Consumer demand for ponchos has surged in recent months in line with the revised traffic law that took effect June 1 that can punish umbrella-holding bicyclists in the event they hit someone, the Mainichi Shimbun reported Tuesday.
At a Tokyu Hands outlet in the city of Osaka, the number of inquiries about rain ponchos jumped after the revised law took effect. June sales were 1.6 times higher than what was logged in the same month last year, and the figure more than doubled in July.
A 49-year-old businessman who looked perplexed in front of a poncho display at the store one evening in July said he had been warned by the police because he was holding an umbrella while bicycling to visit customers.
“I cannot be too careful. I must not cause a traffic accident,” he was quoted as saying by the newspaper.
At a Loft store in Osaka that sells some 200 poncho varieties, sales in July rose by 8.4 times over the previous year. The most popular poncho cost about ¥4,000.
The revised road traffic law designates bicycle traffic violations, including riding while drunk and riding a bike without brakes as particularly dangerous. Holding an umbrella can also be among activities that constitute dangerous riding.
Under the revised law, individuals 14 years and older who commit a violation twice in three years must attend a three-hour safety lecture.
Last month, Osaka’s public safety commission ordered a 29-year-old man to attend a bicycle safety lecture after repeated road violations, in the first such case following the legal revision in June.