National / Crime & Legal

Police issued almost 8,000 penalties for reckless bicycling since new laws took effect in June


Police issued penalties in 7,924 cases of reckless bicycling nationwide in the seven months since new regulations took effect last June, a survey by the National Police Agency indicated Monday.

A breakdown by prefecture found Osaka had the largest number of penalties issued, at 2,673, and 40 percent of the offenses were for ignoring traffic lights. Tokyo followed with 1,907 penalty cases, then came Hyogo with 780 cases, Kanagawa with 491 and Kyoto with 364. Fukui had zero cases, and Akita, Toyama, Gifu, Tokushima and Nagasaki prefectures reported one case each.

The revised Road Traffic Law that took effect June 1 stipulates the offenses include ignoring traffic lights, failing to stop at intersections where required and cycling while drunk. The police can issue tickets to cyclists who are age 14 or older. If offenders get two or more in a three-year period, they would be required to take a safety lesson similar to the one imposed on car, truck and motorcycle drivers.

There were seven bicycling violators up till Dec. 31 who had to take a safety lesson. They ranged from teenagers to those in their 40s, and five were Osaka residents. The remaining were a Tokyo resident and an Okayama resident. Most of them rode without properly working brakes. Many rode bicycles without brake levers, such as fixed-gear track bikes. Some of them either ignored traffic lights or caused an accident.

The largest number of offenses were for ignoring traffic lights, at 3,419 cases. This was followed by passing under railway crossing gates when they were down, at 1,950 cases. Violations of other safety regulations, such as cycling while using mobile phones, numbered 921 cases, while failing to stop when required amounted to 656 cases and riding without properly working brakes led to 360 penalties.