Riding a bicycle, 自転車 jitensha, might be not a big deal in many countries, in Japan instead we have rules to follow.
Here we go:
- Register! Buying a bicycle, you have to properly register it with the 警視庁 keishichô, Tokyo Metropolitan Police Department – ask the bike shop or go to a police box, 交番 kôban.
- Better enter an insurance! Accidents are not only hurtful but expensive too!
- Wear a helmet even if nobody seems to do it!
- Get to the bike shops for inspections, they even let you use the air compressor!
- Have functioning lights at least at the front and back!
- Drive safely and obey the rules – by law you are not supposed to ride on the sidewalk!
- If you buy a bicycle from or sell one to a private person, make sure that you write and sign a paper as a prove and go to a police box close to your home, re-registering the bicycle to your own name.
- Stay on the correct side! In Japan we have left-hand traffic!
- Never ride tandem on one bike, never wear headphones or use your smart phone or hold an umbrella while riding! (Again, don’t do as the wrongdoers do!)
- Don’t drink and drive!
- Never ever take an old bike you think of being abandoned and ride on it – if the police catches you, it will be dealt with as theft. That thing did belong to somebody once.
If you buy a new bicycle in a bike shop, you will receive paperwork to register it and the seal above will be placed on your bike right away. It contains a number, a QR-code, as well as the name of the area you register in. In my case 向島 Mukôjima. Since the process does take some time, you should keep the receipt for the registration in your wallet, my bike shop man has advised me.
- Better leave your bike in designated areas only!
- Always take care of elderly people and mothers with kids on bikes. They are the majority.
- Don’t speed too much! Especially in living areas there are always people, especially children coming out of buildings.
- Learn the meaning of the traffic signs!
Even more detailed about rules and even fines you can read here.
Happy cycling everybody! Stay safe! 🙂