Tokyo cyclists may soon be snarled in red tape

TOKYO —

Earlier this month, cyclists in Tokyo were confronted with news that the metropolitan government was considering a number of new regulations on ownership of two-wheelers. One proposed a system of mandatory registration, including the affixing of a license plate. Another proposed payment of a deposit to be collected at the time of purchase.

Weekly Playboy (Oct 1), whose editorial policies lean toward the anti-authoritarian, dispatched a reporter to city hall to investigate what the government is up to.

“At present, it hasn’t yet come to the stage where we are considering an ordinance,” explained a worker at the traffic safety division. “From last May, we organized a discussion group called the ‘Metropolitan Tokyo Bicycle Consulting Group,’ composed of opinion leaders and various members of society, who will look into certain problems. One of the topics that came up in their deliberations was a requirement to put license plates on bicycles. In the future this may become one of an number of policies affecting bicycles.”

In other words, the magazine explains, no time frame has been set for the law’s adoption. But what is the likelihood that the consulting group will try to ram it through?

Things appear moving in that direction. One of the reasons why such a law was proposed in the first place was the soaring number of traffic accidents involving collisions between bicycles and buses. Growing numbers of public buses are equipped with cameras, and by requiring bicycles to affix license plates measuring 5 by 15 centimeters—whose numbers would be large enough for the cameras to record—it is argued that determining the causes of these accidents would be facilitated.

Another justification for license plates on two-wheelers would be for crime prevention, as the number of purse snatchings by cyclists has been on the rise.

But crooks aboard scooters and motorcycles have found ways to get around this by bending or otherwise obscuring their license plates to render them invisible to the victims, and it can be assumed that bicycle riders bent on theft would adopt the same tricks.

As for deposits paid at the time of purchase, those in favor justify it by noting that a similar law is already in force for large home appliances and automobiles, to cover eventual recycling costs. This system, they argue, should be adopted for bicycles as well.

“It may also discourage the people who wantonly discard bicycles they no longer want,” a source was quoted as saying.

Weekly Playboy’s counterargument is that such a law in effect punishes responsible owners for the actions of a few troublemakers.

A law requiring number plates raises numerous questions. For instance, how would this work with people who ride their bicycles into Tokyo from neighboring prefectures not having a similar system? And what about Tokyoites who purchase mail-order bicycles from outlying prefectures?

Upon investigation, the magazine found that eventually the law would affect not only sales of new bicycles but would cover older models as well. And people who bring in two-wheelers from outside the metropolis would be required to register them, probably at any authorized bicycle shop.

Whatever is eventually decided, the sheer scale of the project will be staggering. Tokyo presently has 6.4 million households, of which approximately one in 10, or 640,000 people, purchase a new bicycle each year. In addition to the red tape this would generate, it must be assumed that to enforce such regulations, a means of penalizing riders of non-registered bicycles will have to be implemented, probably through setting up of roadside checkpoints. Naturally enforcement will entail increased costs, which of course will be borne by the poor, oppressed taxpayers.

Members of the consulting group who ride bicycles are arguing that the issue deserves careful debate and stress that ultimately such a system is unlikely to prove effective. Weekly Playboy hopes these voices of reason do not fall upon deaf ears.

  • 1

    Michael Craig

    Glad this isn't happening in my country!

  • 12

    Harry_Gatto

    License the riders not the bikes. Spend the money teaching people basic road safety and the potential consequences of riding a bike on the wrong side of the road etc. Introduce a mandatory compulsory competence test, after all the many idiots riding bikes become idiots riding scooters and idiots driving cars. The stupidity of the average cyclist in Japan has to be seen to be believed.

  • 8

    Virtuoso

    Thanks@Harry. In addition to the above, revoke the licenses and confiscate the bicycles of all riders who engage in texting on their cell phones while in motion.

  • 1

    Isthiezak

    License plates? Sure. Deposits? No.

    I'm fed up of idiots on bicycles here. Just seeing them rocketing up the wrong side of a busy road gives me chills. I once got taken out as I was stepping off a bus by some highschool moron who came up between the bus and the sidewalk in the wrong direction. Didn't even get a "sorry", he just gave me a dirty look like I was in the wrong and cycled off. I've been on busses that have had to swerve out of the way of cyclists going the wrong way, and I recently walked past an accident scene where a cyclist had slammed into the door of a taxi who was letting their passenger out.

    Yes, there is a 2-foot wide on the side of the road for cyclists, but you have to be going in the same direction as the rest of the traffic, and you have to look where you're going!!

    There seems to be little or no education regarding bicycle safety here, and what's worse, the laws that do exist for cyclists are never enforced. A licence plate would go a long way towards 1) making people realise they need to be careful and 2) catching those that cause accidents.

  • 15

    frenchosa

    I recently walked past an accident scene where a cyclist had slammed into the door of a taxi who was letting their passenger out.>

    Are you sure that it was the cyclist fault? I commute to work and I have had three close calls with doors in the last two years In all three cases, the person opened the door with out looking.

    Sure they are a lot of moron cyclist, but there are an equal number of moron pedestrians and drivers. I think the should just enforce the current laws. Ticket cyclist who ride on the wrong side of the road or go through stop lights. I wouldn't want the cops to spend their time enforcing license plate registration, I want the cops to spend their time enforcing traffic laws.

    License plates for bicycles will never stop thieves from stealing. More than likely thieves are using a stolen bicycle for their theft

  • 7

    paulinusa

    This is mostly about collecting more fees. Have to increase revenues.

  • 5

    Alex Einz

    frenchosa - exactly

    The laws are in place but nobody enforcing them,what will a plate change exactly? and where exactly do they propose to affix it on my road bike ? Are they thinking I am gonna be doing my TT training with a number plate ?????

  • 8

    tmarie

    Two words - BIKE LANES!

    If there are that many people on bikes causing problems, give them a lane. I bike to work and while some of you are angry, how do you think good bikers feel? Not only do we get tarred and feathered because of the idiots, we also have to swerve and avoid them. Perhaps if they taught bike safety here... Oh wait, that would be proactive...

  • 6

    It"S ME

    No place for a plate on my mountain-bike as I already have a rear-fender and a carrier above it.

    They will have to sell rear-fenders with a place to mount the plates, might work for new sales but not for current Bikes.

    Plus people will discard the bicycles just sans the plates and registration stickers.

    Agree we need better Rider education or riders licences like Germany has. I think Kanagawa-ken was planning on introducing a riders licence.

  • 11

    powderb

    Avid cyclist here who obeys traffic laws.

    One thing pedestrians might not realize: people often walk in cycling lanes when crossing the street, or even on cycling paths next to roads. I bike Yamate-Dori daily and will pass dozens of people walking in the cycling lanes. I often get dirty looks from pedestrians while crossing crowded intersections, despite the fact that I am clearly in the appropriately marked lane.

    The next time you are crossing a crowded intersection with cycling lanes, please do note the amount of pedestrians who break these rules. It is most definitely not always cyclists fault.

  • 6

    iceshoecream

    tmaire, I totally agree with you. I bike to work and almost everywhere in this country. I don't just have to watch for cars and the normal stuff but also for these idiots.

  • -2

    tmarie

    Powederb and iceshoe, amen! Bikers are supposed to bike on the street - though of course, no one enforces this. Then the cities put bike lanes on the sidewalks which confuses people and people walk in them. So pedestrians get ticked off and the drivers refuse to share the roads. Where exactly are people on bikes suppose to go? I bike on the street - I have a road bike. I also have a helmet and follow the rules. I can't count how many idiot drivers have nearly hit me and I can't count how many idiot pedestrians have run out in front of me - let alone walk in the "bike lanes".

    If Japan wants to deal with this problem, they need to educate people. Nothing ticks me off more than a mom on a bike with kids, no helmet, no light on in the dark, coming the wrong way and who expects ME to get out of her way.

  • 6

    paulinusa

    Hate to repeat myself, but for those of you arguing about bike safety, these proposals, if true, are more about money for Tokyo government bureaucrats.

  • 3

    Maurice Derrick Batie

    Putting a liscense plate on a bike won't stop them from being idiot riders. This is a society where the people care more about what's on Facebook than their lives being in danger. They will keep texting while riding not knowing how easy it is to become a victim of a very serious accident that can result in death. I don't like police over here nut there isn't enough police patrolling the areas to stop these idiots. If the police were doing their jobs then people would know not to do stuff like that. They have no regard for rules of the road or police. Running red lights and speeding, tailgating is normal driving over here, until somebody gets killed. Then it's either "Gomenasai" or just run away.

  • -4

    tmarie

    Indeed Paul because I've already paid to have my bike registered so why the extra cost of a plate now? As Maurice has said, a plate won't make everyone behave. Only teaching people the dangers and actually fining people for being idiots will - but that goes both ways with drivers and pedestrians as well!

  • 3

    smithinjapan

    Here's an idea -- ENFORCE TRAFFIC LAWS! Both for bicycles AND buses. The people who ride the former are so utterly clueless of the laws (not everyone, of course) that I'm amazed that to date I've only had a couple of very minor scrapes with other cyclists (all either highschool students or middle-aged women riding mama-chari tanks on the wrong side of the road). Buses, though, have their share in the blame. On the street in front of my apartment there are no sidewalks, and the roads so narrow the buses often veer onto the shoulder of the road to let oncoming large vehicles go by so that there is literally no place to walk or ride -- you have to wait for the bus to go back into the proper driving lane. And when they stop off at bus stops they do the same, so you have to choose to go into oncoming traffic or wait for the bus to start up again).

    Either way, both the license plate and deposit ideas are ridiculous. If they want more money to cover the cost of things, the police need only step into the street and open their eyes for a mere second to see multiple infractions of the law by both bicycles and motor vehicles -- they just choose to do nothing about it.

  • 5

    Kabukilover

    I'm a cyclist, as opposed to the typical brainless bicycle rider. I wear a helmet and obey the rules. Obeying the rules is hard because of the bicycle riders who ride the wrong way, often three or four abreast, their ears plugged into ITunes and their eyes on their smart phones.

    As a pedestrian, I avoid the bike lanes, which is hard because of the bicycle rides who insist on zigzagging through the crowd rather than using the bicycle lanes, which are usually obstructed not only by pedestrians but also stationary chatterers and baby strollers.

    Licenses are not going to improve the situation. The money will just go into the pockets of the lazy cops who do nothing about enforcing the rules already in place.

  • 2

    MoBass4u

    @paulinusa You beat me to it! It is truly about more revenue than anything else. A Moron on a bike is a moron plates or not.

  • 4

    Alex Einz

    Riding with headphones is illegal , riding opposite is illegal, riding on sidewalk is illegal, double parking is illegal,parking on nonparking zones creating blindspots is illegal, stopping middle of the road to drop of or pick up customers is illegal, jaywalking is a menace and illegal ,look before open doors is taught, signal before turn is required - yet show me even once any of these are enforced... I see all of these on daily commute thru all west Tokyo regularly ( as in every day, many times a day ) I really dont understand why none of those are actively enforced and fined... there is no need in any plates...

    Btw, any accident involving Taxi - typically 99% taxi fault in Japan. The drivers are incompetent, dont know traffic laws or the city, rude and shortsighted mostly ( as in cant see properly ) and bitter about life.

  • 1

    Alex Einz

    if the police are so lazy,why dont they introduce public reporting service as in many countries, with smart phone today it is so easy to snap illegal parking photo with a number plate and send it over. I will be happy to bring them multiple revenue every day because I am absolutely sick and tired of all those cars parked on one lane street with clear non parking signage and yellow lites on , creating blind spots , making me turn to opposite traffic and so on.

  • 6

    flammenwerfer

    tokyo has plenty of other pressing issues to deal with...don't they?

  • 3

    smithinjapan

    I think the recent "Tokyo Bike Safety Week" or whatever it was said it all about things here when police found only ONE infringement the entire time. Sweet lord.... I count more than 40 in five minutes. But then, given that J-cops don't even know the laws themselves, as was evident in the survey last year, it's not surprising motor vehicles here are still given priority, and safety only taken into account AFTER accidents occur.

  • 4

    Scrote

    Enforce existing laws before coming up with more "rules". How about a Y10000 fine for walking in the cycle lane? People who are too dopey to notice the signs painted on the ground and the different colour of the pavement might pay more attention if they have to stump up some cash.

    I always force people cycling on the wrong side of the road to go to my right, often accompanied with a shout telling them to ride on the left. These people need to be told, and told often, then the rules might sink into their thick heads.

  • 2

    smithinjapan

    Scrote: Agreed. About a week ago I rang by bell quite a few times towards a person who decided a hike on the street was better than walking on the sidewalk and she said 'urusai, ne!' to me, to which I replied she should walk on the sideWALK and not in the middle of the road. This countries enforcement of traffic laws is utterly disgraceful.

  • 2

    frenchosa

    I always force people cycling on the wrong side of the road to go to my right, often accompanied with a shout telling them to ride on the left. >

    Same here. On my commute there is one small bridge that there is always someone riding on the wrong side of the road. I usually stare them down and move closer to the left.. that is usually a hint that they will be the one moving to the right. Once in a while there will be an obasan who will come to a dead stop,.. which make me stop and I wave my hand for them to move to my right. I haven't yet resorted to shouting.

    I ride a lot on smaller side streets that parallel the main roads, you would be surprised at how many cars do not obey stop signs. There is a very low possibility of ever getting a ticket. Police on their one day of the month traffic campaign are always at the same spots along the main road.

  • 1

    smithinjapan

    frenchosa: "Once in a while there will be an obasan who will come to a dead stop"

    Let me guess, they 'dismount' their bikes and then you pass they do the 'keri-keri-nori' mount again?

    Scrote: "Enforce existing laws before coming up with more "rules". How about a Y10000 fine for walking in the cycle lane?"

    An even better one would be a 10,000 yen or more fine for people making said lanes their defacto parking spaces while they wait for someone to get out of the train station, or go in to the combini for a pack of smokes, etc. Oh, wait... they do turn the hazard lights on though so it can't be wrong.

  • 3

    ThonTaddeo

    Licensing bicyclists looks like it might be a good idea at first but ultimately I think it will create more problems than it solves.

    First, will they create a physical license that will be issued to people? Will they make people carry them? That's going to be a problem. Sure, you have to carry your driver's license if you're driving a car, but cars have their own lockable secure storage areas where you can just keep the license if you're afraid of forgetting it. Not so with bicycles -- you'll be breaking the law if you accidentally leave it at home or work and go out to the conbini!

    How much would a license cost? I'm envisioning a hideous NPA-amakudari-sponsored boondoggle in which school kids are sent to a training course and failed again and again for trivial reasons, just like drivers, while the licensing centers' and testing centers' revenue rolls in.

    Would there be eyesight restrictions? You need eyesight of 0.6 to drive a car, but a bicycle can be ridden at 10-15 km/h with much worse eyesight than that. At that speed nobody's going to die in a collision no matter what your vision is like. If the automobile eyesight rules are imported in toto to a cyclist-licensing system, many visually-impaired people who already suffer from not being able to use a car will lose their primary mode of transportation.

    How will visitors to Tokyo, and foreign tourists, legally rice bicycles in the city? It's not like there will be some kind of reciprocal license recognition system, because 99.9% of the world doesn't require a license to ride a bike!

    And finally, while the crazy messenger types who zigzag in and out of traffic certainly stand out, bicycles in general just aren't all that dangerous compared to automobiles. Even the worst, most ignorant cycling habits won't kill anyone, like an automobile can. Even bicycle-pedestrian collisions are often caused by one or the other of them avoiding an automobile. Do a thought experiment: how many fatalities would there be on the roads if the roads were open only to pedestrians and cyclists? Zero? Danger begins and ends with those multi-ton, metal-armored cars, and the people who sometimes put others in danger are doing so because they're avoiding dangerous automobiles.

    Ultimately the number-one rule of the road, whether you're walking, on a bike, or in a motor vehicle, is to pay attention. If the police and government care about safety, they should be accosting the school kids and grandmothers who walk across streets with their heads buried in their keitai e-mail, or stopping right in the middle of the sidewalk to look at a sign, or standing in the middle of the sidewalk bowing to someone who's being driven away in a taxi, or any number of other dangerous activities whose common point is inattention to one's surroundings.

    The responsible cyclist who pedals at a moderate speed, pays attention to traffic lights, and releases zero pollution should be lionized in this age of setsuden and eco-everything. Leave them alone, Tokyo government, and focus on the real problems.

  • 2

    Michael Craig

    The Tokyo Metropolitan Government has gotten way too corrupt and should be disbanded!!

  • 4

    AiserX

    There are some dolts here whom actually believe their lives are in danger because of a cyclist. I would rather get hit by a bike as opposed to a car. Bikers should be allowed to bike where they want without the need of a license or some BS competence test. It's actually an authoritarian view from those on this thread where the logic is basically this, " You all need to e collectively examined, screen and forced to pay a fee before you ca ride this product." The use of coercive force via Govt to get things done will almost always make things worse and lead to backlash. The end result is a less free society.

  • 1

    Isthiezak

    Are you sure that it was the cyclist fault? I commute to work and I have had three close calls with doors in the last two years In all three cases, the person opened the door with out looking.

    True, I can't be 100% sure what happened, but if you try to overtake a parked taxi on the inside, you're asking for trouble. If it had been a door on the opposite side (towards the middle of the road), then it would more likely have been the passenger's fault.

    tokyo has plenty of other pressing issues to deal with...don't they?

    People get injured and even die in bicycle accidents. Is that not pressing?

  • 1

    Isthiezak

    ThonTaddeo: You make a lot of good points, but I think you underestimate how dangerous bicycle accidents are. People do die and get seriously injured in bicycle accidents. Two main reasons being:

    a) the first point of collision with a bicycle as opposed to a car is the wheel, which greatly increases the change of injury despite a bicycle's smaller size and lower speed. This is especially dangerous for small children and elderly people.

    b) when falling from a biycle, the rider's head has a high probability of hitting the ground or other objects with great force. This would be mitigated by wearing helmets, but I can see that being even harder to enforce here than licence plates would be.

  • 0

    Eric Schneider

    I wouldn't ride a bicycle in Tokyo anyway but I don't see how any of this is going to help anybody unless it's the Tokyo government's bank account.

  • 2

    Ch1n4Sailor

    One proposed a system of mandatory registration, including the affixing of a license plate

    What planet are these people from...? Are they even members of the human race...? These are some of the most ridiculous ideas I've ever heard.

  • 2

    FightingViking

    @Harry_Gatto

    Funny, recently when I posted much the same idea, I was thumbed down several times... Maybe the bicycle riders haven't checked out this article yet ?

  • 0

    edbardoe

    Should be able to employ a few hundred more folks sucking up the private sector taxpayers' money to handle the paperwork. I wonder where the tipping point is when there will be no more private taxpayers to pay the goverment employees salaries and their taxes too!

  • 1

    CarbonLayup

    I am heavily involved in cycling here in Japan, having ridden and raced here for over 7 years.

    As an experienced and law abiding cyclist, I can certainly say that I am pretty much in favour of any system that attempts to control the average cyclist in Japan.

    On a daily basis, I see things which make me cringe, whilst out on my bike. I ride from morning to night, in all weather, and by far the worst offenders on the roads are the cyclists. Sure, there are cars who come past too close, or pull out on me without looking, but as an experienced rider I get angry, but not killed.

    The cyclists on the other hand, reading their phones, earphones in, up the wrong side of the road, pulling out without looking, and generally being utterly pathetic on a bike, really REALLY winds me up.

    Bring it on, I say. Nothing they can throw at me to test my skills are going to stop me riding. I just know for a fact though, that if they enforce things correctly, there will be a hell of a lot less dick heads on the road getting in my way.

  • 0

    fds

    Here's an idea -- ENFORCE TRAFFIC LAWS! Both for bicycles AND buses.

    and add pedestrians to that! actually what they have to do is stop protecting motorcycles, bikes, pedestrians from liability when they don't obey traffic laws. right now cars have liability even if the motorcycle/bike/pedestrian was clearly not obeying traffic law.

  • 0

    Ranger_Miffy2

    OK, who is "Weekly Playboy" ? Part of the Hefner Bunny Empire? They often do serious investigative reporting. Not sure why they would work on this micro-level.

    Looks like another scheme to soak people for money. To help pay off TEPCO's compensation package/Fukushima npp losses/ who knows what?

    I've lived in small towns that had bike license plates. No way this is going to work in the big megapolis.

    Oh, and a lot of times, I ride against traffic because the sidewalk (when it exists) is full of clueless pedestrians looking at their media players/phones instead of where they are the heck walking! Makes riding snugly against the curb on the street away from them much safer!

  • 1

    Jack Stern

    Interesting, "the dirty look" which bicycle riders who almost run into you one way or another give you. As a frequent car driver, one young lady actually crossed in front of my car without looking and I almost hit her. Lucky for her my braking was fast. But that didn't stop her from that "look" after I blew my horn. Number plates and other forms won't deter dumb bycycle riders here, It's better education about rinding and that's another story.

  • 0

    gogogo

    If I was going to snatch a purse on a bike or dump a stolen bike the first thing I would do is remove the plate, how the hell is this going to solve anything?

    Seems to me there are far greater problems to handle, but I guess these people just want to handle the easy jobs.

  • -1

    lostrune2

    If even Manhattan and its cars and cabs can have bike lanes, it can be done anywhere.

  • 0

    kcjapan

    Radio Frequency Identification (RFID) mapping might be the answer.

    Embedded transmitting, similar to product ID transmitters, could easily be implemented without customer participation except through a universal tax at sale. Short of cutting the bike apart to locate or disable the transmitter, identification of the bike would be permanent.

    If public buses and riders are threatened by cyclists, a passive reader would snapshot the offenders' cycle via RFID. The same passive readers could be used at every traffic light to map auto and cycle traffic to provide an exact replica of accident scenes.

    Auto dumping of data would protect privacy concerns and permanent records from incidents would be retained.

    With 640,000 new cycles sold each year, a 1000JPY would yield 640,000,000JPY per year. Since the system is automated, searchable and self policing a RFID based enforcement system might provide an unobtrusive back up when injured and innocent participants cannot identify actual traffic criminals.

  • 0

    Fadamor

    Growing numbers of public buses are equipped with cameras, and by requiring bicycles to affix license plates measuring 5 by 15 centimeters—whose numbers would be large enough for the cameras to record—it is argued that determining the causes of these accidents would be facilitated.

    If that's the argument being presented, then someone has been smoking something strange. Reading a license plate does aboslutely NOTHING towards "determining the cause of an accident". All it does is identify who purchased the license plate. There's no guarantee that the license plate belongs on that particular bike in the first place. It could have been stolen from someone else's bike by someone who didn't want to pay the licensing fee.

  • 1

    kurisupisu

    Have a mandatory bike test requiring a practical and common sense questions....

  • 1

    BertieWooster

    lostrune2-san

    If even Manhattan and its cars and cabs can have bike lanes, it can be done anywhere.

    I can't think of any city in Japan wide enough to have bike lanes.

    Can you?

  • 0

    It"S ME

    Bertie.

    All new roads now need to feature bike lanes. They are widening roads in my town to cater for them, includes removing/reducing some properties. Those lanes are usually physically separated from traffic and pedestrian walkways.

    Can provide photographic evidence from my and neighbouring towns.

  • -1

    BertieWooster

    owenfinn-san,

    Time to start removing car lanes in cities then.

    You have a point, but unfortunately it's not up to me.

  • 1

    BertieWooster

    It"S ME-san,

    All new roads now need to feature bike lanes. They are widening roads in my town to cater for them, includes removing/reducing some properties. Those lanes are usually physically separated from traffic and pedestrian walkways.

    Gosh!

    Certainly not in Okinawa, anywhere!

    They haven't really made much provision for bicycles in Japan, have they?

    I can see that making special bicycle lanes in Tohoku and Hokkaido wouldn't be a very good idea. I mean, have you ever tried to ride a bicycle on ice?

    I have. And I've still got the bruises to prove it!

    I don't think it would be a bad idea if Japanese people were taught some road sense at school. It seems to me that rules for bicycles consist of:

    A. Find an empty space (anywhere OK, right, left, centre of the road, right pavement/left pavement, all OK)

    B. Move into it.

    C. If you can't find an empty space, ring your bell until someone makes one for you.

    What we need in Okinawa is a public transport system. Most people don't want to drive, but there's no alternative. Let's face it, it's too hot to ride a bicycle. They have buses, but they are huge, ancient and the routes are only comprehensible to someone who has worked in the bus company for 25 years. Lots of minibuses and no fare or 10 yen would do it. Colour coded so that people can easily grasp where they are going. A red minibus goes North to South, a green minibus goes East to West, and so on. Costs will be borne by Tokyo. It's the least they can do as we (indirectly) are protecting them from the yellow peril, etc.

  • 0

    Probie

    Another proposed payment of a deposit to be collected at the time of purchase.

    When would you get the "deposit" back? If you don't, it's not a "deposit", is it, it's a tax or whatever.

  • 1

    Probie

    I can see that making special bicycle lanes in Tohoku and Hokkaido wouldn't be a very good idea. I mean, have you ever tried to ride a bicycle on ice?

    If you'd ever been to Hokkaido, you'd know that Sapporo at least, has a lot of heated roads.

  • 0

    Wakarimasen

    Cyclists act like they are pedestrians. No concept of riding safely or within the rules. Licence plates will not reduce bicycle accidents or crime.

  • 0

    BertieWooster

    Probie-san,

    If you'd ever been to Hokkaido, you'd know that Sapporo at least, has a lot of heated roads.

    I have. I lived in Hokkaido for fifteen years, Chuo-ku, S20 and S15.

    There are heated roads, and as long as your route takes you through them, there is no problem. There are also a lot of UNHEATED roads. Did you ever try negotiating Tonden dori in the winter on a bicycle?

    Not much fun - especially if you're a tub like me with a high centre of gravity!

  • 0

    tmarie

    **I can't think of any city in Japan wide enough to have bike lanes.

    Can you?**

    Nagoya. Kobe. Sapporo. Hiroshima. All grid designed with wide main roads.

  • -1

    BertieWooster

    tmarie-san,

    I've been to, but never lived in Nagoya, Kobe and Hiroshima, but I have lived in Sapporo, as stated above.

    For six months of the year it has wide roads.

    And then it starts to snow.

    Unless things have radically altered, they pile up the snow on the edges of the roads, effectively reducing the width of the roads by one lane either side. And then, as I pointed out, for several months, many of the roads are covered with ice and are not much fun on two wheels.

    At the same time, there are some really nice cycling roads. There was one I used a lot in the warmer weather, going East from Sapporo City to Kita Hiroshima.

    I wonder if anyone has been brave enough to ride a bicycle in Otaru in the winter.

    Otaru's hilly, like San Francisco and has no road heating.

  • 0

    tmarie

    Bertie, I don't think many bikers need the bike lands in winter in Sapporo but in the summer? Indeed!

    The other cities could use them all year - they have the room. They just don't have the inclination to do anything. Like I said, reactive rather than proactive.

  • 0

    blue_monday

    With the Tokyo government involved you can be sure this scheme will cost money not make it.

    Adding plates to bicycles is not about safety, it is more of the creep towards surveillance 24/7. The Japanese citizens will not accept an ID Card, so the state is looking for alternative ways to monitor people.

  • 0

    BertieWooster

    tmarie-san,

    Bertie, I don't think many bikers need the bike lands in winter in Sapporo but in the summer? Indeed!

    Quite!

    So, why go to the bother of preparing special bike lanes? There are not that many cyclists in Sapporo anyway.

    The other cities could use them all year - they have the room. They just don't have the inclination to do anything. Like I said, reactive rather than proactive.

    Sure, those that have the space should do something, I agree. I also agree wholeheartedly about the reactive part! Don't they! Robots!

    Comes from all this rote memory - programming - that they laughingly call "education."

    Whatever!

  • 0

    tmarie

    Bertie, because it is an issue for those who do bike? Bike lanes would mean more bikers which is better for the environment, better for health... Why not? They don't cost that much money - and it isn't like the city doesn't have a yak construction incentive.

  • 0

    Laz Brezer

    Certainly we should encourage environmentally friendly bicycling. I've found that there are invariably safe and almost car free side roads that I can take to get almost anywhere. Even if it takes a few extra minutes to reach my destination, that's more than compensated for by the absence of diesel fumes and reduced stress.

  • -1

    bjones

    Can anyone point me to a website showing the Japanese hand signals? For example:

    http://www.be-safe.org/css_com/bicycle/rules.html

    http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Hand_signals

  • 0

    Serrano

    Today I saw a female cop attempt to chase down a guy riding his bike with his girl standing behind him with her feet on convenient short metal poles protruding from the rear hub, and her hands on his shoulders, she gave up the chase after 2 blocks, ha ha!

  • 0

    James Fisher

    Alright I admit that I abandoned two bicycles in 1980. One was left at Akihabara Station and one was left at the Yokohama Station. I did un-lock both of them and left the keys hanging on the handle bars in hopes that someone would "borrow" them. I am sorry, had there been a disposal fee at the purchase point I would have happily paid it. They served me well during my 5 years in Yokosuka.

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