Cycling in Japan and Bicycle Accident

Cycling rules for cycling in Japan

Bicycles are categorized into “light vehicles” and treated as vehicles under the Road Traffic Act. For bike accident prevention, the cycling rules in Japan are established, and if you breach any of them, you will be punished. So when you ride bicycle, you have to be careful as same as you drive a car.

Bicycles are light vehicles, so, as a general cycling rule, cyclists must pass on the left side of roadways. However, they can use walkways in the following exceptional cases:

  • When there is a road sign that allows them to do.
  • When the cyclist is a child at the age of 13 or younger, or a senior person at the age of 70  or older, or a disabled person.
  • When there is any obstacle (e.g. parking car) that prevents them from using the roadway. When cyclists use a walkway, they must ride slowly on the side near the roadway, and let pedestrians go first.

Drunk cycling in Japan is prohibited

  • If you ride on a bicycle under influence of alcohol, according to the cycling rule, you may be punished by five-year imprisonment or a fine of one million yen at maximum

Cycling double on a bicycle is prohibited

  • Cycling double on a bicycle in Japan is prohibited (except with one child whose age is six or younger)

Do not cycling side by side

  • Cycling side by side prohibited in Japan

Be sure to turn on the light at night

  • When you have to ride a bicycle at night, please be sure to turn on your bicycle light for your safety

Other cycling rules:

  • Do not cycling while operating a cell phone.
  • Do not cycling with your ears covered with earphones or headphones of a portable music player, etc.
  • Do not cycling while holding an umbers in rainy days. if you need to ride a bicycle in the rain, use a raincoat instead.
  • Before you turn a corner or proceed to a wide road from a small lane, be sure to slow down or stop.
  • If you are found by a police officer to have breached any of traffic rules, he/she would not accept your excuse “you are ignorant of the rules.”

Most of all, you will be held responsible for significant liability if you cause any bike accident and injure someone. So you need to be extremely careful for cycling in Japan.

Metropolitan Police Department “Prevention of Traffic Accident by Cyclists”


Bike Accident

If you have caused bike accident or are involved with an accident as a victim, take the following measures:

Take or give a first-aid

Check the severity of your or victim’s injury, and when it is severe, call an ambulance (#119)

Report the police of the accident

Call the police (#110)

If you fail to notify the police of the accident, you will not be able to have a traffic accident certificate issued that is necessary for insurance claim.

Confirm the name, address and contact information of the other party of the accident

If you are covered by insurance, notify the insurance company of the accident

If you have got injured, be sure to consult a doctor later, even if it is not severe.

In addition, consult  you Japanese acquaintance (an instructor or office clerk of your school or a colleague of your company) on the settlement of the matter.

Other Crime Preventions

Bike Registration

When you buy a bicycle, register it and when you are given a bicycle, change the registration

When you buy a bicycle, you must “register” it  to certify that it is yours just in case of theft.

You can make the bike registration at the bike shop you have bought it. If you are given a bicycle by your friend, etc., confirm if the bicycle has been registered or not.

If it has been registered, ask the previous owner to issue a “Certification of Transfer” (stating that the relevant bicycle is given to you by him/her) and then present it with your Alien Registration Card to the shop for the procedure of registration change.

Do not take any abandoned bicycle

You may frequently find bicycles that are left for many days  near a station or on a corner of a town. They may look still usable but you must not take any of them for your use at your own judgment.

As described earlier, bicycles are controlled under the bike registration system. If your bicycle is checked by a police officer, and the bicycle is found to have been taken without any permission, you may be held on a charge of embezzlement.

Parking your bicycle in a designated area

If you park you bicycle in any other place than those designated as bicycle-parking areas, it may be removed as an “illegally parked bicycle.”

If you want to take back the removed bicycle, you must go to a specified place in person and pay some fee.

Be sure to park your bicycle in a designated area.