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A Traffic Question


Maximum Pace
Dec 3, 2010
OK, I ride to the hospital several times a week, I'm dealing with some post operative crap after my cancer surgery.

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I ride through this intersection on the way home, this is route 20, at Gaien Nishi. I cannot go straight through the tunnel, I do not wish to go left down Gaien Nishi, I want to go right, to "Shinjuku Station", but not hard right to Tomihisacho. Can I go into the lane that is going to Shinjuku Station and just flow with the traffic, or will the boys in blue get on my butt? I ask because there are ALWAYS cops here now, since the new Korean cultural center was built nearby, and always I see the Shiro-bi cops pulling over scooter trash here.

I'm not sure on the law for bicycles, anyone know?
Now I stop at the corner, and use the crosswalk to cross to the right, then the crosswalk to go straight through, takes time and is a pain.

I don't know for certain, so I am only speaking from what I have experienced, but I have never been stopped for doing similar. This doesn't mean it is not illegal though!

I am not sure if it was on this board, or another Japan related forum, but I seem to remember a post about someone being stopped for turning right in a similar situation.

Hopefully someone else can suggest something more concrete than my vague response.

Sorry to hear about the cancer too. Hopefully you are on the mend.
My wife has just been doing her driving theory test and she was telling me that if the road has 3 lanes or more you are not supposed to turn right as a cyclist or scooter from the right lane - you are supposed to use the zebra crossings. Why did she have to tell me that! There is usually a sign to look for that tells the scooters what to do and you should follow suit. Simple guess, is that if the cops are pulling up the scooters they will pull you up as well. You could always try asking them what you should do to be sure.

Using the crossing is a pain but I think that is the legal requirement. Plus, if you had an accident and you were technically doing an illegal manoeuvre I don`t know where you would stand.
I've been using the crosswalk on this part too just because the flow of traffic on the right (assuming I am near the kerb on the left most side) is sometimes fast and I can't merge safely without endangering my ass or enraging the driver behind me.

I think there's a post here about that.
Maybe you're talking about this thread:
I'm not sure on the law for bicycles, anyone know?
Yes. This is another one of those PITA junctions. Essentially, bicycles are supposed to be in the left hand gutter. Of course this particular spot has police buses forcing us out to lane 2+.

Generally at this junction I try to time my approach from Yotsuya 3-chome to merge with the lane 4 traffic as they get the right-turn filter. There's often a cop on the opposite corner island; although they admonish me vigorously with their whistles, they've not tried to stop me. Yet.

I could be stopped and fined for this. Bad gaijin. Naughty gaijin.

For info, here's the Tokyo Met Police page on bicycle rules. Right turns are towards the bottom. Basically...


Yeah. Right.

--HF Mike--
Hahahahahahahaha...... well i guess points equal prizes.

I break the law twice a day by the looks of it! :D
Speaking from first hand experience there ---

1) 2.5hr dress down by the motorcycle cop for riding on an unallowed section of the roadway. Apparently that short - maybe what 100m? Is considered for cars only - and he 'obliged me' to use the cross walk (right - then left, then right again) under his watchful gaze.

2) Made it like 50x after that with no incident - though, if there's motorcyle cop, I usually just go straight and then through the small walk path to the park road. However, its oftentimes gated before 9am.

3) Got caught again - about 2 weeks ago. 30 min dress down and officer was also very unhappy that I was riding a 'piste' bike with no brakes... though I DID have front brake mounted. Again - under watchful gaze had to WALK my bike out of his eyesight before riding. Grrrr...

Since I've been stopped there a couple times by the cops directly, I'd say that it is technically illegal in their eyes - however, the max risk just seems to be a dressing down.
Thanks for the info guys, it looks like I'm going to keep using the crosswalks, or I'll find another route.

1) 2.5hr dress down by the motorcycle cop for riding on an unallowed section of the roadway.
Two and a half hours? 150 minutes? That's just greedy, Tim. You must have not learned the art of sumimasen. It translates as "I don't think I've done anything terribly wrong but I'm going to say this word until you shut up and let me go."

I think this StreetView deftly sums up the barely-controlled chaos of the junction in question.

Accelerate to 40 kph, close your eyes, both arms in the air and shout BANZAI!!


Although not widely advertised this, the Korean Culture Centre is acting as the Korean Embassy while they're doing rebuilding works at the Embassy site in Mita. Hence the riot police battle buses and general brown-trousered behaviour. Once that's done and they move the ambo back, things should settle down.

--HF Mike--
awesome photo.... Cyclist in wrong lane, two bike cops looking in the wrong direction.
What's the problem here? Just take the tunnel:rolleyes:

Seriously though, except one time I did take the tunnel (coming from the Shinjuku side) and had two foot cops chasing me for a bit, I never ran into problems at said crossing.

I used to ride just like you did coming from Yotsuya and my buddy does so every day with a fixed gear and one brake only. No problems so far. Of course it is better to time things and flow with the cars instead of waiting for the green light. Just press your luck, don't try to stare the cops down and ride safe enough.

I tried the polite route once, but like Tim said, the gate for the shortcut path through to Shinjuku-gyoen is closed randomly.
Timing it with the flow is a good option. Otherwise you are stuck like a sitting duck within arm's grasp of the cops. Hard to ignore them when they grab your saddle! @Mike - ur absolutely right, though, the last time was cut way down when I used some basic NLP to divert the Cop's thought train to another topic (his English ability). I am curious though - do Cops here actually write citations? What are the infractions of this sort considered? In California (LA), bicycle infractions were considered misdemeanours - which meant a court appearance! I heard that recently they've downgraded this to simple infraction that is dealt by citation (pay a fine).
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