Why is it okay to cycle with an umbrella?

First of all, the Japanese are (like the rest of us, or possibly more) not as “law-abiding” as they are “social norm abiding”. Cycling holding an umbrella certainly has the critical mass of people doing it that makes it perfectly okay to do so, even in front of exactly the same policeman outside his koban (police box) who shouted at me last week for crossing an empty one-way street when the pedestrian light was red.

One factor is that breaking the law and ignoring safety seems to particularly go together with bicycles in Japan. There are plenty of laws which are broken all the time, such as the (almost unknown) one against cycling on the pavement. Then there are laws which seem to have scant regard for the safety of cyclists, such as it being okay to cycle the wrong way down a one-way street. Then there are the ones that are broken and protested against until they have to go back on them, like the attempt to stop mothers cycling along with two small children on their bikes. Very few cycling helmets here either.

I also wonder whether waterproof trousers here has a really blue collar connection. Alternatively, there seems to be a real division between sports cycling and practical cycling, with no equipment but umbrella okay being very much the latter.

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