Cycling to work (or indeed anywhere) safely - help me out

adventurous cyclist

turtle speed cyclist
May 16, 2019
311
277
83
66
Ube -shi, Yamaguchi-ken

adventurous cyclist

turtle speed cyclist
May 16, 2019
311
277
83
66
Ube -shi, Yamaguchi-ken
My wife has a joint credit card (again Rakuten). (By the way, in my previous post auto correct was overzealous and misspelt Rakuten.)
OK, thanks. Tried to send a PM, but... to ask questions about it.
 
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adventurous cyclist

turtle speed cyclist
May 16, 2019
311
277
83
66
Ube -shi, Yamaguchi-ken
I haven't received a PM. Can you try and send one again?
It seems like it won't take your name. So I couldn't go any further on the PM. Maybe you can have another member PM you and see if it works or not.
 

blimp

Cruising
Aug 7, 2018
3
1
13
44
Although already mentioned, the most stupid piece of traffic law is the law that you have to be close to the left-hand kerb. This makes it extremely dangerous in those circumstances where you have dedicated left-turn lanes and you want to go straight. There is an intersection near Yasukuni Shrine where you even have two dedicated left-turn lanes.

As also mentioned, the law says that you are not allowed to ride on the pavement. However, there are exceptions, if you are below 13 or above 70 years old, and it is dangerous to ride on the street/road. What is dangerous is decided by the rider. It is also quite common that there are signs that you are indeed allowed to ride you bike on the pavement, usually with the addition of 歩行者優先. So in the end, unfortunately, there are actually not that many pavements that you are not allowed to ride.

One problem is unfortunately also the non-enforcement of the law. Just yesterday, there was a taxi stopping/waiting on the zebra crossing in a big intersection. This forces traffic, including bike riders to overtake with plenty of traffic coming from behind. In this particular case there was a police officer standing 50 cm from the taxi doing fuck all about it. Needless to say, I felt compelled to shout at the police officer in no uncertain that she should do her job. When she pretending it was raining, I went back and asked why she didn't do anything to which she answered that the taxi wasn't standing still for too long. I asked her if the law for waiting/stopping talks about 短期 or 長期 which she reluctantly admitted it didn't, and then she said that she will fine the driver next time. Like *+`> she will!

Riding would be so much safer if the law was just implemented properly, fining drivers for waiting and parking at the side of the street/road. Japan also ought to implement more non-waiting zones.
 
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theBlob

Bokeh master
Sep 28, 2011
2,926
1,552
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...
I don’t agree with this at all. Japan is a crowded place. The police operate as part of the community not in opposition to them. If the taxi was stopped for a few seconds big deal.
The last thing you or anyone else wants is a police force that feels it’s their job to “police” what is basically a law abiding and tolerant society.

You want them to act on your behalf, well that wouldn’t be to others behalf. So what if he stopped to let someone off and you had to wait. It’s very typical of western people to only consider their own personal rights. Like the world only revolves around their own self importance. Running around and telling the police how you think they should behave is just ignorant and arrogant.


Although already mentioned, the most stupid piece of traffic law is the law that you have to be close to the left-hand kerb. This makes it extremely dangerous in those circumstances where you have dedicated left-turn lanes and you want to go straight. There is an intersection near Yasukuni Shrine where you even have two dedicated left-turn lanes.

As also mentioned, the law says that you are not allowed to ride on the pavement. However, there are exceptions, if you are below 13 or above 70 years old, and it is dangerous to ride on the street/road. What is dangerous is decided by the rider. It is also quite common that there are signs that you are indeed allowed to ride you bike on the pavement, usually with the addition of 歩行者優先. So in the end, unfortunately, there are actually not that many pavements that you are not allowed to ride.

One problem is unfortunately also the non-enforcement of the law. Just yesterday, there was a taxi stopping/waiting on the zebra crossing in a big intersection. This forces traffic, including bike riders to overtake with plenty of traffic coming from behind. In this particular case there was a police officer standing 50 cm from the taxi doing fuck all about it. Needless to say, I felt compelled to shout at the police officer in no uncertain that she should do her job. When she pretending it was raining, I went back and asked why she didn't do anything to which she answered that the taxi wasn't standing still for too long. I asked her if the law for waiting/stopping talks about 短期 or 長期 which she reluctantly admitted it didn't, and then she said that she will fine the driver next time. Like *+`> she will!

Riding would be so much safer if the law was just implemented properly, fining drivers for waiting and parking at the side of the street/road. Japan also ought to implement more non-waiting zones.
 

Kangaeroo

Maximum Pace
Jan 24, 2018
470
514
113
63
One problem is unfortunately also the non-enforcement of the law....Riding would be so much safer if the law was just implemented properly, fining drivers for waiting and parking at the side of the street/road. Japan also ought to implement more non-waiting zones.
To be really honest, I'm kinda glad they don't do that. I was reading last week about how someone in Straya was fined over $400 for riding through a red light.
Japan is filled with enough officiousness to have the bloody cops joining in, too, I reckon. All in all, I think I'm better off with cops being laxer than if they suddenly became vigilant.
 

wexford

Maximum Pace
Jul 3, 2012
1,174
823
133
Tokyo
Probably the only thing I want the cops to do is to pull cyclists over at night time if they have no lights, give them a lecture and let them on their way. Sometimes driving home its hard to see a lot of folks who are not well lit up even on a clear night in the city. Yesterday, I actually forgot my rear light on my commute. Great excuse to leave work early and get home to play with the kids in daylight. Getting a bit hot for jeans and a t-shirt. I guess it's time to start wearing shorts to work again.
 

Joe McCarthy

Maximum Pace
I'm a bit late to this thread and there's been a lot posted already but I thought I'd leave a link to the official Japan Cycling Handbook published in English by the government. If you read it you'll notice that there's a lot in there that doesn't really match up to the reality of riding in Tokyo but I find it's nice to know what the 'official' position on a lot of stuff is. It's also quite a nicely designed booklet that you could potentially give out to people attending the talk.

http://cycling-embassy.jp/handbook/
 

Half-Fast Mike

Lanterne Rouge-et-vert
May 22, 2007
3,936
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Kawasaki
halffastcycling.com
not sure how official that actually is
Not official at all. It's Byron ('Tokyo By Bike') Kidd, and his photographer friends. Well meaning, and possibly useful, but not official at all.

I might just summon the self-styled Cycling Ambassador to give the talk himself.
 

blimp

Cruising
Aug 7, 2018
3
1
13
44
I don’t agree with this at all. Japan is a crowded place. The police operate as part of the community not in opposition to them. If the taxi was stopped for a few seconds big deal.
The last thing you or anyone else wants is a police force that feels it’s their job to “police” what is basically a law abiding and tolerant society.

You want them to act on your behalf, well that wouldn’t be to others behalf. So what if he stopped to let someone off and you had to wait. It’s very typical of western people to only consider their own personal rights. Like the world only revolves around their own self importance. Running around and telling the police how you think they should behave is just ignorant and arrogant.
On my behalf? You are aware that it is illegal to stop/wait five metres away from an intersection, hence the driver of the taxi is not law abiding. In this particular case the no-waiting zone is also extended some extra ten metres. So all I am asking is that the police enforce the existing legislation that is often there to protect others. You are no seriously suggesting that I am stop behind the taxi, meaning inside the intersection. What is convenient for the taxi driver is unfortunately dangerous for me. You don't think that is worth protecting?
https://www.google.com/maps/@35.6954735,139.7511756,124m/data=!3m1!1e3
 

theBlob

Bokeh master
Sep 28, 2011
2,926
1,552
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...
It wasn’t dangerous to you. He wasn’t moving. You can stop and wait in perfect safety for the 60 seconds it takes to unload. Or you could move around him being alert and looking out for your own safety like a normal adult.

For years I’ve watched people running a turn right lane right in front of a koban on my daily commute. And the cops never do anything about it. Even when they have been sitting on the corner. Yet they are pulling people over down at the next intersection. Why is this?
Well, they understand that the turn right lane is notoriously jammed up and pulling people over there would only further clog traffic at the busy intersection and make things less safe than just letting people get on with it. They work for the good of all in ignoring the rule breaking because booking people would serve no value for the community.

So what to do about this flagrant law breaking? Run into the koban and tell them the law and demand action? Ha ha ha it’s laughable.

Or make sure before you pull out despite the green light always be sure what the flow of traffic is and get on with it. Just like every other Japanese person whose country this is.
 

blimp

Cruising
Aug 7, 2018
3
1
13
44
It wasn’t dangerous to you. He wasn’t moving. You can stop and wait in perfect safety for the 60 seconds it takes to unload. Or you could move around him being alert and looking out for your own safety like a normal adult.

For years I’ve watched people running a turn right lane right in front of a koban on my daily commute. And the cops never do anything about it. Even when they have been sitting on the corner. Yet they are pulling people over down at the next intersection. Why is this?
Well, they understand that the turn right lane is notoriously jammed up and pulling people over there would only further clog traffic at the busy intersection and make things less safe than just letting people get on with it. They work for the good of all in ignoring the rule breaking because booking people would serve no value for the community.

So what to do about this flagrant law breaking? Run into the koban and tell them the law and demand action? Ha ha ha it’s laughable.

Or make sure before you pull out despite the green light always be sure what the flow of traffic is and get on with it. Just like every other Japanese person whose country this is.
I take for granted that I haven't explained myself properly since you talk about clogging up traffic. The taxi comes from my right, turning a right into the most left lane. From the north turning west looking at the map that linked. He stops in the left lane right on top of the zebra crossing. He is the one clogging up traffic and no one else and as there was no one in front of him. If I am to stop behind him, I will be standing inside the intersection. There is no way for me to know that he will indeed stop there as he also ran a red light, hence I had already taken off before he stopped.
 

Joe McCarthy

Maximum Pace
I felt compelled to shout at the police officer in no uncertain that she should do her job."
Now come on. This is never a good idea. I've dealt with police in Japan a few times from random bike checks to a mistake I made driving in Tokyo last summer and it must be said that the police tend to be very courteous and polite. Don't be a dick and start shouting at them even if you feel they're not doing their job properly. It's uncalled for. I could understand if you were angry in the moment. Cycling can often feel adversarial and most of us have let that get the better of us at times, but you brought up this story as if you had every right to shout at her. Realistically, as theBlob said, you likely wen't in danger from getting stuck behind a taxi.

Incidentally, I disagree with the idea that the taxi driver wasn't causing any harm. I would also be annoyed if a taxi stopped up on a crossing and if you'd calmly spoken to the police about it then I'd be right with you, and they may even have listened to you. Taxis are a big cause of congestion in Tokyo and other cities and they don't provide a useful service to most people because of their cost. The average effective occupancy of a taxi is about 0.8 because they spend a lot of time driving around with no passengers in them. They stop illegally in inconvenient places (like you described) far more often than any other road users including buses, delivery drivers and even disabled access vehicles that actually provide a useful service. I truly believe that if taxis weren't primarily used by politicians and business people then they would've been legislated out of existence in a lot of places by now. It's a real problem, but definitely not one solved by foreigners shouting at police.
 
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MattRyuu

Maximum Pace
Apr 23, 2019
235
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On the subject of laws not being enforced, I find it ironic that in a country that appears pre-occupied with order and rule following ("The nail standing up gets hammered down" is a poor translation of a saying told to youngsters here to get them to be part of the hive), there are so many exceptions. The bike laws appear to be written with this in mind, e.g., ride on the road, unless of course you feel its not safe. Don't ride your bicycle after alcoholic consumption, unless of course you are really old, and then erratic/drunken behavior is completely acceptable and no one will pay you any mind except the newly uninitiated gaikokujin. Don't ride on the back of a bicycle sitting on the luggage rack or rear tire, unless of course you are in middle or high school, and then you get a completely free pass, even while riding directly in front of the Koban stalls. Keep your kids safe, unless of course you're putting an infant directly over the front tire, a second infant in a baby carrier on your chest, a third infant and maybe fourth infant on two children's bicycle seats behind you, with a bag of heavy groceries balanced on each handlebar and riding your mamachari through a red light. Don't stand in the street blocking traffic, unless of course you have just lost/won a baseball game and your entire team decides to park their bikes directly in a transit lane blocking both directions of all people trying to get through, leaving the baseball field, stands, benches, etc. completely empty....
 

Kangaeroo

Maximum Pace
Jan 24, 2018
470
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On the subject of laws not being enforced, I find it ironic that in a country that appears pre-occupied with order and rule following ("The nail standing up gets hammered down" is a poor translation of a saying told to youngsters here to get them to be part of the hive), there are so many exceptions. The bike laws appear to be written with this in mind, e.g., ride on the road, unless of course you feel its not safe. Don't ride your bicycle after alcoholic consumption, unless of course you are really old, and then erratic/drunken behavior is completely acceptable and no one will pay you any mind except the newly uninitiated gaikokujin. Don't ride on the back of a bicycle sitting on the luggage rack or rear tire, unless of course you are in middle or high school, and then you get a completely free pass, even while riding directly in front of the Koban stalls. Keep your kids safe, unless of course you're putting an infant directly over the front tire, a second infant in a baby carrier on your chest, a third infant and maybe fourth infant on two children's bicycle seats behind you, with a bag of heavy groceries balanced on each handlebar and riding your mamachari through a red light. Don't stand in the street blocking traffic, unless of course you have just lost/won a baseball game and your entire team decides to park their bikes directly in a transit lane blocking both directions of all people trying to get through, leaving the baseball field, stands, benches, etc. completely empty....
This is what I love about Japan and has kept me here for decades.
 

theBlob

Bokeh master
Sep 28, 2011
2,926
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There are laws and there is policing. For the good of the community at large, and the police’s role within it, the two don’t always converge.
This is a positive not a negative because for the most part people don’t need to be harassed for doing the things you mentioned. Living their life as they choose without harming others.

Japan is on the tighter end of the enforcement/self enforcement scale of policing in Asia. Try going to almost any of the other south East Asian countries and take to the roads. You’ll be in the police station shouting at them on a corner by corner basis.

FFS this isn’t The police state we live in back in ameraustragland. So time to get over the cultural arrogance and look around and adopt to your surroundings just as you might expect people to do in your own country.

Try going to Australia where they set a up speed traps all over where they can bust people for doing nothing. All justified because “that’s the law”. F@&k that. I’ll take the attitude here any day over that corrupt police state shit.


On the subject of laws not being enforced, I find it ironic that in a country that appears pre-occupied with order and rule following ("The nail standing up gets hammered down" is a poor translation of a saying told to youngsters here to get them to be part of the hive), there are so many exceptions. The bike laws appear to be written with this in mind, e.g., ride on the road, unless of course you feel its not safe. Don't ride your bicycle after alcoholic consumption, unless of course you are really old, and then erratic/drunken behavior is completely acceptable and no one will pay you any mind except the newly uninitiated gaikokujin. Don't ride on the back of a bicycle sitting on the luggage rack or rear tire, unless of course you are in middle or high school, and then you get a completely free pass, even while riding directly in front of the Koban stalls. Keep your kids safe, unless of course you're putting an infant directly over the front tire, a second infant in a baby carrier on your chest, a third infant and maybe fourth infant on two children's bicycle seats behind you, with a bag of heavy groceries balanced on each handlebar and riding your mamachari through a red light. Don't stand in the street blocking traffic, unless of course you have just lost/won a baseball game and your entire team decides to park their bikes directly in a transit lane blocking both directions of all people trying to get through, leaving the baseball field, stands, benches, etc. completely empty....
 

Joe McCarthy

Maximum Pace
Try going to Australia where they set a up speed traps all over where they can bust people for doing nothing
The evidence is pretty clear that both lowering speed limits and enforcing existing speed limits have a positive effect on the number of deaths on the road from collisions, so I can't agree with you that they're "doing nothing". Everyone has a competence bias and thinks they can go faster or drive more agressively than other people and the ones with the biggest bias are the ones that end up ploughing into pedestrians and cyclists.
 

theBlob

Bokeh master
Sep 28, 2011
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Well, it depends where you are setting up your speed trap doesn’t it. In my experience speed trap locations have very little to do with accident reduction.

The evidence is pretty clear that both lowering speed limits and enforcing existing speed limits have a positive effect on the number of deaths on the road from collisions, so I can't agree with you that they're "doing nothing". Everyone has a competence bias and thinks they can go faster or drive more agressively than other people and the ones with the biggest bias are the ones that end up ploughing into pedestrians and cyclists.