FUKUOKA – A crowded section of a popular Fukuoka shopping street is off-limits to bike riders during peak hours, with riders being asked to walk their bikes through the area.
The municipal government designated the section Monday as the first no-rider zone in the country. The city has seen more than 3,000 bicycle-related accidents a year since 1998, accounting for roughly 25 percent of all traffic accidents.
Reckless riding is generally considered the cause of the relatively high accident rate.
The street is in the crowded Tenjin district, where the ban covers a stretch about 400 meters long. No one is allowed to ride there between 8 a.m. and 7 p.m. Monday to Friday, and 10 a.m. to 7 p.m. on weekends and holidays.
The city based the rule on an ordinance covering bicycle safety that took effect Monday. There is no penalty for violations.
“There are so many bicycles here and I have been almost hit by them,” said Sanae Kunisaki, 70, who often walks to a nearby swimming pool. Noriko Yoshida, 68, who works part time and commutes by bicycle, said “I may have to change my commute route because pushing my bicycle takes time.”