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New law aimed at curbing bicycle traffic violations, accidents goes into effect

63 Comments

In recent years, the number of bicycle traffic violations and bicycle-related accidents has been on the rise. In response to this, a revised traffic law went into effect nationwide on Monday.

Under the new law, any cyclist who is caught riding through a red light or violating other traffic regulations more than twice in a period of three years, will be required to take a safety course before being allowed back on the streets. The course lasts for three hours, and costs the participants 5,700 yen. Anyone who does not attend the course after receiving the order will be fined up to 50,000 yen.

There are 13 traffic violations covered by the new law.

-- Riding through/ignoring traffic signals -- Passing under a railway crossing gate -- Not stopping at stop signs -- Violating traffic regulations while riding on sidewalks -- Riding with malfunctioning/non-working brakes -- Riding a bicycle while intoxicated -- Entering off-limit areas -- Riding too slowly on sidewalks and obstructing pedestrian flow -- Not following traffic lines -- Riding onto pedestrian-only areas of sidewalks -- Entering crosswalk without green-light to do so -- Not paying attention to other pedestrians and or cyclists due to using mobile devices -- Violating regulations when at circular cross-walks

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63 Comments
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Under the new law, any cyclist who is caught riding through a red light

How do they propose to enforce this when they can't stop 90% of car drivers doing the same thing?

38 ( +42 / -5 )

May bring some business to bicycle repair shops and a slight increase in traffic police revenue.

-2 ( +4 / -6 )

The importance of the course is as a make-work scheme for retired police officers rather than educating the numerous oblivious bicycle owners. Will it pay for itself? Is a larger budget required from the public purse?

1 ( +3 / -2 )

Good luck with that!

7 ( +8 / -1 )

Riding too slowly on sidewalks and obstructing pedestrian flow

Is that even physically possible?

I should think what they should be cracking down on is riding too fast on sidewalks. Fast bikers belong on the road.

22 ( +22 / -0 )

When I first came to Japan, cyclists and pedestrians alike always waited patiently at crossings which were red. Cyclists always rode on the sidewalk which really was not a problem as they rode their bicycles in a responsible manner.

Now they ride on the streets with no lights at night, continually cycle across crossings on the red thereby putting motorists turning right stranded in the middle of the busy road to oncoming traffic. One of the worst habits that has crept in is the practice of cycling against the traffic flow. Seems they are too lazy to cross the road and cycle with the flow.

As I drive everyday, I see cyclists break the law far more than motorists. Us motorists have to be alert continually to the stupidity of many people on bicycles. Overall, I would say that Japanese drivers are more alert and courteous than many drivers in other countries.

Gobshite, 90 percent of car drivers going through red lights is an exaggeration.

2 ( +10 / -8 )

Now they ride on the streets

Originally the law was that bikes had to ride on the street. Over time with the proliferation of bikes riding on the sidewalk, they changed the law to allow it, but the default is still riding on the street.

I personally don't ride on the sidewalks because that would be dangerous for pedestrians at the speeds at which I ride.

5 ( +7 / -2 )

There are 13 traffic violations covered by the new law.

Not paying attention to other pedestrians and or cyclists due to using mobile devices

Very glad to see this.

Also, as it's apparently required to have a light. I'd like to see a bit more focus as to whether it's actually turned on.

2 ( +6 / -4 )

What happened to the law introduced in Jan 2014 banning riding on the right? Quietly abandoned?

7 ( +8 / -1 )

@SenseNotSoCommon

I think those were local laws in Tokyo and are probably still in force? (also the piste bikes without brakes). This new law is nationwide.

2 ( +2 / -0 )

M3,

Is there a link somewhere? Salmoning is really annoying as a cyclist, driver and pedestrian.

0 ( +1 / -1 )

so you can still hold an umbrella in one hand while using a 'mobile device'... as long as you are "paying attention to other pedestrians and or cyclists"... awesome

7 ( +10 / -3 )

Good luck with that. I see these violations a hundred times a day, including people riding into oncoming traffic and into my path as an avid cyclist. No one seems to take a blind bit of notice. Never seen J police stop anyone for any of these offences.

7 ( +9 / -2 )

How ironic the rules must be obeyed line of logic still dominates in the area of traffic infrastructure.

Where projecting a disproportionate amount of blame in traffic accidents to pedestrians or cyclist is seen as fair, good and actually going to have positive effect on the injury and death rate.

Whereas the world's best practice is to facilitate cyclists need to move efficiently through traffic, able to pass through red lights if done safely and where the 'road rules' applying to motor vehicles are far more flexible for cyclists. This is a typical punitive reactionary action that will have little if any effect at all.

Therefore re humanising streets roads and highways, generating a culture of road use that is integral, rather than dominating.

As no where on the planet in any developed city has this approach to cyclist had good outcomes, in point of fact it generally is counterproductive.

....

-2 ( +4 / -6 )

Now they need to make it an offense for police to stop random cyclists at checkpoints to "check their papers" when they could be stopping cyclists for clear violations of the law and traffic safety.

5 ( +6 / -0 )

These are all already law! I hope this 'new' law isn't just the usual lip-service and they actually start enforcing it.

-2 ( +3 / -5 )

Since they can't get the guy driving their gonna get the guy riding a bike! What are they going to do next ,you have to have a license to operate a bike!

3 ( +5 / -2 )

Better to focus on making cities truely cycle friendly and making serious efforts to reduce dirty, noisy, dangerous motorised - good cycle lanes, traffic free zones, park & ride. And stop destroying and replacing beautiful old buildingswith car parks.

6 ( +9 / -3 )

This requires the police to do something, better luck next time.

2 ( +4 / -2 )

The above article don't mention Umbrella, Headphones, etc.

Lots more details on yesterdays & todays wide shows and news.

The above sounds more like legal talk and don't drill down to what is actually affected.

2 ( +2 / -0 )

—Riding too slowly on sidewalks and obstructing pedestrian flow

—Riding onto pedestrian-only areas of sidewalks

is it me or are these two laws a bit contradictory? and i thought it was ok to legally ride on sidewalks only in tokyo and only under specific conditions (parents riding with children and 2 meter wide sidewalks)?

0 ( +0 / -0 )

Permitted pavement width has been changed from wider than 2 meters to 3 meters some time ago. No exception for mothers with kids.

This morning the mentioned speeding on sidewalks,not following the Tomare road markings for cycles, roadsigns that I indicate pedestrian only or shared sidewalk sections and a lot more liked non working in brakes, etc.

Of course umbrella, headphones are a no no as is riding side by side, etc .

It is OK for news but I get a fuller version from other outlets

1 ( +1 / -0 )

Another list of non-enforced lip-service laws. Who remembers the last lot in 2007 when they made it illegal to use a cell phone or listen to music and, all children under 13 must wear helmets. They also made it illegal to use an umbrella while riding a bicycle. We all know how these worked out, don't we?

7 ( +9 / -1 )

@SenseNotSoCommon

You can read the actual traffic act here (unfortunately only in Japanese) I believe it says bicycles should always keep to the left side of the road... unless it's 'unavoidable'.

http://law.e-gov.go.jp/htmldata/S35/S35HO105.html

1 ( +2 / -1 )

Headline should read "New law aimed at curbing bicycle traffic goes into effect"

3 ( +4 / -1 )

What is the definition of unavoidable? I prefer to ride on the opposite side if it seems safer. For example, the right side of the road is straight, while the left side has a lot of stores with cars parked there, and sidewalks that suddenly disappear, etc. I feel that with all those obstacles to go around, a car might not realize I have to swerve around them and come from behind and hit me. Note, I always go back to the "correct" side of the rode before making a turn. I'm just talking about the straightaways (or in most cases not so straightaways...)

-6 ( +2 / -7 )

Mandatory wearing vike helmet. The helmet the professional basebqll players wear when they go on batters box. Not as strong as catchers but helmet is better than umbrella. But maybe tricycle is safer than bike?

-3 ( +0 / -3 )

When I encounter idiots riding on the wrong side of the road I force them to pass on my right and shout at them. If you are on the road, keep to the left. Always.

I see an increasing number of those power-assisted bicycles these days. I think they should be banned from the pavement as they are heavy and can get up quite a speed. A collision with one of those would leave a pedestrian in a sorry state.

I also think there should be a fine for pedestrians walking in the road when there is a pavement and walking in cycle lanes. There are lots of cycle lanes around here, but they are usually occupied by meandering morons gawping at their cell phones.

7 ( +8 / -1 )

I hate vike helmets. They make my vead hurt.

How do they propose to enforce this when they can't stop 90% of car drivers doing the same thing?

I'm sure they can find funds to harass cyclists. That being said, there are some nuts on wheels out there...

1 ( +2 / -1 )

Some weeks back I was going up a steep hill one night, when all of a sudden some moron, riding on the wrong side of the street, without his light on, using a mobile device, was coming straight down the hill at me. (Fortunately because I at least noticed before it was too late a nasty accident was averted.)

These new rules might have pinged him for not paying attention (if he'd been caught), but I'd much rather see rules against riding on the wrong side of the road and without lights on at night, than I would worry about bikes running red lights. I mean let's face it, when there are no cars or pedestrians in sight, what is dangerous about running a red on a bicycle? Are they going to ping pedestrians for ignoring red lights when there is no traffic, too?

—Violating regulations when at circular cross-walks

Not even sure what a circular cross-walk is, to be honest.

I prefer to ride on the opposite side if it seems safer.

Unacceptable. What happens if a person on a bicycle is quickly comes in the opposite direction? It is always safest to stay on your side of the street, and if you think it seems otherwise, you may be unfit to ride a bicycle.

0 ( +1 / -1 )

Great having these laws I never understood why bicycles were allowed to be such an obvious danger.

Sadly, like many laws in Japan, these laws are rarely going to actually be policed.

-3 ( +0 / -3 )

Unacceptable. What happens if a person on a bicycle is quickly comes in the opposite direction? It is always safest to stay on your side of the street, and if you think it seems otherwise, you may be unfit to ride a bicycle.

Depends on the road, really. When I'm riding a bike on streets with tighter fit, I prefer to be on the opposite side so I can actually see the oncoming traffic, and adjust accordingly in case there are parked cars or idiots.

On a busier multi-lane street, it just makes more sense to keep to the left side as there are generally less obstructions and cars have more space to go around.

However, what really pisses me off are the "professional" cyclists while I'm driving a car. Yeah, they are usually on the left side of the road, but pay no attention whatsoever to the motor traffic. There's a car parked on the side of the road? No problem, lets just swerve on the car lane without looking. I'm sure the driver's don't mind.

I get instant road rage whenever I see a hunched up spandex troll on a public road.

-7 ( +2 / -9 )

New rules include riding without Lights, wrong side of road and way more, actually most of the points raised above been illegal for years but no penalties existed.

From Interviews it looks like locals are all in favour of it. I am too. Like I said the article above don't cover as much as other news outlets.

Agree on the sports cyclists who think they own the road.

Started today do way too early to say if it will work or not. But agree there need to be more awareness and training for riders.

0 ( +2 / -2 )

If they actually made and enforced those laws here in Osaka, the police force would make billions of yen.

4 ( +4 / -0 )

I commute by bicycle every day and I think it would be a good idea for police to crack down on some of these things. I constantly see people staring at their smart phones while riding, which is a particular pet peeve of mine, but cyclists blisfully ignoring red lights even at major intersections is also common.

While cars don`t run red lights like that, drivers can be just as bad. I constantly see drivers not paying attention as they fiddle with their cell phones too, its just not as easy to see since they are in an enclosed space while cyclists are completely open.

There's a car parked on the side of the road? No problem, lets just swerve on the car lane without looking.

So in other words, car drivers are blocking the cyclists lane by parking on it and yet you view this as a problem caused by the cyclist?

Dont get me wrong, obviously cyclists should do a shoulder check before switching lanes and if they dont that is quite dangerous, but fundamentally that problem is caused by the habit of drivers in this country to illegally park their cars wherever they feel like. In my city they just spent a ton of money creating a bicycle lane on a major street near my place. But since they didn`t put any physical barriers to seperate it from the roadway, within about 2 seconds of the construction crews leaving it had been turned into a de facto parking lot, leaving cyclists no option but to ride in the car lane.

3 ( +3 / -0 )

Not paying attention to other pedestrians and or cyclists due to using mobile devices

Finally! Now let's see it enforced

0 ( +1 / -1 )

However, what really pisses me off are the "professional" cyclists while I'm driving a car. Yeah, they are usually on the left side of the road, but pay no attention whatsoever to the motor traffic. There's a car parked on the side of the road? No problem, lets just swerve on the car lane without looking. I'm sure the driver's don't mind.

I'm curious, what do you propose as an alternative here? And what exactly about this makes you angry?

4 ( +4 / -0 )

Great. I can still overtake those slow police car that travel at 40 kpm doing a mono.

0 ( +1 / -1 )

Now where can I find this article in Japanese so I can stack copies (a few hundred should do) in my car and pass it on to nonabiding cyclists? Sorry dear riders, but it's just getting crazy here in front of AEON every morning. Bicycles coming in from all directions when I'm heading out the driveway. That's exactly why I installed a dashboard camera a year ago because I just know, someday it'll be of good use :)

0 ( +2 / -2 )

2 days ago , I witness a two ridding bicycle in the middle of Ebisu,wearing headphone, they crashed with each other, the girl fell down and hit her head on the asphalt making her unconscious , falling flat , the car next to her almost crush her hand , the guy hit a parked car, he quickly took off the headphones as everyone watched the girl in the middle of the street . very crazy and dangerous!

1 ( +1 / -0 )

The importance of the course is as a make-work scheme for retired police officers rather than educating the numerous oblivious bicycle owners.

The strategy is to kill with bureaucracy. No-one want to lose hours of their life to these re-education schemes.

There's a car parked on the side of the road? No problem, lets just swerve on the car lane without looking.

Interesting you'd call it a car lane.

1 ( +2 / -1 )

Pedestrians get upset when cyclists use the pavement. Drivers get upset when cyclists use the road. As an avid cyclist, I can honestly say that in Japan we are universally despised. Generally, pavements are too congested to ride on, and on the roads, even though I have front and rear lights, and wear high-vis gear at night, I've had dump trucks deliberately sound the horn (to surprise me) and then pull up alongside me to squeese me off the road. Car drivers also shout abuse when they think I'm holding them up.

Even driving a car is no repite. Japanese almost universally drive on the brakes, so if I don't accellerate fast enough or decellerate instead of slamming on the brakes just in front of the lights they are hooting and flashing me.

I can but hope that the rules of the road will be consistently enforced all across the board, but I won't hold my breath.

3 ( +5 / -2 )

It's all a waste of time and effort. The government went to the trouble to create the law which requires cyclists to use the streets and keep off the sidewalks, this law went into effect exactly 7 years ago. But this being Japan, the new law was not enforced, and remains unenforced. Japan is one of the few places where written laws are not enforced, and where unwritten laws are rigidly enforced. Remember the scandal a couple of years ago when Mizuho bank got into trouble for lending money to gangsters? There is no law prohibiting making loans to gangsters, and these gangsters underwent and passed the same background checks that any other borrower has to undergo. Yet Mizuho had to publicly apologise, and their president had to resign.

One would think that Japan is a country where law and order are well organised and enforced. Japan certainly has order, but the selective application and enforcement of laws is rather contrary to the intent of having laws.

On my commute today I witnessed no less than 4 vehicles running red lights. If the police can't keep car drivers under control, they aren't going to have much luck catching cyclists.

0 ( +2 / -2 )

Not stopping at stop signs

Are you kidding me? When the cars come to a full stop, I might do the same. I walk a lot and I am amazed at how many people drive straight through stop signs. I deliberately jump in front of them to force them to stop. Then walk real slow.

2 ( +4 / -2 )

sigh I wish they would have a similar law in my country. Too many cyclists seem to think that they can get away with not following what laws we do have because they are not motorised (jumping the lights, riding while intoxicated, ignoring road markings, intimidating pedestrians and so forth) yet they yell loud enough when they get mown down in traffic.

1 ( +2 / -1 )

I am amaze it should be 0 alcohol tolerance .The same as a motorist. The rest of the new laws are just to cover their Councils behinds. Like Police are going to chase a bike so they can issue a fine.

-2 ( +0 / -2 )

I am amaze it should be 0 alcohol tolerance .The same as a motorist.

It's not zero tolerance for motorists. If I recall correctly, it's 0.05.

2 ( +2 / -0 )

Unacceptable. What happens if a person on a bicycle is quickly comes in the opposite direction? It is always safest to stay on your side of the street, and if you think it seems otherwise, you may be unfit to ride a bicycle.

The point is you can see what is ahead of you, whether it is a bike or a car. I've never had a problem with another bicycle, probably because I already prepare for the worst. People driving cars, on the other hand, come quickly out of nowhere and make too many assumptions.

1 ( +1 / -0 )

" ifd66JUN. 01, 2015 - 09:29AM JST Better to focus on making cities truely cycle friendly and making serious efforts to reduce dirty, noisy, dangerous motorised - good cycle lanes, traffic free zones, park & ride. And stop destroying and replacing beautiful old buildingswith car parks."

Second this

1 ( +2 / -1 )

When I'm riding on the right (er.. left) side of the road, and someone is coming at me, I play chicken with them. I'm not going to veer out into traffic, they are the ones who are in the wrong.

4 ( +4 / -0 )

Strangerland 0.05 No wrong. Actually it is 0.03%. Additionally, regardless of alcohol readings, police may also determine the driver to be "driving drunk," which is punished more severely than exceeding the designated alcohol limits. That why I quoted zero alcohol tolerance. Just to cover your behind

0 ( +0 / -0 )

Also high schoolers and JHS kids riding three abreast !

2 ( +2 / -0 )

NO. But I did look it up because I assumed also, but was not wrong. Plus I am a concern citizen about people driving or riding a bike around over the a 0.03 thinking that they be OK if they consumed 2 x 250ml of 5% alcohol beverage and 1 per hour after . Big different to 1 x 250ml 5% alcohol beverageper Hour.

0 ( +0 / -0 )

I use a bike every day. I often have to swerve out of the way when an idiot is coming at me full pelt on the wrong side of the road, or by jumping the lights, or looking at their phone, or listening to music, or having a parasol that gets in their way and pokes out the eyes of other cyclists and pedestrians, or are cycling next to their mate so they can have a chat, or have a mate sitting on the back, or don't use a light at night, or (and this happens often) cycling so slooooow I'm surprised they don't fall off........

I could go on. I now shout at people who behave like twats when on a bike. It used be just drivers I shouted at, but times have changed, unfortunately. I think the rules are two soft - one violation means going on that course, two means your bike gets taken away and crushed.

1 ( +2 / -1 )

Walked around my area and the cops were handing tickets out like anything and that includes motorbike cops who can chase them down.

Also told a few riders that they are in the wrong spot only had one guy mouthing back at me.

Noticed a lot more riders following the rules now, good thing IMHO.

0 ( +1 / -1 )

How about they do something about all the illegal bicycle parking? At my station, they only come and pick up the bikes about once every few months.

-1 ( +1 / -2 )

That is up to the muncipality, many here in western Tokyo took actions a few years back. Now you see hardly any illegal parked bicycle outside the stations vs them taking up 90% of the pavement.

Great improvement..

-3 ( +0 / -3 )

That is up to the muncipality, many here in western Tokyo took actions a few years back. Now you see hardly any illegal parked bicycle outside the stations vs them taking up 90% of the pavement.

Great improvement..

Not for the planet it isn't. They should be providing as much free bike parking as they possibly can.

3 ( +4 / -1 )

The areas around our stations are pretty build up so limited space but around kichijoji they slowly are shutting down the "pink" businesses as the buildings get old and convert them to bicycle parking.

Also raising the Chuo line has opened up much space for bicycle parking and small businesses.

Add in a big increase in dedicated bicycle lanes in Musashino, Mitaka, etc which have guard rails between cars and pedestrians = heaven.

0 ( +0 / -0 )

The only real reason for these laws is to legally steal moneycfrom riders. Oh, sure, the police can say it is for safety, but when laws are selectively enforced only when the coffers are nearing empty or when the Keystone Kops feel they need to provide a reason for their existence we all pay the price.

Big Brother continues to live in Japan.

0 ( +2 / -2 )

But ........... do Japanese policemen really control or they're just hiding as usual?

0 ( +0 / -0 )

But ........... do Japanese policemen really control or they're just hiding as usual?

They will probably be in groups as usual. 100 ojisan policemen in one area, leaving everywhere else unguarded.

1 ( +1 / -0 )

When I'm riding on the right (er.. left) side of the road, and someone is coming at me, I play chicken with them. I'm not going to veer out into traffic, they are the ones who are in the wrong.

I do that too. It works like a charm

-1 ( +0 / -1 )

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