Here’s what has changed with Japan’s new cycling laws

ByJason Gatewood
Jul 01, 2020

Here’s what has changed with Japan’s new cycling laws

You’ll be forgiven for thinking that many of the bicycling laws you may have grown up within your home country are heavily enforced in Japan as well since there is more bicycling traffic here than most other places in the world, but the reality is starkly different. While there are laws in place that theoretically prohibit actions such as riding on the wrong side of the street against traffic or dipping around stopped cars waiting on traffic lights at intersections (effectively running said stoplight themselves,) the enforcement and penalties were lax. However this will change after June 30, 2020, when new reckless driving laws go into effect.

What are the laws?

  • Riding against traffic
  • Menacing pedestrians and other traffic (ringing bell incessantly, harassing, etc)
  • Ignoring traffic signs and rules (not stopping at stoplights, not giving way to emergency vehicles, etc.)
  • Failure to give way to pedestrians.
  • Unnecessary braking, generally speaking, any laws pertaining to road traffic also apply to cyclists. This also means obeying speed limits, traffic flows and driving – er, biking under the influence.

How to cycle safely in Japan

Just use common sense and Japan is a wonderful place to bike in most cases as many of us use bikes as regular transport. If you find yourself commuting most days by bicycle, it would behoove you to take out cycle insurance so, in the event of an accident, you’re covered. Most convenience stores sell policies for cyclists, and certain cities and towns in Japan have insurance mandates; inquire at your local city hall, police station, or bicycle shop for details.

More Bicycle related articles

Bicycle Liability Insurance

Get Cycling in Tokyo

Cycle Routes Near Nagoya

The Best Bike Rides Around Kansai

Photo by Joi Ito ($200 generic bikes) [CC BY 2.0], via Wikimedia Commons

About the author

Jason Gatewood subscriber

Our Tokyo based collaborator is a tech nerd, Japanophile, train nut, and a veritable fountain of information on Japan. His current goal is to watch Evangelion and actually "get it", sing every permutation of "Hotel California" at any karaoke gathering, ride every bullet train line, and sample all varieties of ramen throughout Japan. Catch more of his musings at ·