It has now been 2 years since I came to Japan. One area where I felt the cultural difference was with “bicycles”. (I come from South Korea). I saw people of all ages and genders riding bicycles in their daily lives, and felt that Japan was like a kingdom of bicycles. Furthermore, by riding a bicycle in my everyday life, I understood that there were many rules regarding their use. Therefore, this time I would like to introduce the rules for cycling in Japan- the kingdom of bicycles- for those like me who may not have normally cycled back in their home country, or for those for whom the rules differ to those in their culture.
Firstly, the main premise of these rules is that bicycles are the same as cars. For those of you who ride bicycles, please don’t forget that a bicycle is a type of vehicle, and thus always be careful to give pedestrians the right of way when you cycle!
I will now explain some of the rules: 1) as bicycles are the same as cars, it is forbidden to drink alcohol and then cycle. Furthermore, 2) Cycling side by side and 3) More than one person on the same bicycle, is prohibited. Even if you wish to stay close together, make sure to leave a safe distance between bicycles. 4) Cycling with an umbrella and 5) using a cell phone whilst cycling is dangerous, so please refrain from doing it. Umbrella stands are not against the law, however if it’s windy then it will become difficult to cycle so I recommend a raincoat. 6) Once it becomes dark you must turn on your bicycle light. Finally, 7) cycling with headphones is prohibited.
Let’s all keep the rules of cycling, and look out for each other’s safety. For more detailed information please look at the following link from the Kochi Police Website, as well as Article 63 of the Road Traffic Act.
Han Jeong Gyu, Kochi Kencho CIR