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As more people take to cycling and collisions with pedestrians increase, the transport ministry is looking at supporting municipalities’ efforts to build additional dedicated lanes.

The ministry said it will set up a panel of experts Friday to examine the best way to promote cycling safety and will draft new measures by next summer.

The officials believe new lanes will keep cyclists away from pedestrians, who often don’t see or hear them approaching. In 2012 there were 2,625 reported collisions with pedestrians, a one-third increase over the 1,966 incidents reported a decade earlier.

The officials also said proposals under consideration include repurposing existing roads and sidewalks if there is no space to build specialized paths.

The ministry says only 3,000 km of Japan’s 1.2 million km of roads have a dedicated cycle lane.

There are two types of cycle path: those set back from the road and sidewalk by a raised curb, and those that use the regular roadway and are marked only by a color along the side. The latter provide little comfort to cyclists as motorists can swerve into them at high speed or even park in them, negating their purpose.

Such projects are partly subsidized by the central government. However, most efforts to construct new bicycle lanes stall at the assessment stage because no space is available — especially in larger cities.

To address such problems, the ministry said it plans to introduce lanes designated as mixed traffic, where road signs would warn drivers that cyclists have equal right of way.

However, given that only 70 municipalities nationwide had submitted road plans that include the construction of bike lanes as of April, the government said it would consider encouraging municipalities to rethink their plans.

The ministry also said it was considering encouraging the use of bicycles as an environmentally friendly means of transport, as well as supporting tourism using rental bicycles.

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