seriously flawed. As a 2 wheel lover, Ive just taken the paper test here so I can ride a large motorbike. Due to a rather poor translation for the English language paper, I had to take the test numerous times. It seems to me that driving tests in Japan are simply a cash cow, as at no point were my incorrect answers revealed to me (even when I specifically requested), so I was not able to learn where I was going wrong, and be able to learn from my mistakes. Even when i passed, they still didnt tell me what I had gotten wrong - I wanted to know in case I was believing something was correct, when was actually wrong & dangerous. And the pass mark is 90%!?!?!?! I simply cannot reconcile this with what I witness on the road, numerous times, everyday.

And why are the police not out stopping scooter riders? who I routinely see riding recklessly, ignoring traffic signals, going around other vehicles by using the sidewalk, and often riding with the straps of their helmet not done up, or the helmet has slid to the back of their head, or as I witnessed last night - holding it on with one hand (which meant that they were riding with only one hand, which would increase their chances of losing control & falling in the event of hitting a bump/hole - cule desperate attempt to control the scooter, hand comes off helmet, helmet comes off head, brains all over the road)

And don`t even get me started on taxi drivers, who apparently need a 2nd class (higher skill level) licence...

Apologies for the strange typeface and seemingly absent punctuation... my computers weird, or at least thats what it looks like on the preview.

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