MARINE CORPS AIR STATION IWAKUNI, Japan -- The rules of the roads for riding bicycles off base in Japan are something any Marine Corps Air Station Iwakuni resident with a bike should already know.
For those who are not aware, here are the 14 safety violations that police will stop a bicycle rider for:
Ignoring traffic lights
- Crossing railroads while gates are down
- Failure to obey no-passage instructions
- Failure to reduce speed while riding on sidewalks
- Violating traffic-zone regulations
- Obstructing pedestrians on the side of the road
- Obstructing pedestrians on sidewalks
- Obstructing vehicles with right of way at crossroads
- Obstructing vehicles when making a right turn
- Unsafe cycling caused by use of cell phones or headphones while riding
- Riding while drunk
- Failure to observe safety rules at roundabouts
- Failure to stop at a stop sign
- Riding a bicycle without working breaks
According to 1st Lt. Timothy M. Keane, the Japanese Jurisdiction Officer with the Staff Judge Advocate's Office, it is especially important to reiterate these rules to station residents because new people move in all the time and they need to know these rules to keep themselves out of trouble.
“A bike provides a phenomenal way to get out and explore the local areas, but a bicycle also presents unique hazards, especially when riding in an environment where rules and the language are different,” said Keane. “Cyclists need to ensure they understand what the rules are and how they help keep drivers, pedestrians, and cyclists safe.”
These rules are not in reality new, but the local Japanese government is reinforcing them.
Recently, the government noticed a rise in the number of bicycle related fatalities, injuries and accidents. Due to this, there was a revision to the Japanese Road Traffic Law effective June 1, 2015.
If a bicyclist is ticketed twice in a three-year time period they will be required to attend a safety class. The class is a three-hour lecture with a ¥5,700 course fee. If the cyclist refuses to attend the class he/she can be fined up to ¥50,000.
This new law applies to all bicycle riders in Japan, foreign and domestic, and should be taken seriously.