Up ahead there were two bicycles heading in my direction so I moved to the left as is customary when riding on the sidewalk in Japan. After adjusting my course I noticed the lead rider up ahead wobble, swerve, glance off a wall on his left then connect hard with the railing on his right before meeting the pavement in a most ungraceful manner. He went down hard. A loud noise, limbs everywhere.
There are a lot of elderly people on shopping bikes pottering around Tokyo and witnessing them topple over isn't an uncommon site. So when I saw the middle aged lady following simply swerve around the accident site and continue on her way I was stunned, no offer of assistance? Not even an "Are you OK?" Nope, she just rode on without a second glance.
Upon reaching the downed rider I discovered a Japanese man in his 30's, not the senior citizen I was expecting. "Are you OK?" I enquired. From his slurred response I deduced he responded "No I'm not %$&! OK". I also deduced that the cause of his accident had a lot to do with the level of alcohol in his bloodstream.
Great. What to do? Can't ride away from an accident. There isn't a lot I can do for a paralytic drunk who is unable to walk and will most likely puke on my shoes by way of thanks. What to do?
There was no blood, he was feeling no pain, nor the cold and after a few moments of the "I've fallen and can't get up" routine he seemed quite content to simply be lying down.
So, I did the only thing I could and doubled back to the local koban to informed the police officer of what had happened. I've visited the local koban twice in my capacity as a responsible citizen and neither time felt that my effort was appreciated. No questions, no note taking, no sense of urgency, no thanks. Why did I bother? Oh well at least the drunk in the street was no longer my responsibility, he was now the responsibility of this disinterested policeman.
Therefore moral of today's story is:
That's right. As I was leaving the koban the police officer told me to remove the groceries from my handlebars as it is against the law to hang items from your handlebars while riding. Thanks Jack, I knew that. I'd just never seen it enforced in 12 years, in particular never seen it enforced on a person after they've gone out of their way to help another citizen.
After all that excitement I rode home, shopping dangling from the handlebars, and enjoyed a responsible beverage. Later I slept content in the knowledge that neither my rogue shopping bag nor responsible beverage caused any accidents.