Bicycle Safety Leaflets Distributed in Japanese Schools

Byron Kidd
As the weather in Japan improves the number of children taking to their bikes for the first time, or those rediscovering them after a long cold winter, increases dramatically.  Pre-empting this increase in young cyclists the Tokyo Metropolitan Police Department have distributed a colorful 8 page bicycle safety leaflet to schools.

The leaflet covers basic bicycle safety including a pre ride safety check list, basic road rules, and generally accepted courteous behavior when riding in an environment shared with pedestrians.

There aren't too many points in the leaflet I take issue with.  But the space take up telling kids not to ride side by side (which I don't see as a problem if you're in control of your bike and not causing a obstruction) could have been better spent advising kids to pick a line and stick to it rather than weaving all over the place which is a habit that continues to adulthood.

It advises children to wear a helmet when cycling, and in all the cartoon like illustrations the children are wearing helmets but no the adults.  This reflects the generally accepted view that bicycle helmets are like training wheels, once you've got the hang of cycling you can safely ditch both.

In addition to the pamphlet I've recently noticed trucks with cycling safety billboards on the back, blasting out bicycle safety messages on a loud speaker doing the rounds of Suginami-ku at least.  While I  praise the effort in raising awareness of bicycle safety issues I can't help but think the execution of the plan is a little misguided.

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