Here Are the Rules You Must Follow When Riding Bicycles in Japan

About 20% of all traffic accidents are related to the bicycle.

You already know how easy it is to get around Japan. Whether it’s by public transport such as train or bus or by bike. But before you get into one, it is always best to know the basic rules and laws for your safety. In Japan, about 20% of all traffic accidents are related to the bicycle. We don’t want you to be part of that statistic, so read on to familiarize yourself with the rules for riding a bicycle in Japan.

Ride on designated paths.

Designated paths differ per area, so you just have to be attentive on the signs on where you can ride. Remember to ride on the left side of the roadway, and not on the sidewalk.

Usually, there is a designated lane for bicycles.

Bicycles are defined as “mini-vehicles” under the Road Traffic Law, so it is a basic rule to ride on the bicycle lane when you see one. However, there are exemptions when bicycles can pass on the sidewalk in such cases as:

(1) When the road signs or markers show that you can.

(2) When the rider is a child under 13 years old, an elderly over 70 years old, or a person with a disability.

(3) When it is difficult to pass the road, for example, because of roadworks, parking on the streets, heavy traffic, and when it’s too narrow.

Keep left.

Japan has left-hand traffic, meaning cars drive on the left side of the road and the driver’s side is on the right side of the car. You should always stay on the left and ride in the traffic direction.

Watch for the bike lane signs on the road.

On sidewalks, yield to pedestrians and go slowly.

When on the sidewalk, you should ride on the side close to the roadway and run slowly. You must also prioritize the pedestrians.

Give way to pedestrians.

Did you know that it is also against the rules to ring the bicycle bell to make a pedestrian give way to you? You must wait and take it slow.

Observe the safety rules.

No double riding
. You can only ride double if the person is a child under six years old and must be seated on a child seat attached to the bicycle.

No side-by-side cycling
. Give way to pedestrians or other fellow cyclists and just ride in a single file.

No drunk cycling
. This must go without saying, but same with driving a car, do not ride when you’re drunk. 


Turn your lights ON
. The soonest it gets dark or when you find yourself in a dark area, make sure to always turn your lights on.

Don’t beat the red light

Stop at any intersection.
You don’t want to be surprised by any pedestrian or upcoming car, so best if you check from left to right before you proceed.

Children must wear helmets.

As a guardian, you must instruct a child under 13 years old to wear a helmet whether you’re riding double with the child or they’re riding on their own.

Apart from the five mentioned above, there were incidents frequently caused by the following:

? Cycling while using a smartphone or mobile phone

? Cycling while holding an umbrella 

? Cycling  while listening to music with earphones or headphones

Though there are so many rules, remember that these are made for your safety and the people around you, so it is best to take a mental note of these.

National Police Agency’s website 

 (21 November 2019)

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