Driving on cell phones, bombing sidewalks… Increased crackdown on “bad bicycle users”! Blue ticket penalties are also being considered. | FRIDAY DIGITAL

Driving on cell phones, bombing sidewalks… Increased crackdown on “bad bicycle users”! Blue ticket penalties are also being considered.

  • Share on Twitter
  • Share on LINE

Bicyclists who “watch” while using their cell phones or wearing earphones collide with pedestrians.

The number of traffic accidents has been on the decrease in recent years, but the percentage of bicycle accidents has increased dramatically. Accidents between bicyclists and pedestrians are particularly common, and because of this, the National Police Agency has introduced a new law that requires the payment of a fine, just like traffic violations by cars.” blue ticket “The National Police Agency is beginning to consider the introduction of a ‘blue ticket’ system, in which a fine is paid in the same way as for traffic violations by cars.

Mr. Shigeki Kobayashi, president of the Bicycle Utilization Promotion Study Group, says, “The police department is beginning to consider the introduction of a “blue ticket” system.

Riding at high speed on the right sidewalk or roadway, riding back and forth between the sidewalk and roadway to avoid cars and pedestrians, riding on the sidewalk while ringing a bell, disregarding traffic signals with impunity…. There is no end to the number of people who ride according to these “selfish” rules, and many accidents have occurred.

Among bicycle accidents, those in large cities account for a large proportion. The national average for bicycle accidents as a percentage of all traffic accidents is 23%, while in Tokyo it is 46%,” says Kobayashi.

He says that bicycle accidents in Reiwa in recent years have a unique characteristic that did not exist in the past.

One of the causes of bicycle accidents in Reiwa is “dabbling” with a smartphone while riding a bicycle. People touch their phones while riding their bicycles and hit pedestrians while they are distracted. Many people wear earphones while riding their bicycles, which puts them in a dangerous situation where they are deprived of both sight and hearing.

This is not limited to bicyclists, but also pedestrians and car drivers. This is one of the adverse effects of the changes in our very lifestyles brought about by smartphones.

In addition, society as a whole has become more individualistic, and we are less inclined to ask how others are doing and care. This sense of ‘as long as it’s good enough for me, it’s good enough for me’ has led to malicious violations of traffic rules.

Violating the left-hand side of the road is punishable by imprisonment for up to three months or a fine of up to 50,000 yen.

Bicycles are essentially “vehicles” like cars and motorcycles. Therefore, in principle, bicycles should be ridden on the roadway, not on sidewalks where pedestrians walk.

Bicycles are allowed on sidewalks under certain conditions, such as when there is a sign on the sidewalk that says “Bicycles are allowed on sidewalks,” or when children under 13 years old, elderly persons over 70 years old, or physically disabled persons are riding a standard bicycle. In all cases, however, they must slow down (in the case of bicycles, the speed must be about that of a fast walk).

Although bicycles can be ridden by anyone, the Road Traffic Law stipulates five rules for the safe use of bicycles, and users must abide by these rules.

  • Five rules for safe bicycle use (enacted November 1, 2022)
  • (1) As a rule, ride on the left side of the roadway, with the exception of sidewalks, where pedestrians have priority.
  • (2) At intersections, obey traffic signals and stop signs, and check for safety.
  • (3) Turn on lights at night
  • (4) Do not drink and drive
  • (5) Wear a helmet

Not surprisingly, there are penalties for violating the Five Laws of Safe Bicycle Use.

  • (1) Ride on the left side of the road
  • Penalty: Up to 3 months imprisonment or a fine of up to 50,000 yen
  • Pedestrians have priority on sidewalks.
  • If violated…Penalty: fine of up to 20,000 yen or a fine.
  • Temporary stop
  • If violated… Penalty: Imprisonment for not more than 3 months or a fine of not more than 50,000 yen

The above is just one example of the penalties, but disregarding traffic signals and not turning on a light are also subject to penalties. In addition, the use of cell phones and earphones while riding a bicycle is also “prohibited” and subject to penalties.

  • Driving while using a cell phone
  • Penalty: Up to 50,000 yen
  • Driving with earphones
  • Penalty: Up to 50,000 yen
  • Driving with umbrella
  • Penalty: Up to 50,000 yen
Riding a bicycle while using a cellular phone is a prohibited activity. Remember that gazing at a cell phone screen may cause you to be unaware of your surroundings, which can lead to a serious accident

In Japan, there are few opportunities for adults to learn about bicycle traffic rules, and many people still mistakenly believe that bicycles should be ridden on sidewalks.

However, in the 1970s, when the use of cars became more common, it was decided that bicycles should be allowed to ride on sidewalks because it was dangerous to do so. As a result, bicycles were regarded as fellow pedestrians in Japan.

Later, statistics showed that sidewalk passage was not only dangerous for pedestrians, but also for bicyclists, and the government decided to enforce the principle that “bicycles are vehicles” and that “roadways are the rule. However, because sidewalk traffic has been the norm for more than 50 years, it is difficult to get rid of the feeling of being a pedestrian.

When driving a car or motorcycle, people obey signs and signals, but bicycles are not considered vehicles, and therefore traffic rules are disregarded. Many people are unaware that they are breaking the rules. One of the reasons why the number of violators has increased so much is the fact that there has been no police crackdown over the years.

There is a concern that although there are laws against bicycle violations, if strictly applied, the world would be full of criminals. In addition, the system has not been actively policed because of the time-consuming process of determining punishments for even minor violations.

For example, there is a penalty of ‘a fine of up to 50,000 yen’ for no lights, but whether it is 50,000 yen or 30,000 yen, and how much, has to be decided in court.

Japan has the lowest number of police officers per capita among developed countries at 500 The number of police officers per capita in Japan is extremely small, only one for every 500 people, and it was practically impossible to crack down on each and every bicycle violation and take them to court, so we have been forced to overlook them, which has led to the current increase in the number of violators.

Penalty Fines Based on “Blue Tickets” Will Lead to Stricter Crackdown on Bicyclists

The National Police Agency is now considering the introduction of a penalty system in response to a string of accidents caused by bicyclists violating traffic rules.

What is being considered is a system of fines based on so-called “blue tickets,” the same as for cars and motorcycles. Until now, violations have been overlooked, but it is better to think that this will no longer be the case. However, paying a fine is not the end of the story. At the same time, I think it is necessary to revise the rules so that they are easy to understand and can be followed by all bicycle users.

Bicycles are not the companions of pedestrians. Whether it is a cross bike or a mom-and-pop bicycle, people who use bicycles should have the sense that they are driving a vehicle.

Mr. Kobayashi hopes that the increased enforcement will not make it more difficult to ride a bicycle, but rather that it will make it easier for everyone to ride comfortably and safely.

Behind such violations as riding on sidewalks is the psychological tendency on the part of bicycle users to be afraid to ride on the road,” he said. Also, drivers say that bicycles on the roadway are in their way.

In other countries, bicycle lanes and traffic signals are in place, but Japan lags behind. Because of the lack of such environmental improvements, it is difficult to say that bicyclists are the only ones who are at fault.

We need to make rules that bicyclists can understand and follow, and we need to educate people that these rules are useful for the safety of pedestrians and bicyclists themselves. We may be riding in a dangerous way without knowing it.

I would like us to first reaffirm that traffic rules are for our own protection. If each of us is careful, we can make the world a more comfortable place for cyclists, cars, and pedestrians alike.”

Using bicycles has many advantages, such as saving energy and easing traffic congestion. Not only that, but it also offers health benefits such as increased muscle strength, metabolic syndrome prevention, improved blood flow, and anti-aging, as well as reduced medical costs. Incorporating bicycles into our daily lives while observing the rules will be a great benefit to both society and individuals.

*Reference: Metropolitan Police Department, “How to Ride a Bicycle Properly

Shigeki Kobayashi is the president of the NPO “Study Group for the Promotion of Bicycle Use. He works with ministries, agencies, and local governments to establish bicycle policies to make bicycles an effective and safe means of transportation. In cooperation with the Diet Members Caucus for the Promotion of Bicycle Use, he has contributed to the revision of various bicycle-related laws. The organization is also working to ensure that bicycles can be used safely and comfortably, including the introduction of the “Bicycle Navigation Mark,” which indicates areas where bicycles should be used.

  • Interview and text by Yoko Nemmochi

    Born in Yamagata Prefecture in 1983, Yoko Nemmochi worked for 10 years in the editorial department of a health information magazine, editing monthly magazines and web media before becoming a freelance writer. Currently, she interviews, plans, and writes for doctors and specialists, focusing on health care and medical fields.

  • PHOTO Afro

Photo Gallery3 total

Photo Selection

Check out the best photos for you.

Related Articles