The National Police Agency is planning to toughen rules for sidewalk cyclists in order to cut back on the number of accidents involving bicycles colliding with pedestrians.
According to police, the consistently high rate of collisions in recent years has caused them to consider restricting the areas where cyclists can ride their bicycles. Police said that 2,760 collisions with pedestrians were reported last year, the eighth consecutive year that the number of incidents has exceeded 2,000, TBS reported. Five of those incidents resulted in death.
Police said that although a legal guideline exists stating that bicycles may be used on any path of at least two meters in width, it is in fact the responsibility of the National Public Safety Commission to permit or deny cycling in each location. Under proposed new rules, cyclists will not be allowed to ride on sidewalks less than three meters in width, TBS reported.
Along with the proposed restrictions, police are also hoping to introduce safe riding education schemes, to crack down on drunk cycling and to eventually introduce more dedicated cycling lanes on busy streets.
The NPA said that police officers will issue warnings to cyclists seen riding on sidewalks or riding in a reckless manner, such as using cell phones or iPods while on their bikes, TBS reported.
With the exception of children (under 13) and elderly people (over 70), cyclists will be encouraged to ride on roads rather than sidewalks, the NPA said. In so doing, cyclists need to understand that they have to observe traffic regulations the same as drivers, an NPA spokesman was quoted as saying by TBS.© Japan Today