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Police urge cyclists to wear helmets ahead of mandate on April 1

99 Comments

The Tokyo Metropolitan Police Department has begun urging cyclists to wear helmets before a helmet-wearing mandate goes into effect nationwide on April 1.

Officers at Tsukishima Police Station in Tokyo’s Chuo Ward were seen wearing bicycle helmets on Wednesday.

According to police, there were over 13,000 accidents involving cyclists in Tokyo last year, making up about 46% of traffic accidents in the metropolis, Kyodo News reported. This was an increase of over 1,000 cases from 2021.

Moreover, 30 cyclists were killed. None of them were wearing a helmet, police said. Additionally, 70% of fatal bicycle accidents over the last five years were caused by traumatic head injuries.

The helmet-wearing regulation, part of the Road Traffic Act, is an effort to raise awareness that the fatality rate is 2.3 times higher when protective headgear is not worn. However, there will be no fines or any other punishment for anyone not wearing a helmet.

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99 Comments
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Let's see how many people put a helmet on their heads when riding a bike?

10 ( +17 / -7 )

They should be encouraging people to use bicycles not restricting them. Why not "mandate" them for pedestrians too?

-19 ( +18 / -37 )

I noticed the boys in blue sporting cycling head gear this week in and around Tokyo (where I live) whilst out and about with my partner. Not at all immature and regressive I say. Very safe and stylish that will encourage an outdoors lifestyle.

2 ( +13 / -11 )

Why not "mandate" them for pedestrians too?

Exactly. Especially now with the electric scooters, it is no longer safe to walk on the walkway.

They should be encouraging people to use bicycles not restricting them.

Build dedicated bicycle lanes. Or even better, convert the roads to bicycle lanes.

3 ( +20 / -17 )

What are those weird plastic tubes on the front of their bikes? Urine collectors?

-3 ( +10 / -13 )

However, there will be no fines or any other punishment for anyone not wearing a helmet.

Ah. Therein lies the rub.

21 ( +27 / -6 )

Kane Davidson

Today 04:58 pm JST

What are those weird plastic tubes on the front of their bikes? Urine collectors?

Are you new to Japan?

They are for the long poles used in the event of a riot of disturbance.

Been in the bikes for decades.

-15 ( +12 / -27 )

Even without fines, I suspect police will still have the right to stop anyone without a helmet to remind them of the law. That will likely include an ID check for foreigners.

6 ( +30 / -24 )

No fines or any other punishment for not wearing one? Pointless 'law'.

15 ( +22 / -7 )

While the helmet campaign is in full swing all of the almost universal transgressions like riding on the wrong side of the road, using an umbrella, listening to music, using a phone, not stopping at intersections will be ignored even more than usual.

26 ( +32 / -6 )

Good point, M3. Ideally they would have a law against breathing so that police would have some reason to stop people and check them out or even arrest them.

-17 ( +6 / -23 )

Better include the skateboarders and rollerbladesr too you list

-4 ( +7 / -11 )

I imagine the old lady I nearly hit today on my way home from the hospital will quickly comply, she without looking, stopping, and without a care in the world just drove across a 4 lane 2 way traffic road.

But I am sure next time she will do it wearing a helmet.(sarcasm)

3 ( +14 / -11 )

Last time I renewed my driver's licence, they had introduced mandatory helmets for those under 11 years of age.

Now look out your windows and see how many are actually wearing helmets.

3 ( +12 / -9 )

Well, I will just stick to what I have learned at school in the physics and biology lessons. Everything with only two points on the ground is somehow unstable and resulting force vectors onto head or body at higher speeds are all potentially deadly, regardless if you’re moving or only the incoming object or both. The rest of course is normal risk and luck anyway. Btw cycling isn’t climate neutral either, because you of course still need the same basic amount of energy to move yourself together with your heavy vehicle when moving from A to B. Instead of filling gasoline into your car you have then to refill more energy into yourself when you are the cyclist with muscle activity as the energy source. A bicycle has less weight than a car, that’s of course right and the positive point under energy consumption considerations. Merits and demerits, like anywhere else too.

-14 ( +3 / -17 )

The new law is nation-wide as far as I can tell. Until now helmets were required for 13 years of age and below. As of April 1st this now applies to all bicyclists. However, wearing a helmet is not Mandatory 義務。It is expressed as Doryoku Gimu 努力義務 meaning "make an effort to wear a helmet". So there will be no tickets/fines for not wearing a helmet, probably just a warning. Honestly, what a stupid law. Either make helmets manatory or non-mandatory. Not some in-between meaningless law.

12 ( +18 / -6 )

July and August are hot. Helmets?

-1 ( +7 / -8 )

Rules, rules and more rules.

1 ( +12 / -11 )

I am all for safety, but this is pushing it. In ruler areas there should be NO NEED to wear the helmet, common sense tell us to wear them in heavy traffic areas.

We will have more accidents caused from wearing helmets, just watch and see.

-2 ( +8 / -10 )

cycling isn’t climate neutral either, because you of course still need the same basic amount of energy to move yourself together with your heavy vehicle when moving from A to B. Instead of filling gasoline into your car you have then to refill more energy into yourself when you are the cyclist with muscle activity as the energy source

I take your point, but I doubt many cyclists are going to be getting their cycling energy from a petrol smoothie or a coal butty.

And I doubt moving a 10kg bicycle is going to take as much energy as moving a 1,000+kg car, at much greater speed.

As for the mandatory helmet....has anyone managed to design one that doesn't destroy a hairdo?

13 ( +17 / -4 )

I don't wear one when riding my Mountain E-bike. I only ride tracks and if I did wear one it will only rev me up with confidence and bravo. But if you're using the blacktop, lid your lid. I myself will not use any part of the blacktop. I was once riding will outside the white line a good meter. I could hear a car come from behind I am doing an easy pace ( 20 clicks ) on my Giant commuter 29er hard tail. The approaching went pass me by 10 cm doing 100 clicks over the white line in the spoil ( the build up of loose gravel that accumulates on edges of the black top. The only reason is, he was a bike hating nut. Well it scared me, so I have not ridden the blacktop since.

-6 ( +3 / -9 )

According to police, there were over 13,000 accidents involving cyclists in Tokyo last year, making up about 46% of traffic accidents in the metropolis

This directive will not reduce that shocking percentage one iota. It may even nudge it up. Reducing fatalities is a noble cause of course but simply enforcing the existing laws that affect cyclists would have a far greater effect.

3 ( +8 / -5 )

Btw cycling isn’t climate neutral either, because you of course still need the same basic amount of energy to move yourself together with your heavy vehicle when moving from A to B. Instead of filling gasoline into your car you have then to refill more energy into yourself when you are the cyclist with muscle activity as the energy source.

This is so trivial as to be meaningless though.

On some days I cycle 20km. On other days I don’t cycle at all. I don’t eat more on the days I cycle than the ones I don’t.

8 ( +9 / -1 )

Just like the law pertaining to one-way streets which are totally ignored by cyclists

-5 ( +3 / -8 )

I could hear a car come from behind 

More and more electric and hybrid cars are on the road now. Silent. They’re on you before you know it. Require some kind of noise-maker.

3 ( +5 / -2 )

Helmets for cyclists make sense... of course you'll get the numpties who think that it's somehow infringing their rights. Just a pity this new law has no teeth.

-4 ( +6 / -10 )

Maybe police the cars running cyclists over a bit more stringently….If people want to wear helmets good on them if not good on them, should always be a personal choice!

3 ( +7 / -4 )

@kurisupiu

There is no law regarding bicycles on one-way streets.

3 ( +6 / -3 )

However, there will be no fines or any other punishment for anyone not wearing a helmet.

oh was wondering why I hadnt heard anything about this.

So its not "really" a thing.

-4 ( +1 / -5 )

I am glad the helmets are not mandatory at this time. Given 8M bicycles in Tokyo, the statistics in this article actually shows that wearing helmets is unnecessary unless your riding style is really crazy.

3 ( +6 / -3 )

there will be no fines or any other punishment for anyone not wearing a helmet

So, it’s not a law. It’s not even a mandate. Without penalties it’s nothing more than a suggestion.

They did the same thing in the late 2000’s and stated that kids between 3 and 13 must wear helmets, but if there are no penalties people are not going to do it. I’ve seen a few families with kids wearing helmets but the parents never do. From the statistics mentioned above it’s likely half of those killed on bicycles would have survived if they were wearing a helmet.

2 ( +3 / -1 )

I have been a biker for 55 years and a helmet had saved my nutcase from being bashed in on three occasions. i could have died at age 24. I highly recommend it for all bikers, anywhere, anytime, ESPECIALLY in the rural areas, where you tend to speed up and where if you have an accident and become unconscious people may not even notice you for hours. Bike helmets are very lightweight, has enough vents all over them to make sure that it is not hot to wear even in high summer. Also, buy one with as much coverage of the head, cheekbones and backside as possible. In fact, i often wear one for skateboarders. On long trips, where exhaustion sets in often, one may be esp prone to falling over if you are not alert and the bike hits a snag or the wheel gets tracked into a streetcar rail groove. Those who bemoan the new rules for bikes shouldn't drive a car -- hundreds more rules govern cars.

8 ( +11 / -3 )

I think by law they should make kids wear a helmet the amount of kids under the age of 5 not wearing a helmet while the parents cycles is crazy

5 ( +7 / -2 )

It's currently hard to find Foreigner friendly Helmets in Tokyo, let alone out in the sticks.

-3 ( +2 / -5 )

Police officer to non-helmet wearing cyclist- "please wear your helmet."

Cyclist to police officer- "can't be bothered."

Police officer to cyclist- "ok, no problem."

The law is there to protect cyclists. Just common sense. Or maybe being a vegetable lying comatose in a hospital bed is preferable.

5 ( +7 / -2 )

Ride my bike ONCE week, combination of shopping and tennis lesson

Saves me nearly an hour vs. walking (same as driving) plus good tennis warm up without too much exercise and far easier to carry groceries!

Above's GREAT ROI but how to best manage risk of accidents?!

1) No busy streets 2) No racing/risky behavior 3) Space/awareness

Like anything in life, manage all risks while maximizing ROI

PS. Most not following above commonsense strategy are NOT parents

0 ( +2 / -2 )

Why not "mandate" them for pedestrians too?

They'll want them too. They are already wearing masks.

has anyone managed to design one that doesn't destroy a hairdo?

Yes. That's some airbag that only messes your chignon in case of shock.

HÖVDING

-5 ( +0 / -5 )

You have to wonder how much the helmet makers are contributing to LDP funds.......

-3 ( +5 / -8 )

That will likely include an ID check for foreigners.

How did I manage to never be ID checked in 27 years?

2 ( +7 / -5 )

However, there will be no fines or any other punishment for anyone not wearing a helmet.

Oh okay, so just like Japanese won't stop wearing masks after some arbitrary date, none will suddenly start wearing helmets from April 1st.

-2 ( +4 / -6 )

Not everyone who lives in Japan lives in Tokyo.

> Where I live (in Japan but nowhere near Tokyo) the police don't ride bikes. They ride around in patrol cars.

> So even someone who's been in Japan over 20 years (like me) may not know about the police's bike tubes.

Never seen a Japanese TV show, commercial, etc... In 20 years?

-3 ( +3 / -6 )

John

Today 08:19 pm JST

I think by law they should make kids wear a helmet the amount of kids under the age of 5 not wearing a helmet while the parents cycles is crazy

There has been a law for nearly 5 years those under 11 years old need helmet, but no one bothers

-2 ( +3 / -5 )

If you fall off a bike, a helmet may save your life. Conversely, every study into it has suggested that if you wear a helmet and especially if you wear cycling gear like lycra and ride a road bike, cars will give you less passing distance and are more likely to hit you or run you off the road. When riding on the road, it's safest to ride a shopping bike and look like an old lady. Helmet laws make it harder to ride a bike and mean fewer people do it, with negative health effects for society. So, like many, it's a complex issue and many things need to be considered.

2 ( +6 / -4 )

You just wait, soon there will be a mandate for people to wear helmets while driving a car as well. I feel that's next on the Japan big brother radar.

-7 ( +7 / -14 )

The unintended result of helmet mandates in North America is that there has been a sharp reduction in bicycle use among children which has contributed to the epidemic of obesity.

Cycling is not an inherently dangerous activity.

In the Netherlands, famous for the number of people who commute everywhere by bicycle, there is no helmet mandate because,as mentioned above pedestrians are not required to wear helmets and a lt of people actually suffer head injuries from falls or being hit by a car while walking, helmets are ineffective as they obstruct vision which leads to more cyclists getting hit by trucks (bicycle helmets are no help if you get hit by a truck) and the realization that more rules results in less bicycle use and more car use.

7 ( +9 / -2 )

every study into it has suggested that if you wear a helmet and especially if you wear cycling gear like lycra and ride a road bike, cars will give you less passing distance and are more likely to hit you or run you off the road.

Are any of these studies for Japan? I'd be skeptical of studies on other countries in this regards being applicable to Japan - different roads, different cycling styles, different road rules, different people.

3 ( +6 / -3 )

The unintended result of helmet mandates in North America is that there has been a sharp reduction in bicycle use among children which has contributed to the epidemic of obesity.

Or is it because of video games, and highly sugared foods?

Kids just aren't getting out as much. I wouldn't blame that on bike helmets.

0 ( +4 / -4 )

@Strangerland

Contribute verb : help to cause or bring about

i.e. not the only cause; a contributing factor

Cyclists were counted in Edmonton (a city in Alberta), in 2000 (pre-law) and 2004 (post-law). The percentage of cyclists under 18 fell from 26% in the pre-law survey, to 15% post-law (Hagel et al, 2006), suggesting that the law discouraged substantial numbers of youngsters from cycling. Compared to adults who were not required to wear helmets, children’s cycling (

4 ( +5 / -1 )

A helmet can save your life. Just wear it.

1 ( +10 / -9 )

If you expect only cyclists to wear helmets, not pedestrians or car drivers, that's hardly fair. And let's face it, who is causing all the deaths and injuries? The car drivers.

But also you have pedestrians crossing the streets whichever way they want, often without warning, old people ride their bikes in the middle of the road. a lot of the injuries could be avoided if a lot of these people would stay off the road or pay attention and put their iPhones down for a moment, car drivers have a responsibility as well, don't get me wrong but we shouldn't just put all the blame on the drivers, that would be an irresponsible thing to do.

-1 ( +5 / -6 )

There’s always a financial reason underlying rules like these. Seatbelt laws came about because the injuries from not wearing seatbelts are more traumatic, resulting in high medical costs that insurance companies resisted paying, or people not having insurance so the taxpayer had to pay for the bills, including more extended care costs.

I trust it’s the same for helmets. Traumatic brain injuries many times result in long-term care needed.

Plus, people can’t get back on the treadmill of work and back to paying taxes as quickly.

It’s always the money.

3 ( +4 / -1 )

I have never worn a helmet since I rode my first bike in 1938. Had I worn one, I would not be commenting here today. I have always been careful

in choosing a bike with saddle the length of my leg so that I can walk while I am seated on the saddle. Falling from a greater height will be more serious. Cyclists cycling with a helmet, think they are safe and they cycle fast! A helmet does not protect the face! And I am always careful my bike has strong tires with full air in them, the brakes are in good order

and I have lights when riding at night. That is why I am still enjoying riding my bike 365 days in a Province that is one of the coldest and snowiest and, last month I received a letter wishing me a happy 93rd birthday from the Governor General of Canada.

3 ( +9 / -6 )

At least they found a great date for it :D

And the plot, ... who's lined up for collecting the kickbacks from the helmet vendors?

-1 ( +2 / -3 )

Don't think this will stop all those mamacharis speeding past you with kids on the back. They're the absolute worst.

5 ( +6 / -1 )

Excellent...

Use the brain and wear it..

-3 ( +2 / -5 )

cleo Mar. 23  06:20 pm JST

As for the mandatory helmet....has anyone managed to design one that doesn't destroy a hairdo?

made me laugh Cleo.... thanx. was just saying to someone yesterday how great it is to not have to don a mask in shops and etc, really messes up the lipstick. LOL

-2 ( +1 / -3 )

Wear a helmet while cycling? No! I am not suicidal!!

-4 ( +3 / -7 )

Everyone should have the freedom to crack their head open and spill their brains on the curb. Kind of like the places with no helmet laws for motorcycles. They’re teaching moments for family and friends.

-4 ( +2 / -6 )

Good luck with making cyclists obey another rule seeing how most don't obey any of the rules in place

-2 ( +3 / -5 )

bass4funk,

But also you have pedestrians crossing the streets whichever way they want, often without warning, old people ride their bikes in the middle of the road. a lot of the injuries could be avoided if a lot of these people would stay off the road or pay attention and put their iPhones down for a moment, car drivers have a responsibility as well, don't get me wrong but we shouldn't just put all the blame on the drivers, that would be an irresponsible thing to do.

Agreed, I believe that if a car hits a cyclist or pedestrian here it's always 100% the driver's fault (correct me if this is not the case). It seems unjustifiable to allow other road users to completely ignore any responsibility, and we've all seen oblivious cyclists etc. riding dangerously and without care. Mandating helmets seems like a common sense idea though.

-1 ( +3 / -4 )

One thing I used to love about Japan (pre 90s) was that there very few laws that made you do anything. I don't want to and won't wear a helmet riding my mamachari out here in the countryside. Anywhere else for that matter.

2 ( +5 / -3 )

What the hell? Already wasn't a fan of Tokyo, but this is insane.

I'd love to see them try to pull this nonsense in Osaka.

-1 ( +3 / -4 )

Keep in mind it's not always 'apples to apples' with past:

1) People older on average 2) Many new riders due to pandemic/train avoidance 3) Bikes older and less roadworthy on average like cars etc. 4) Fewer people having children/more selfish/greater risk taking 5) Smartphones etc. 6) Population density in major metro areas increasing, opposite in rural areas 7) Fewer young people driving cars etc.

Plenty of logical reasons, NOT surprised bike accidents and injuries/deaths increasing....."Stay Alert, Stay Alive" seems appropriate, but as population declining fast, riding bikes will be safer all else being equal!

0 ( +1 / -1 )

The unintended result of helmet mandates in North America is that there has been a sharp reduction in bicycle use among children which has contributed to the epidemic of obesity.

This, wearing a bicycle helmet can look dorky so people just choose not to ride.

0 ( +1 / -1 )

In this heat? Forget it.

And since when do police patrol on bicycles?

When do police patrol at all?

I've only seen them harass bicyclists.

4 ( +4 / -0 )

soon there will be a mandate for people to wear helmets while driving

Bass4funk might be prescient here. They make highway patrol officers wear lids in their cars after all.

0 ( +0 / -0 )

I have been a biker for 55 years and a helmet had saved my nutcase from being bashed in on three occasions. i could have died at age 24

it statistically proven in many countries that helmets like seatbelts save lives, helmets have been mandatory for about 30 yrs in my country, and lives have been saved because of it. you may be the safest rider in the world, it doesn't stop that drunk crashing into you with his car. major head injury is the leading cause of bike deaths, helmets reduce that injury dramatically compared to no helmets

0 ( +4 / -4 )

@Awa no GaijinToday 11:20 am JST

He may not be so far from the truth.

歩行者と車が衝突する事故では、あらゆるケースで車側が加害者として扱われ、その過失責任が重くなっています。ほとんどのケースで70%以上の責任を車側が負うことになります。

In collisions between pedestrians and cars, in all cases the car is deemed the Harmer and with a heavier culpability for negligence. In almost all cases, the car will bear 70% or more of the culpability (Ed: anything over 50% means money is flowing in the direction of Pedestrian).

1 ( +1 / -0 )

I have never worn a helmet since I rode my first bike in 1938. Had I worn one, I would not be commenting here today. I have always been careful

While there are individual stories where NOT doing X, where X is statistically proven to be safer, resulted in a better outcome, intelligent people will look at properly gathered statistics and come to the correct idea that "doing X" - wearing a helmet - is safer.

I've only been hit by a car once while walking, but that doesn't mean it is safe to cross the street without looking first. See the point?

0 ( +1 / -1 )

Serious question please.

What are the plastic cylinders on the front of the bikes? Someone said to hold the big riot sticks, is that correct?

Thanks.

1 ( +1 / -0 )

cyclists will shrink because helmets are not sexy. Lucky to the Helmet manufacturers.
1 ( +1 / -0 )

What next? Mandatory rear lights?

How much difference does a law make anyway? I believe it is against the law to ride a bicycle on the pavement, by which I mean what Americans call a sidewalk, and a lot of accidents are caused by people riding bicycles on the pavement. I am sure you have seen even policeman doing so.

It is one thing to make a law, another to enforce it.

3 ( +3 / -0 )

we_are_oneToday 06:32 am JST

For their batons.

Thank you, and as there are two cylinders it's for traffic directing use.

Makes sense now, something I rarely see in England.

Cheers.

0 ( +0 / -0 )

What are the odds that, just as when the "mandate" came in a few years ago against using earphones while cycling (a mandate, by the way with which I wholeheartedly agree), the first few weeks will herald a massive uptick in policemen wanting to feel lie big tough guys stopping and cautioning teenage girls?

2 ( +2 / -0 )

I was walking home a few years and saw a bicycle on its side on the road. Shortly after that I noticed that the cyclist was stuck in the hedge nearby, which he had entered head-first and was stuck, but obviously too inebriated to understand his predicament.

-1 ( +0 / -1 )

If they argue that "It's for their own safety, health and protection", it's kinda odd, since last month they eased the mask usage.

Which wasn't being reinforced anyways. So I don't think the helmet is going to be enforced and as it is, is just another silly law to make people believe they actually care about something.

Because when we check the numbers, about 13000 accidents versus some hundreds of thousands of infected. Sure, let's wear helmets and discard masks.

1 ( +2 / -1 )

If as a result of the law some people are not riding bikes, then it is good as their choice may also save their lives. It should not be a law; it should be a commonsensical habit. Just like you wear shoes to protect your feet against snags, or gloves to keep your fingers from freezing.

2 ( +2 / -0 )

So, under that logic, why stop at mandating helmets? Let's mandate suits of armor for bicyclists too -- to help prevent not only fatal head injuries, but fatal abdominal trauma as well.

The slippery slope fallacy. By your logic, you would remove any requirements to wear seat belts etc.

The major cause of death and serious injury for cyclists is head injuries, and helmets save lives.

-2 ( +0 / -2 )

If you have a $10 head, wear a $10 helmet. If you are an idiot, then wearing no helmet would be an excellent way to assist you in stepping out of the gene pool. Please proceed.

-2 ( +0 / -2 )

if everyone in Tokyo complies then the helmet companies will be raking in tons of revenue without the need for marketing. I wonder if the police force is chipping the coin for each hemet that gets purchased?

1 ( +1 / -0 )

If you have a $10 head, wear a $10 helmet

I have a ballistic proof US military combat helmet I guess I’ll wear that instead of the cheap 10$ helmet

1 ( +1 / -0 )

Can't wait to wheel around with my Devo hat on my head.

Ridiculous law. Wearing a helmet is a good idea. Mandating helmet use is not.

1 ( +1 / -0 )

enforced bicycle helmet laws has only resulted in less people choosing to use bicycles in the countries which do has such laws. Of course it's more safe to use a helmet, same goes for pedestrians or people riding cars. Bicycles are for convenience and ease of use, having a helmet messing up your hair and taking up extra space totally messes up that aspect. I rather see the police enforce actual laws, people riding on the wrong side of the road or ignoring red lights seems like a 50/50 for the average rider.

0 ( +0 / -0 )

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