Important things to remember when biking in Japan
We have written an introduction about the biking culture here in Japan. Now to continue about this topic, let’s talk about the dos and donts and the rules when it comes to cycling your way around Japan.
Someday soon, I would definitely own a mamachari. You know that bike with a step-through frame design and a front basket that we often see in Japanese anime and drama? Yes, that’s the one.
In Japan where biking is a culture, almost everyone got that and I’d get one for myself, too. If you’re the type who find joy in cycling around, you would love to get one, too.
However, let’s forget about owning a mamachari for now, and instead focus on what we need to know about the things we shouldn’t do when biking in Japan.
The right lane is always left
First thing first, do not bike on the right lane. Remember that bicycles, like other road vehicles in Japan, travel on the left side of the road. Keep left all the time, except when you see a sign that allows you to bike on the right side of the road.
The sidewalks are often for walking
Do not ride bicycles at the sidewalk. Leave the footpaths for those who enjoy long walks, unless you see signages saying you are allowed to pass by or cross with pedestrian. Remember to always give way to pedestrians and avoid harassing them in one way or another.
The light, reflector and bell
If you buy a mamachari or whatever kind of bicycle, do not forget to buy a light, a reflector and a bell. Never travel around with your bike without a light in front of it, a reflector in its rear, and a bell.
The police registration is a must
Do not miss to register your bicycle with your local police. Yes, in Japan, even your bicycles are registered. Apparently, even in a first world city like Tokyo, sometimes bicycles are stolen for whatever reason.
Do not ignore signs that in most cases you will see in crossroads, underpasses, overpasses, and freeways. Remembering these signs and knowing what they mean will save lives.
The traffic laws
Do not break traffic rules and regulations in Japan. Aside from these reminders above, make sure you know what local policies are in placed in your area. I stayed in Tokyo for only a few days, but one of the things I figured is the fact that anywhere I go, police officers are visible in koban or police kiosks/station. I figured that aside from dealing with crimes, Japan’s police force is also aggressive in the enforcement of traffic laws. You can’t just get away that easy if you try to break cycling rules, and ignorance of these laws, as always, isn’t an excuse either. Either you’ll get a one-time warning or spend a lot of money in fines.
Two more things to remember, do not try to bike in tandem when your bicycle is only designed for one person because it is against the law. Do not use your phone, or even listen to music with your earphone, when cycling.
Do not forget these and you will surely enjoy your biking life when you live in Japan. Have a safe drive!