by Ewa Nowogorski
Bicycle parking violations are just one of the frequently broken laws here in Japan. There are many more to discuss.
Of course, in any country, there are rules. Some rules are understandable, and some just don’t make sense. Some should never be broken, and some are constantly violated, but no one seems to care.
The first one worth mentioning is biking on the sidewalks. Technically not allowed, but literally everyone does it, and the police don’t care. Only unless there are numerous signs telling you to get off your bike and push it, you can generally bike anywhere, street or sidewalk. In America, bicycle rules are more strictly enforced because not too many people ride their bikes and violators are fewer. So if you ride on the sidewalk, you will get looks of anger from passersby.
Another ignored rule in Japan is stopping at stop signs and intersections where there is no traffic light. Bicycles are considered “small vehicles” under law and are supposed to stop at designated locations just like a car, but most bikers will ignore the rule. This can be dangerous as most streets in Tokyo are hard to see with sidewalks so narrow and buildings so physically close to the street, blocking the view of cars and other incoming bicycles.
Biking while having headphones in your ears and holding an umbrella with one hand are 2 more rules that Japan has but its people often violate. Although, recently, there have been quite a few high profile accidents that involved a biker violating these rules, so police are starting to enforce them more.
I think one thing to remember is that people are not perfect and they will occasionally break rules. Some rules can be broken under certain circumstances when conditions are safe enough to allow so, but in Japan, and especially Tokyo, you should always be mindful of those around you.