Tokyo police to remove over 10,000 bicycle crossings

Byron Kidd

The Metropolitan Police Department has decided to remove over 10,000 bicycle crossings from Tokyo intersections by 2014 to encourage cyclists to use streets.

In Tokyo there are around 15,000 bicycle crossings separating pedestrians from cyclists. Police have judged that removal of the crossings is necessary to discourage cyclists from riding on sidewalks.

Cyclists are required to use crossing lanes when they are present. Installation of the lanes began in 1978 with an amendment to the Road Traffic Law. Partly because at the time, bicycle traffic on sidewalks was permitted, many bicycle crossing lanes extend from one sidewalk to another.

Cyclists using roads now have to veer left into the crossing lanes, then veer right when they move from the crossing lane back onto the road, but it has been pointed out that this increases the chances of cars turning left at intersections to run into bicycles. If the crossing lanes were removed, bicycles could continue straight on the road when crossing.

Crossings will be retained on sidewalks designated to allow bicycle traffic. Police will later make a final decision on which crossings to remove.

"We want to quickly start removal so that bicycles can travel roads safely," a Metropolitan Police Department representative said.

On May 17, the department announced that 5,685 accidents involving bicycles occurred in Tokyo from January to April, 12 percent fewer than during the same period last year. There were 20 percent fewer accidents on sidewalks and 23 percent fewer at intersections, but accidents on the road increased by 7 percent. As to whether the changes were due to the department's announcement that cyclists must generally ride on the street, a traffic affairs department official said, "More analysis is needed."

There were 897 cases in which cyclists were stopped by police during the period for ignoring traffic signals or failing to maintain their bicycles -- about two times the 450 cases recorded during the same period last year.


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  1. wtf, I don't understand why the cops are so adamant about this. I feel like cycling on the sidewalk is so entrenched here as a part of daily life that these efforts aren't going to make a difference. I don't want to ride on the street alone because it feels dangerous. The roads tend to be pretty narrow.

  2. Really one of the main reasons cycling is so widespread in Japan is because (until now) cycling on the sidewalk has been widely accepted. Mothers carrying children, the elderly, and youngsters can all get around safely b bicycle.

    It seems the police are hell bent on putting this cyclists in danger by removing sidewalk infrastructure and forcing them to use the road without providing any additional infrastructure.

    The police may remove the crossings, but they will not enforce the law (just like now) so all we will see is people riding on the sidewalk and mingling with pedestrians at crossings putting everyone in more danger.

    If by some miracle the police to crack down on this then we'll see less and less people cycling. But remember what happened when the police tried to ban cycling with two children .. mothers refused to comply and the police were forced to back down.

    Sidewalk cycling is indeed entrenched in Japanese cycling culture, and cycling is such a vital means of transport for so many. If the police ban sidewalk cycling without providing a viable alternative nobody will comply with the law.

    I'm angry about this stupidity having just read the article half an hour ago so excuse my jumbled comment.

  3. Has it occurred to the police that the reason why accidents are down compared to last year is that last year there was a sudden book in cycling due to the earthquake?

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