April 11, 2012

In February the Tokyo Metropolitan Police Department announced that they would be out in force on the 10th of each month cracking down on commuter cyclists flaunting the (until then, rarely enforced) cycling laws, and promoting bicycle safety.

This caused a media storm and really put bicycle safety into mainstream media.  On February 10th an army of police were out on the streets stopping and warning cyclists for such violations as cycling while using a mobile phone, cycling with headphones, ignoring traffic rules and riding bicycles with no brakes.  To me it seemed a little sensationalist and heavy handed, but Japanese cyclists really do need a firm reminder that there are rules and manners that must be observed when sharing your cycling space with cars and pedestrians.

To our amusement the March crackdown did not eventuate as it rained heavily on the scheduled day of the crackdown.  Maybe the police thought cyclist numbers would be down in such bad weather, but surely they could have warned thousands about cycling while holding umbrellas.

Yesterday, April 10, was the third month of the scheduled crackdown on commuter cyclists, and once again the police were nowhere to be seen despite the lovely spring weather and the usual cycling mayhem ensued.  Have the police given up?  Was it a one time media stunt? For serious commuters there is always a feeling to use extra caution around the 10th of the month, but for people without an eye on the media and the goings on at the police department February's crackdown is long forgotten and they've returned to the bard cycling habits they've always displayed.

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