With their habit of racing along pedestrian-filled sidewalks and ignoring the rules of the road, bicycles have long been a scourge of Japan’s city streets.
But perhaps no longer. The National Police Agency (NPA) — never mind the nation’s pedestrians and motorists — has had enough, according to Weekly Playboy. This spring, cops nationwide are expected to start collaring dangerous and annoying cyclists.
The crackdown would be backed by a revision — the first in three decades — to the NPA’s “Manual Concerning Traffic Methods.” Drawn up late last year, the guidelines go into force this spring, adding five new cycling prohibitions: Wearing headphones, operating a cell phone, holding an umbrella or affixing one to the bicycle, carrying more than one child as a passenger and excessive ringing of bells.
…Notably, the legal revision treats bicycles as “light vehicles” — just like motorcycles — and as such, cyclists are obliged to travel on roads, not sidewalks, where it seems 90 percent of urban cyclists prefer riding. And if cyclists can’t be bothered to switch on their lights at night, they could be pulled over, ticketed and made to pay a fine — of up to ¥50,000. That’s right: cyclists could be held up to the same standards as motorists.
“Until now, bicycles have been treated like pedestrians . . . and many of the people who ride bikes are mistaken in the belief that they are pedestrians,” says a man, name not given, who runs a Web site for cycling enthusiasts.
Provoking the authorities’ more aggressive attitude is the large number of traffic accidents involving bicycles. In 2006, such accidents numbered 174,000, accounting for 20 percent of the total.
Read more: search.japantimes.co.jp
Accidents involving bicycles made up 20% of all roadway incidents in 2006? I’d say you’ve got a problem on your hands.
The only question would be how to best address that problem. Although I can agree headphones are distracting, at least for me (I can’t hear cars when I’m also listening to music), I’m not sure holding an umbrella or ringing a bell (excessively or otherwise) is anything to worry about.
But what the hell I do know? I got a ride in to work this morning with my wife. My bikes are in the garage. For today, today I will be no twenty percenter.
Tomorrow – who knows? Sky’s the limit, baby.by