From this month, people caught engaging in reckless cycling must take safety lessons under the revised Road Traffic Law. The revised law should serve as a reminder to cyclists that they can cause serious and even fatal traffic accidents. People need to learn to follow traffic rules and use proper judgment when riding bicycles.

The enforcement order for the revised law classifies 14 acts as reckless cycling, including ignoring traffic lights, failing to stop at intersections where required, speeding on sidewalks, using bicycles whose brakes do not function properly, riding under the influence of alcohol and riding while using a smartphone or listening to music through earphones. The police will issue traffic tickets to cyclists aged 14 and older who have committed such violations. Cyclists who have received two or more tickets within three years will be required to attend a three-hour safety education program, and failure to do so within three months will result in a fine of up to ¥50,000. The program includes tests on traffic rules, the reading of notes written by victims of cycling accidents or their bereaved families, and the viewing of videos of real bicycle accidents.

The public should be made aware of traffic accidents involving bicycles. Last year there were 109,269 accidents involving bicycles — about 20 percent of all traffic accidents. Deaths occurred in 542 of them. The annual number of fatal accidents involving bicycles but not cars and trucks rose from 51 in 2004 to 82 in 2014. Violations of traffic rules by cyclists show no signs of abating, with the number of tickets issued to cyclists reaching 7,716 last year, a sharp rise from 268 in 2006.