Tomoko Otake’s Sept. 27 feature article, “Let’s Bike!“: I love being able to bike around, and it’s definitely safer here than in my hometown back in America. But the article should have mentioned the bad behavior of people not on bikes.
Some major concerns from a bike-riding foreigner: Cars and trucks parked on sidewalks and in bike lanes, forcing cyclists onto the road; motorcycles ridden in cycling/pedestrian lanes and on sidewalks instead of in lanes for motorized vehicles; lousy maintenance of marked cyclist/pedestrian sidewalks; pedestrians who don’t look where they’re going — they pop out around corners or from driveways, etc.
I’d love to be separated from pedestrians, but even sidewalks that are divided into bike lanes and walking paths, as in Kyoto, have pedestrians walking wherever they please, leaving cyclists to weave through the crowd and likely to take all the blame.
It’s hard for cyclists to be “legal” and “safe,” especially with the impulsive way Japanese people drive. I can’t tell you how many times I have been in the middle of a crosswalk and had turning cars roar at me, only to stop millimeters away and then glare at me as I recover from another near-heart attack.
If Japan is really worried about the safety of people commuting alongside moving vehicles, it needs to widen roads, improve the quality of sidewalks, begin an aggressive public awareness of rights of way and the need to “look both ways,” or make some kind of elevated bike path that cars and motorcycles can’t use to try to plow their way through.
And what does an ATV (all-terrain vehicle) qualify as? A couple of rude guys on my bike ride home take up the whole sidewalk with their ATV, cruising up and down. Once they’ve had enough of that, they crawl down the main road in it.