A recent report by the National Consumer Affairs Center of Japan concluded what many commuters already know: Hand-pulled bags on casters are dangerous. Anyone taking the train or walking through a crowded place in a large city in Japan has surely stumbled over these menaces. The bags turn into hazardous, under-foot hurdles and one more headache most pedestrians can do without.

Among the many problems of big cities, pull bags on casters may not seem top the danger list. However, the NCAC has documented many cases of injuries requiring medical treatment. Not only do pull bags cause people to stumble and fall; but the casters roll over people’s feet, overloaded bags turn over and bag-pullers can sprain their own wrist. In several cases, heavy bags tumbled downstairs, hitting people below.

The bags also were found to cause escalators to stop and bus doors to jam, and prevent train doors from closing. These problems are exacerbated during crowded conditions and when some bag-pullers try to pull two bags behind them!

Obviously, many travelers, salespeople and people with conditions requiring assistance need to pull bags throughout the public transportation system. Yet, the convenience for a few can quickly cause irritation, and injury, for others.

The list of NCAC guidelines for overcoming these troubles is a fairly common-sense one, but bears repeating: Keep bags close to one’s body; carry the bag off the ground when getting on escalators or elevators and when boarding buses; slow one’s pace over uneven areas and bumps; and never overload the bag.

Anyone transporting a pull bag in crowded conditions should be aware of the potential to harm or disturb those around them. Most of the time, these bags are only a small aggravation, but the injuries documented by the NCAC are real enough.

The unnecessary use of pull bags has become something of a symbol of social indifference and selfishness, much like loud public cell-phone conversations or public drunkenness. Japan has a long tradition of polite public regard for others. That tradition is a good one that should continue.

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