A transport ministry panel has agreed on a plan to call on local governments to pass ordinances aimed at obliging cyclists to use liability insurance.
The plan was agreed to on Friday at the first meeting of the expert panel, set up for discussion on compensation systems following a series of court rulings that ordered large damages payments over bicycle accidents in which pedestrians died or suffered serious injuries.
According to the panel, headed by Kansai University professor Keiji Habara, only six of the country’s 47 prefectures and five ordinance-designated major cities oblige bicycle users to sign liability insurance policies.
The number of collisions between cyclists has been increasing in Japan since 2015, rising to 2,749 in 2017.
Collisions between cyclists and pedestrians have almost leveled off. In 2017, 2,550 such cases occurred. Of cases in which the pedestrians died or were severely injured, the proportion of the cyclists involved who were confirmed to have bought insurance stood at 60 percent.
The proportion of bicycle users with insurance is rising in Saitama and Hyogo prefectures as well as in Nagoya and the city of Sakai, Osaka Prefecture, all of which require cyclists to take out insurance under ordinances, according to the panel.
Noting that ordinance-based measures are effective, the panel will discuss related issues, including the scope of coverage of such insurance and the advisability of creating a compulsory liability insurance system for cyclists.
In July 2013, the Kobe District Court ordered the mother of an elementary school student to pay some ¥95 million after the child, who was on a bicycle, crashed into a woman and left her with disabilities.
The Tokyo District Court issued in January 2014 a ruling for a man, who hit a woman with his bicycle and killed her, to pay some ¥47 million in damages.
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