Japanese officialdom has once again got a bee in its bonnet about bicycle safety despite a decrease in the number of fatal bicycle accidents.
Since stricter policing of bicycle laws began in January this year over 4,000 people have been issued warnings for such offences as ignoring traffic signals, riding without brakes, cycling while holding umbrellas, mobile phones or cycling with headphones. (That's right issues warnings, not fined, not arrested, just had their bicycle ride interrupted by an irate police officer who gives them a slap on the wrist and sends them on their way.)
Now someone at the "Department of Wasting Public Money on Stupid Ideas" has come up with the proposal that unruly cyclists should be forced to attend cycling safety programs in order to improve their manners.
Recently we've seen the monthly police crackdown on cyclists in Tokyo, the proposal of a compulsory bicycle number plate system, and now forced bicycle retraining programs for cyclists deemed to have bad cycling manners (however bad manners are defined). What have cyclists done to raise the ire of the police and local government that causes the to think up such idiotic and expensive schemes?
If police really want cyclists to improve their manners they have to start enforcing the law, not once a month with huge numbers of police on the street setting up roadblocks to check cyclists, but every single day as a part of their daily duty. Hit cyclists with fines if they're breaking the law and you'll soon see an improvement in cyclist behaviour.
Until the police do their job cyclists will not change their ways and officials will continue to dream up expensive schemes to try and make cyclists ride safer.
The solution is simple, and doesn't need a new scheme, just enforce the law.