Bicycle use is growing along with greater public awareness of health and environmental issues, with cities around the country beginning to rent them out to visitors who are eager to tour Japan on the cheap.

But this has triggered a rise in fatal accidents caused by reckless cyclists, who are often taken to court and ordered to pay tens of millions of yen in damages for their transgressions.

The revised Road Traffic Law took effect June 1 to get a handle on the problem by penalizing cyclists who flout the rules of the road and forcing them to take safety courses if they fail to improve.