The Nov. 3 editorial “Schooling for cyclists” appears to be a myopic regurgitation of bureaucratic rhetoric — in this case, National Police Agency talking points.
This normally would not raise my ire, but when such dreck backtracks on The Japan Times’ publication of the decent Oct. 30 article by Philip Brasor, “Cyclists piste at Tokyo police crackdown,” even the lowest of expectations are dashed.
Brasor’s article accurately frames the issue: a sudden crackdown that ignores the fundamental, schizophrenic disparity in the realities of transportation infrastructure and inconsistent regulation. Though they are frequently (and lawfully) required to ride in the roadway, cyclists too often find themselves quickly shooed off, intimidated by the honking of entitled drivers or dangerously aggressive overtaking.
Key to this debate is the lack of defined cycling infrastructure — dedicated lanes in the roads or sidewalks, understood by all — and the resulting ambiguity that endangers both pedestrians and cyclists. Notably, drivers are not currently or ever will be thus endangered — only slightly inconvenienced or slowed.
As municipalities the world over comprehend this onus and shift their infrastructure priorities accordingly, perhaps Japan will take notice and follow suit by “schooling” both cyclists and drivers in how to coexist safely and equitably.
The opinions expressed in this letter to the editor are the writer’s own and do not necessarily reflect the policies of The Japan Times.
In a time of both misinformation and too much information, quality journalism is more crucial than ever.
By subscribing, you can help us get the story right.