Riding a Bicycle with Good Manners

Amrita: Hello.

Vegetable shop owner: Hello, Amrita-san. What can I get for you today?

Amrita: I would like to have those apples, a cabbage, and some carrots please.

Vegetable shop owner: Thank you, as always. You have lots to carry home now.

Amrita: I know. I am thinking about getting a bicycle to use for shopping. It seems like many people here ride bikes to get around...I see many of them parked on the street as well.

Vegetable shop owner: Those bikes parked on the street have been causing a major issue for us because they block traffic. There is a decent parking lot for bicycles over there, but people don't use it and just leave their bikes here because it is closer to the station.

Amrita: They are taking up space on the street and are making it hard for pedestrians to walk.

Vegetable shop owner: They could block a passage of fire trucks in case of fire. Since things are becoming serious these days, we now have traffic control officers occasionally patrolling the area.

Amrita: So is parking bikes in the street against the law?

Vegetable shop owner: In the designated no-parking zones, yes. The patrol officer may leave a warning ticket on the bike's handles or may remove the bikes from the site. But whether you are in a no-parking zone or not, it is always good manners to avoid parking your bike in a place that could block traffic.

Amrita: You are right. Unlike driving a car, we don't need a license to ride a bicycle. Anyone can ride it at anytime and anywhere.

Vegetable shop owner: Indeed, but we all should know the rules and understand how to ride the bike safely.

< Safety rules for riding a bicycle >
  • On the street, always ride on the left side.
  • On the sidewalk (where permitted), always ride on the side that is closer to the street. Always yield to pedestrians.
  • Do not ride a bicycle when drunk.
  • Do not ride a bicycle in tandem with another passenger (riding with one child under age 6 is permitted).
  • It is prohibited to ride side by side with another bicycle.
  • Keep the light on when riding at night.
  • Always follow the traffic lights.
  • Always stop at intersections to confirm the traffic is clear.
Vegetable shop owner: The traffic law defines bicycles as a type of vehicle and requires riders to follow these traffic rules.

Amrita: I did not know that riding a bike when drunk is illegal.

Vegetable shop owner: If you violate these rules, you get penalties as well.

Amrita: What would the penalties be like?

Vegetable shop owner: For example, if you drink and ride a bicycle, you will be sentenced to jail for up to 5 years or will be fined as much as one million yen. You can learn detailed information about the penalties at the Metropolitan Police Department's website above.

Amrita: Riding the bike with someone else is also against the law, right?

Vegetable shop owner: Yes, but it is OK to ride with your child since yours is still small and is younger than six years old.

Amrita: I just remembered that I once got in a very dangerous situation with the bike.

Vegetable shop owner: What happened?

Amrita: I was walking at night and was almost hit by a bicycle, which was speeding so wildly and suddenly dashed out from the dark. I managed to avoid it and didn't get hurt, fortunately.

Vegetable shop owner: You could have been injured badly if you had been hit by that bike.

Amrita: If the bike had turned the light on, I would have been better aware of its approaching.

Vegetable shop owner: Right. For your safety, here are some tips you might want to remember as well although these rules are not required by law or won't bring penalties for violations.

< Riding a bicycle with manners >
  • Do not use a cell phone while riding a bicycle.
  • Do not use an umbrella while riding a bicycle.
  • Children under age 13 should wear a helmet when riding a bicycle.
  • Avoid parking bicycles in no-parking zones and other areas that can be hazardous
Amrita: I can see how dangerous it could be to ride a bike while talking on the phone or listening to music.

Vegetable shop owner: Those electronic gadgets could distract your attention away from safety.

Amrita: I think they both make it difficult to hear surrounding noises.

Vegetable shop owner: You should never ride a bike with one hand while holding an umbrella on the other. Wearing a helmet is also important for young kids, since head injury is the most common injury from bike accidents among children. Once your child gets older and starts riding a bicycle by herself, make sure she wears protective gear all the time.

Amrita: I will do that. Thank you for your helpful advice.

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