Spread awareness about safe cycling to prevent accidents involving bicycles

There is no end to traffic accidents caused by people cycling dangerously. Police are intensifying a crackdown on reckless cycling, but they also need to take this opportunity and make sure again that cyclists know how to ride their bikes properly.

The Metropolitan Police Department has started issuing “red tickets” to cyclists who committed serious traffic violations, which can lead to fines and other penalties. Police across the country also are responding in similar ways.

Warnings were only issued in many cases in the past, but the authorities have decided to strengthen measures to prevent accidents. They said that red tickets will be issued to cyclists, such as those who ignored traffic lights, rode on the right side of roads or did not reduce their speed on sidewalks.

Among bicycle-related accidents that resulted in deaths or serious injuries nationwide last year, 70% involved traffic violations by cyclists, such as running a red light. Accidents in which pedestrians were killed or injured after being hit by bicycles have also occurred across the country. The significance of police keeping an eye on bicycle traffic violations is significant.

Bicycles are classified as light vehicles under the Road Traffic Law. In principle, cyclists are required to ride on the left side of roads and observe traffic lights on roads, not traffic signals for pedestrians. As an exception, cyclists also can use sidewalks, but they must reduce their speed and must not obstruct pedestrian traffic.

However, many cyclists might continue to violate traffic regulations without knowing the basic rules. Some aspects of the rules themselves also are hard to understand. For example, on sidewalks, what speeds are appropriate and how should cyclists ride in a way that does not impede pedestrian traffic?

The Tokyo metropolitan government said it is developing a smartphone app that will teach the rules of cycling. It is hoped that both the police and the bicycle-related industries will make efforts to disseminate information on how to ride bicycles properly, through traffic safety classes and other programs.

The spread of food delivery services during the coronavirus pandemic has led to a surge in the number of bicycle delivery workers. Bicycle-sharing services are also becoming popular.

In recent years, many people have been using racing bikes that can reach high speeds or electric-assisted bicycles with heavy bodies. Accidents involving such bikes tend to be more serious. If you ride a bicycle, it is vital to make sure that you wear a helmet.

Police and private parking inspectors are among the many people who monitor illegal bicycle parking. Dangerous cycling should also be reduced through the presence of security personnel in towns alone. There is a need to consider how to effectively safeguard against dangerous cycling.

It is also important to create a road environment in which cyclists can ride safely. Some roads are narrow and dangerous for cyclists. The central and local governments need to further improve road infrastructure such as by installing bicycle lanes, so that cyclists, drivers and pedestrians can use roads with peace of mind.

(From The Yomiuri Shimbun, Nov. 9, 2022)