What happens when a bicycle meets a car.

This is a picture of me after a ride to work one morning. It was taken with a very special camera.



Fukuoka bans bike-riding on shopping street

Week 1: New rules observed.
A crowded section of a popular Fukuoka shopping street is off-limits to bike riders during peak hours, with riders being asked to walk their bikes through the area.The municipal government designated the section Monday as the first no-rider zone in the country. The city has seen more than 3,000 bicycle-related accidents a year since 1998, accounting for roughly 25 percent of all traffic accidents.

Reckless riding is generally considered the cause of the relatively high accident rate.The street is in the crowded Tenjin district, where the ban covers a stretch about 400 meters long. No one is allowed to ride there between 8 a.m. and 7 p.m. Monday to Friday, and 10 a.m. to 7 p.m. on weekends and holidays.

The city based the rule on an ordinance covering bicycle safety that took effect Monday. There is no penalty for violations.

“There are so many bicycles here and I have been almost hit by them,” said Sanae Kunisaki, 70, who often walks to a nearby swimming pool. Noriko Yoshida, 68, who works part time and commutes by bicycle, said “I may have to change my commute route because pushing my bicycle takes time.”

Week 2. New rules ignored.

Just one week after the introduction of this cycling ban a survey has revealed that 22 % of cyclists ignore the ban.  The photo to the left shows how quickly things have returned to "normal" once he road safety campaigners leave the site.

It is common in Japan for new "bans" tor "laws" to be put in place that have no penalties.  In the past these rules were largely observed, but people and society are changing and these kinds of unenforced laws, with no penalties, are now largely ignored.

If people had the common sense to recognise an area where cycling amongst pedestrians is dangerous and take an alternate route these expensive and ineffective campaigns would not be needed.



Troublesome cycling speed limit on Arakawa river to be scrapped

A 20 kph speed limit for a road along the Arakawa river in Tokyo will be scrapped by as early as July after being deemed too slow for cyclists and not slow enough for pedestrians.

Both cyclists and pedestrians have complained about the speed limit, which was implemented in April 2010 by the Land, Infrastructure, Transport and Tourism Ministry.

The restriction applies to about 30 kilometers of the 94-kilometer road along the river, which connects Tokyo Bay and Kumagaya, Saitama Prefecture.

The limit was an attempt to protect pedestrians on the downstream portion of the parklike road, which is not subject to the Road Traffic Law. However, as it is not legally binding, police have no authority to enforce it.

The riverside road attracts many cyclists, who have dubbed it the Arakawa cycling road. But several accidents are caused each year by reckless cyclists who speed into pedestrians.

Although cyclists would be required to obey the speed limit under the road law, riverside roads are legally considered to be open space and about 64 kilometers of the downstream section of the road is controlled by the ministry as a river management facility.

As the road has also been designated for emergency use, it can be utilized for disaster-relief activities and transporting emergency relief vehicles.

In an attempt to improve the situation, the ministry's Arakawa-Karyu River Office and municipalities near the river have set up a working group to study pedestrian rules.

The group eventually decided on the 20 kph speed limit as it was considered the fastest speed at which cyclists could immediately stop.

However, the limit proved unpopular. Pedestrians claimed the limit was not slow enough and demanded it be lowered to 10 kph. On the other hand, cyclists complained the limit was too slow, saying, "We can't get anywhere at such a slow speed," and "Is there any basis for this figure?"

Frustration over the matter has been mounting on both sides. In one instance, an affiliate of a boys baseball team became very upset with the number of cyclists who ignored the speed limit and decided to block off the road with cones, almost causing an accident.

The office then concluded the conflict should not be allowed to intensify any further. It plans to change its policy to appeal to cyclists' conscience, stipulating they should "yield to pedestrians" in its new rule.

The new policy seems counter to the current trend of strengthening cycling regulations.

If cycling etiquette does not improve and incidents continue to occur, the ministry's office plans to set a speed limit under the Road Traffic Law by giving control of the road over to the Tokyo metropolitan government or ward offices.

"We'll create new rules under the perspective that mutual understanding is necessary to ease the conflict between pedestrians and cyclists," said Masaki Hatano, who heads the office.

Meanwhile, Shigeki Kobayashi, administrative director of the nonprofit organization Bicycle Usage Promotion Study Group, said he had doubts about the effectiveness of a speed limit without police control.

"The government has to admit that congestion near rivers and parks is now inevitable as the number of cyclists increases every year. To prevent accidents, they should prepare separate roads for pedestrians and bicycles," he said.

[Yusuke Tsuruta / The Yomiuri Shimbun]