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Road traffic laws in Europe and the United States are simple, whereas in Japan pedestrians are always exposed to the risks of bicycles bumping into them from all directions...It is time for us to go b

33 Comments

Shigeki Kobayashi, president of the Bicycle Usage Promotion Study Group, calling for a revision to the Road Traffic Act. (Mainichi Shimbun)

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Maybe it's because most roads in U.S and Europe are more than a meter wide?

7 ( +9 / -2 )

Didn't I read in Japantoday not so long ago that the police were going actually to enforce the law and make cyclists use the road?

6 ( +6 / -0 )

I thought the law had a laready been changed. If it has, start enforcing. If not, change it now! Cyclists on the pavement are a menace.

1 ( +3 / -2 )

We need cycling paths on all streets. This will be a nightmare on older, narrower roads.

1 ( +1 / -0 )

amen...

1 ( +1 / -0 )

With the narrowness of the roads and the lack of awareness of others, the road is a dangerous place to ride your bike. No thanks, I'll stay on the sidewalks.

0 ( +5 / -5 )

They could create dedicated cycle paths like in Holland, a densely packed country like Japan. Or they could just keep talking and talking and talking about improvements with nothing actually being done.

cycling paths on all streets...will be a nightmare on older, narrower roads.

A nightmare for cars, but who cares? In Europe, the narrow medieval lanes in cities are commonly off-limits to cars. Most people seem to like it.

7 ( +7 / -0 )

Yes, roads are dangerous for cyclists, but the pavements are for pedestrians and so cyclists on pavements are dangerous too. Dangerous roads don't seem to deter pedestrians from walking on them in preference to pavement - many smalll streetsi tokyo are a hazard as people walk in them oblivious to traffic.

2 ( +3 / -1 )

This guy is out of his mind. I ride my bike just to station and would NEVER use the main road. It would be suicidal. Police should get the heck out of the koban and enforce the laws already on the books against people who ride bikes recklessly. I feel most danger from mothers on electric assisted bikes with 2 kids who are rushed and riding on sidewalks with entitled attitude.

3 ( +4 / -1 )

With the narrowness of the roads and amazing town planning that puts electrical poles jutting out way in these two metre-wide streets, and open gutting to fall into etc etc....riding a bicycle in cities here is like running through a Mario Bros game.

1 ( +2 / -1 )

自転 should be on the

I never move aside for bicycles on the sidewalk. They should be on the road.

I had one guy, about 20ish, shout at me to move once, so I kicked his front wheel and watched him fall into a bush.

-8 ( +8 / -16 )

Mr. Kobayashi is correct. Yes, Japan's roads are narrow but you know what, if you can't safely and properly ride a bicycle on the road then you don't belong on a bicycle. The pavement in Japan is crowded enough without all the idiotic cyclists jamming things up more. I'm sorry to generalize but nearly two decades here have given me the right to say that by and large, cyclists in Japan are menaces and the ones on the pavement are the worst! This is coming from someone who cycles daily too, not some car-driving bicycle hater.

-1 ( +2 / -3 )

Probie: I don't agree with body checking pavement cyclists though I've certainly wanted to and, like you, I don't move for them either. I walk on the left or ride of the pavement and if that's not good enough for them, too bad!

2 ( +2 / -0 )

Probie: I don't agree with body checking pavement cyclists though I've certainly wanted to and, like you, I don't move for them either. I walk on the left or ride of the pavement and if that's not good enough for them, too bad!

I don't bodycheck them. I just won't move. Kicking a front wheel is hardly something extreme too. They should be on the road.

-9 ( +2 / -11 )

As of June 1st of 2008, bicycles were required to share the road with cars. But, like many laws in Japan, this law is selectively enforced (or not enforced at all).

3 ( +3 / -0 )

Sunday I nearly got hit a half dozen times walking in Chofu. A few days before in Fuchu even more times.

Make is simple people. If you are a child of school age, you can ride on the sidewalk but must give right of way to pedestrians. If you are over 65 same story. If you are medically challenged in any way same story.

But if you are fit adult then you must share the road with cars and ride as traffic.

2 ( +5 / -3 )

Personally I think this is an awful idea. They need proper bicycle lanes, but since Japanese roads are barely big enough for a single car in some places I don't know how they'll manage it.

I live in the inaka and cyclists regularly veer into the incredibly narrow roads unexpectedly because the pavement has just ended... and in many cases they're off-balance to boot because the had to avoid falling into the meter-deep gutters.

In general the Japanese roads are awful. Too narrow, insufficient visibility because of random trees planted right on the side of the road (often by pedestrian crossings), insufficient lighting (street lights huge distances apart creating a nasty strobe effect when you're driving late at night)... I could go on, but really the Japanese roads all need to be completely refurbished and re-done, with enough space, proper pavements, better visibility... and a bicycle lane.

ProbieMay. 20, 2013 - 02:55PM JST I don't bodycheck them. I just won't move. Kicking a front wheel is hardly something extreme too. They should be on the road.

Just a hint, but it would be unwise to confess to criminal activity in a public forum. If the cyclist was in any way injured then you might be guilty of assault with injuries taking (X) days to heal.

If, however, the cyclist ran into you (or your foot), you could legitimately go to the nearest koban and file an assault charge, even if he was the one with the injuries (self-inflicted through negligent operation of a vehicle).

2 ( +2 / -0 )

There's nothing wrong with riding a bicycle on the sidewalk as long as you go slow, give way to pedestrians, don't ring your bell at 'em unless you've got 2 or more of 'em spread out blocking the entire sidewalk as they walk in 1 direction, and don't hit anybody.

4 ( +5 / -1 )

I got kicked out of the way by a cyclist in Ueno last year... so much for pedestrians being safe on the pavement.

0 ( +1 / -1 )

In my town there is a very narrow bicycle lane - just a painting line. Many places it is really too narrow - less than 2cm between a line and a guttering. But, I always try to use.

Then, two months before, suddenly many "safety" bollads was appeared IN the bicycle lane. Now we can't use - less than a bicycle's size! so this means my bicycle must go really in a busiest street place, or on the walking place.

I don't want be die, so I must use a walking place. So stupid construction! They block a bicycle way for bicycle safety!

-1 ( +3 / -4 )

I never understood why people think bicyclists should use the road instead of the sidewalk. A car hitting a bicyclist will cause much more harm than a bicyclist hitting a pedestrian. This is coming from someone who doesn't even own a bicycle and walk everywhere. I have no problem with bicycles on sidewalks.

-1 ( +2 / -3 )

The problem is down to the state of oblivion that most cyclists, car drivers, pedestrians and the police exist in. Solve that problem and all would be safe and well.

3 ( +4 / -1 )

自転 should be on the 車道

I never move aside for bicycles on the sidewalk. They should be on the road.

I had one guy, about 20ish, shout at me to move once, so I kicked his front wheel and watched him fall into a bush.

Hey Probie, should people in wheelchairs have to share the roads with cars too? After all, they're riding in 椅子.

0 ( +1 / -1 )

Bikes should be on the road and drivers need to be taught how to drive with them on the road. Bikers need to be taught basic bike safety.

I was on the road the other day and came upon an accident so the traffic was down to one lane. The cop told me to go on the sidewalk. When i pointed out that the law was for me to be on the street he told me "yes, that is the law but for your safety please use the sidewalk". WTF??

-2 ( +0 / -2 )

I'm a cyclist, and I can tell you that there are all kinds of cyclists on the road. There are ones who ride carefully and obey the law, and there are ones who don't. And believe me- I get as mad as anyone else when I see reckless cyclists. They don't only endanger pedestrians, you know. They endanger other cyclists as well. They don't stop at lights, they don't check behind them when changing lanes, they ride on the wrong side of the road and fly straight at you, and they come veering around corners at top speed. Every day as I ride to work I have to dodge these idiots, and I have at least three close encounters every day. It's my opinion that cyclists should be required to have license plates, and like cars, should be fined for breaking traffic laws. One thing I disagree with however, is that all cyclists must use the road at all times. I have a proper road bike, so I always ride in traffic, but I can well understand why someone with a small folding bike or a mamachari wouldn't- the cars do NOT like to share the road with bicycles, and many drivers are impatient and just plain reckless. I know several cyclists who've been seriously injured even though they were minding the traffic laws. Slower cyclists who cannot keep up with traffic or who are carrying children should not be on the roadway, or they're only going to get themselves killed. Instead, there need to be proper bike lanes and strict enforcement of the law.

1 ( +2 / -1 )

I never ride a bicycle all alone on the road because car drivers love honking beside me just to scare me out of concentration. Sometimes some even swerve into the lane/swerve in front of me and stuff. I feel safer on the pavement. I never hurt anyone, but once I was hurt by a person who opened a glass-door in my face :<

2 ( +2 / -0 )

Serrano: There's nothing wrong with riding a bicycle on the sidewalk as long as you go slow, give way to pedestrians, don't ring your bell at 'em unless you've got 2 or more of 'em spread out blocking the entire sidewalk as they walk in 1 direction, and don't hit anybody.

Poppler: I never understood why people think bicyclists should use the road instead of the sidewalk. A car hitting a bicyclist will cause much more harm than a bicyclist hitting a pedestrian.

Besides the general annoyance of having to watch out for cyclists on the pavement, it's more dangerous for the pedestrians and for the cyclists when cyclists use the pavement. All studies have shown that bicycle / car accidents actually increase when cyclists use the pavement. You're not guaranteed of 100% safety anywhere but learn the rules of the road, have some awareness of what is going on around you and ride assuming everyone is trying to kill you and you should be fine.

http://www.ipmba.org/newsletters/IPMBA-Sidewalks.pdf http://www.bike.cornell.edu/pdfs/Sidewalk_biking_FAQ.pdf http://www.bikexprt.com/bikepol/facil/sidepath/sidecrash.htm

0 ( +1 / -1 )

girl_in_tokyo: the cars do NOT like to share the road with bicycles, and many drivers are impatient and just plain reckless.

Yes, because the majority of cyclists in Tokyo do not consistently obey the rules of the road, the rules of logic or the rules of common courtesy. I am a nearly 20-year resident of Tokyo who rides on the roads daily, obeys the rules of the road and has never had a collision and very few encounters at all with drivers. I make myself visible with front and back lights and a reflective safety vest. I use hand signals which any idiot can understand and stop when I'm supposed to. Anyone who tries to suggest the majority of cyclists in Tokyo rides the same is simply oblivious or lying.

When car drivers see that you are trying to share the road in a considerate manner, they generally appreciate it. Of course there are the occasional jerks but overall I have found riding on the roads to be far safer and far more predictable -- until some jerk of a cyclists comes at me from the wrong direction expecting me to move out into the road so he or she can get past. I think not!

If, as an able-bodied adult, you're not comfortable riding your bicycle on the road then simply stay off the bike or stick to tooling around in parks.

0 ( +1 / -1 )

Didn't I read in Japantoday not so long ago that the police were going actually to enforce the law and make cyclists use the road?

I was once stopped for cycling on the main road and instructed to use the pavement instead. I did till he was out of sight and then went back on the road (naughty gaijin that I am).

0 ( +0 / -0 )

According to j-law bicycles are classed like 50cc scooters and need to follow the same rules.

Riding on the pavement is allowed under 2 conditions. When it is indicated to do so by bicycle-lane or similar or the pavement has a minimum width of at least 3 metres used to be 2 metres.

In my town they are doing a lot of work widening the roads and as per the law they now need to add bicycle lanes. Most of those lanes are separated by barriers from road and pedestrian traffic, same as in my home town overseas. The law has also changed that the car is no longer solely responsible for accidents.

Won't be that easy in downtown Tokyo or similar.

0 ( +0 / -0 )

@ThonTaddeo

車椅子 are not classed as a vehicle, whereas bicycles are. I thought that was obvious.

-2 ( +0 / -2 )

Generally speaking, things in Japan are done because "that's the way they are done," with no more thought about it.

The purpose of an activity is not even looked at.

The purpose of a road system, surely, is to enable people to get from where they are to where they want to go in the shortest possible time.

The first point to look at is that in order to get between these points in space, they need to know where they are. With no system of street names and house/building numbers, working out a route, or finding a destination can become very complicated and time consuming. It often ends up with people driving round blocks, looking at a cell phone, address on a slip of paper or car navigation system and not concentrating on what is in front of them.

Streets need to be named and the name of the street prominently displayed on each corner. Houses/buildings need to be numbered and these numbers prominently displayed so that people can work out where they are and where to go.

Otherwise, you get problems like this cell phone conversation:

I can't seem to find your place.

Are you in 3-chome?

I don't know. I can't see it written anywhere.

I'll come and pick you up, where are you?

I don't know. How do you tell?

Then, for road use, it makes sense for vehicles to travel on the same side of the road. Because if they don't, the chances of them bumping into each other are very great. This is particularly true on a corner when, if one vehicle is on the wrong side of the road, his/her view is obstructed by the corner until it's too late.

The question is whether a bicycle is a vehicle or a pedestrian. It's very difficult to classify as one or the other because you have kids racing around at breakneck speed on the one hand and obasans slowly making their way to the shops and back. What's greatly missing here is road sense. Instead of just spewing out more or less the same "education" as their forebears had, educators should take a look at what knowledge and skills are needed in the 21st century.

Living in the country in East Anglia as a kid, I loved to watch the cars go by. About ONE every half hour! In that place and at that time, road sense wasn't particularly important. It is now. I haven't been back for tens of years, but I'll bet that same street has cars, trucks and vans whizzing past at a steady rate and gridlock at "rush" hour.

When I was a teenager, I was living a couple of miles from my school. A long walk. But not a long bicycle ride. Students who wished to ride to school had to pass a "Cycling Proficiency Test." Instructors would come and lecture about road safety and rules and a playground was set up with pedestrian crossings and so on. It was an excellent idea.

This should be part of the school curriculum.

With this knowledge and these skills, bicycles should be able to share the road safely with powered vehicles. But without these things, it's rather leaving too much to chance, don't you think?

And then people would be able to get from where they are to where they want to go, rapidly and safely.

0 ( +1 / -1 )

wareware, why did you use quotation marks around the word safety?

1 ( +2 / -1 )

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