Why don’t Japanese cyclists obey the rules?

I keep on coming back to this question, because there seems to be such a change between Japanese on foot, on two wheels and on four. For example, cyclists jumping red lights where pedestrians and motorists never would, cycling with umbrellas, ignoring one-way signs on streets, and protests against changing a law against more than one child seat.

I wonder whether cycling became  popular during a chaotic period in Japanese period like Taisho or just after WWII.

Much more on this topic by clicking on the Japanese cyclists category above.

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Why does everyone ride mama chari shopping bikes? 4th attempt

Although this is a lot less true than even a year ago, it’s still quite striking coming from the UK where a male would probably have to cycle through a hail of jeers on the typical Japanese bike. Here’s an explanation I hadn’t come across before:

“It is illegal to ride a bike on which you cannot touch the ground when mounted (this is one of the things that the police check when registering your bike).”

Japan For Kids pg 23

Why is it okay for a man to ride a shopping bike? Second attempt

Or indeed for a trendy teenage male to be on a “mama chari”?

I just noticed that there are in fact some gender differences when I saw a man on an electric bike with a baby seat and realised that I’d never seen such a thing in Japan before. I think the big difference between practical cycling and sports cycling that I mentioned in the last post might also be a factor.

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.

Things people in Japan are surprisingly slack about

– Crushing cans
 
– Recycling paper
 
– Take the caps and labels off plastic bottles for recycling
 
– Bicycle road safety (helmets rare, signalling when turning a corner unheard of, no children’s road safety in schools as far as I know, many bikes without headlights, no reflectors, little use of brightly coloured clothing to be noticed in the dark)

– Having brightly coloured cars to increase safety

Whereas Japan must be a world leader in dividing rubbish into burnable and unburnable and escalator safety announcements. Any theories on why the things above have escaped public attention??

Why is normal to see cyclists crossing a pedestrian crossing on red, but much rarer to see a pedestrian do the same thing?

My personal theory is that being a pedestrian is being part of a group and so the usual Japanese social pressure to conform exists, whereas the route, speed etc of cycling is totally individual and therefore you are totally free. As a pedestrian in Japan, it is also possible to switch off totally just by following the person in front, so jumping the lights or even looking at them can just seem like a pain.