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Bicycling in Japan

Riding a bicycle is one of the most basic things a person can do. In Japan, it used to be quite simple. However, the rules have been tightened since 2015 and can be quite harsh.

Things to Avoid Doing

  • Don’t ride on the sidewalk unless there is a designated sidewalk bicycle lane. Of course, this makes things more dangerous for bicyclists, but safer for pedestrians.
  • Don’t ride on the wrong side of the road. Bicycles are no different than cars without engines, according to the police.

Common Sense

  • Don’t use a smartphone while riding a bicycle. Don’t walk while using one, either.
  • Don’t use an umbrella while riding a bicycle. Raincoats are not expensive, although they are bulky and hot.

New Japanese Bicycle Safety Law (From the Tokyo Embassy)

Under the new law, any cyclist who is caught riding through a red light or violating other traffic regulations more than twice in a period of three years, will be required to take a safety course before being allowed back on the streets. The course lasts for three hours, and costs the participants 5,700 yen. Anyone who does not attend the course after receiving the order will be fined up to 50,000 yen. There are 13 traffic violations covered by the new law.

-Riding through/ignoring traffic signals

-Passing under a railway crossing gate

-Not stopping at stop signs

-Violating traffic regulations while riding on sidewalks

-Riding with malfunctioning/non-working brakes

-Riding a bicycle while intoxicated

-Entering off-limit areas

-Riding too slowly on sidewalks and obstructing pedestrian flow

-Not following traffic lines

-Riding onto pedestrian-only areas of sidewalks

-Entering crosswalk without green-light to do so

-Not paying attention to other pedestrians and or cyclists due to using mobile devices

-Violating regulations when at circular cross-walks