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Bicycle Rules, Are You Observing Them?

Somchai is an exchange student from Thailand who is attending a Japanese university. At a university bicycle-parking area, he runs into Tsubasa, a classmate of his.

Bicycle Rules, Are You Observing Them?

Tsubasa

Hello there, Somchai. I see you are also commuting by bike!

Somchai

Yes, I started to do so recently. Gee Tsubasa, what a cool bike you have.

Tsubasa

I am somebody who likes bikes; I’m also part of a circle of friends who go cycling together. I say, what about joining us for a ride next weekend?

Somchai

Thanks very much, I’d really like to go with you, however, I am still not that accustomed to riding my bike. Back in Bangkok, I didn’t really have much of an opportunity to ride. Indeed, when I was riding my bike just a couple of moments ago, somebody I passed warned me to take more care. They shouted, “That’s dangerous! Obey the rules!” When they shouted, I was riding on the verge of the road, and I was also not traveling that fast. I wonder what was wrong.

Tsubasa

Perhaps you were riding in the right-hand strip on the verge of the road which is set aside for oncoming pedestrians? Or perhaps you were correctly riding on the left-hand side but were nevertheless obstructing the movement of pedestrians?

Somchai

Yes, perhaps that was the case. I should point out that I don’t really understand Japan’s traffic rules.

Tsubasa

That can’t be helped I suppose, because you’ve only just arrived here. On the National Police Agency (NPA) website there are “TRAFFIC SAFETY GUIDELINES” posted to explain Japan’s traffic rules to foreign nationals; it would be good to take a look at them. They offer detailed explanations of the rules to observe when cycling as well as various cautions.

Tsubasa goes on to talk about the importance of observing the rules when cycling.

Tsubasa

Bikes are great in that anybody can easily ride them without a license. However, within law they are considered to be a “companion of motor vehicles.” If you cycle without observing the rules, major accidents cannot be avoided. Unfortunately, however, many people ride bikes in a dangerous manner that can result in accidents. Accordingly, from June this year there will be a crackdown on dangerous rule-breaking behavior when riding bicycles. If such rules are broken, the offenders will have to participate in the mandatory “Cyclist Training Program”.

Somchai

What, for example, would be considered dangerous rule-breaking behavior?

Tsubasa

Just a moment ago I mentioned obstructing the passage of pedestrians by riding in the strip on the verge of the road. Other behaviors would be ignoring traffic lights, entering level crossings on railway lines after the barriers have come down, and riding while intoxicated, etc. In all, 14 acts have been established as dangerous behaviors. Cyclists who are caught twice or more within three years engaging in such behaviors will have to participate in the mandatory “Cyclist Training Program”.

Somchai

I see, in that such a program is necessary just indicates how many people are riding bicycles dangerously. I’m going to make a point of enjoying riding my bike while putting safety at the forefront of my mind. A first step in doing that is using the guide you just mentioned to learn about the traffic rules.

Tsubasa

If you read the “TRAFFIC SAFETY GUIDELINES” but still don’t understand, please feel free to ask me at any time.

Somchai

I certainly will. Thanks very much!