Bad, drunk or speeding cyclists face new penalties

Kyodo

Careless cyclists may have to undergo retraining if they cause accidents or even if they merely violate road rules, under a legal revision scheduled to take effect June 1.

An apparent rise in collisions and other incidents resulting in injury or even death led the Cabinet on Tuesday to approve an amendment to the road traffic law that will spell out harsher penalties for negligent cyclists.

The amendment aims to make the roads and sidewalks safer. It will spell out stricter punishment for cyclists fined on the spot or charged with traffic violations twice or more within a period of three years.

People who notch up two tickets in that period will be required to take a training course.

Police figures show hundreds of cyclists would meet this criteria every year. Moreover, the change would demand punishment for 14 types of traffic offenses, such as cycling while under the influence of alcohol and ignoring stop lights. Cyclists will also be penalized for causing an accident while talking on a mobile phone.

The revised law will enable the police to fine cyclists for going too fast on the sidewalk or failing to give way to pedestrians.

Those who ride bicycles without brake levers, such as fixed-gear track bikes, may also be fined.

The National Police Agency says officers who witness a traffic violation may in the first instance stop and deliver a warning to a cyclist. If the individual fails to obey, a violation ticket will be issued.

Cyclists who get two tickets within three years will be obliged to take a compulsory three-hour awareness training course whose contents will be published by June.

Moreover, manifest disobedience will be subject to a fine of up to ¥50,000.

The agency said of the 10,443 cycling-related collisions reported in 2003 between two cyclists or a cyclist and a pedestrian, 61 were fatal.

Figures for 2013 show a significant fall in the number of overall incidents, or 8,141, but 93 deaths — a significant rise.

  • zer0_0zor0

    It’s crowded out there, we all have to be more careful, especially those of us on wheels–of any sort.

  • JimmyJM

    The largest group of cycle rule violations are the police themselves. They never wear helmets, rarely have usable lights or reflectors, and they ride on sidewalks. If the law enforcers can’t obey the law, how can they expect the average rider to? Of course, four wheel operators treat bike riders as non-existent and bike riders who are on the pavement on the left side as they should be, are forced out into traffic by vehicles parked in the bike lanes. And there is no reason bike riders should ride in the gutters. Tires are expensive. Having said all that, there are “hot dogs” and “cowboys” out there who like to pretend they’re in the X-games. They need to be reigned in.

    • blimp

      JimmyJM, you are my new hero, spot on mate.

    • Brian Southwick

      Japan has no helmet law for cyclists. Moreover, cyclists are permitted to use sidewalks that are three or more meters wide.

      • JimmyJM

        The helmet requirement (can’t call it a “law”) is not nation wide but found in various regions. I’ve been stopped by (non-helmeted) police both to congratulate me for wearing a helmet (and give me a pack of tissues) and to advise me to put my helmet on (forgot it). I suspect that the three meters wide thing is also regional as I know of areas in Tokyo that ban bicycles on sidewalks period. Granted, in Tokyo finding a three meter wide sidewalk isn’t easy but on narrower sidewalks, the Policeman on the beat is on his bicycle.

  • Paul Johnny Lynn

    This is all very well, but the plods hardly ever enforce the laws they have at their disposal now. I doubt too many errant cyclists have too much to worry about.

  • Guest

    In Japan great emphasis is put on obeying the rules. In the case of traffic rules, concerning cyclists however, there is ignorance or irresponsibility on part of the cyclists and lacking enforcement on part of the police. This is one of the greatest contradictions in this country, because obeying traffic rules, in contrast to many other superfluous ones, is essential
    to stay healthy and alive. Cyclists seem to move about in an unlegislated area, being victims and perpetrators at the same time. I have been harassed many times by motorists, because I was riding on the left side of the street with my bike, as required by traffic law. On the other hand walking with a small child on a sidewalk can be really dangerous.

  • Tando

    In Japan great emphasis is put on obeying the rules. In the case of traffic rules, concerning cyclists however, there is ignorance or irresponsibility on part of the cyclists and lacking enforcement on part of the police. This is one of the greatest contradictions in this country, because obeying traffic rules, in contrast to many other superfluous ones, is essential to stay healthy and alive. Cyclists seem to move about in an unlegislated area, being victims and perpetrators at the same time. I have been harassed many times by motorists, because I was riding on the left side of the street with my bike, as required by traffic regulations. On the other hand walking with a small child on a sidewalk can be a real nightmare.