National

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.