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The Japan Times editorial staff clearly failed to consult bicyclists before penning its snarky Nov. 3 editorial “Schooling for cyclists,” regarding the National Police Agency’s decision to put the brakes on sidewalk use by riders in the 14-69 age group.

As a cyclist who has logged over 50,000 kilometers on Japan’s roads in 13 years of residence in the country, I can attest that the greatest danger to pedestrians and cyclists alike is posed by motorists. Emboldened by police indifference and ineptitude, drivers routinely ignore traffic signals and posted speed limits, fail to yield to pedestrians and cyclists in zebra crossings and — what for cyclists is most dangerous — seem to take particular pleasure in overtaking riders and then cutting them off.

Faced with these unsafe conditions and the absence of designated bike lanes on roadways, cyclists naturally prefer the relative safety of the pavement. Although accidents between cyclists and pedestrians are to be expected and are perhaps inevitable, both should be educated in the safe use of sidewalks to reduce the number of incidents. If cyclists are to be forced onto the roads, then it is motorists, not cyclists, who need the schooling.

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.

brian southwick

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