21 October 2013

Bicycle-Pedestrian Accidents in Japan

I opened up a local English language paper on Saturday morning and was surprised to see a FULL PAGE devoted to the issue of bicycle-pedestrian accidents.   It highlighted a recent court judgment awarding 95 million yen (almost $1 million) to an elderly lady now comatose as a result of head injuries from a bicycle accident in which she was struck by a 5th grade boy zooming down a hill and around a corner.  The boys parents were held legally responsible -- nothing unusual for other countries such as the U.S. or Europe, but a high verdict for Japan.  The article also notes that there were 5 pedestrians killed in 2012 in Japan by cyclists.

An online version of the article is here.

The article was not directly anti-cyclist in tone, and highlighted educational efforts, the need for bike lanes, etc. so that people can continue to cycle without threatening pedestrians.  I could not agree more.  Indeed, I used to ride out the Tamagawa bike path, but now stick to the parallel streets on most stretches since I would rather not be in potential conflict with pedestrians (or other cyclists).

And only last week did someone recount to me the story of a cyclist who was riding around the area near Jingu Stadium and passed through a red light, misjudged the progress of an elderly pedestrian and ended up knocking him down (with a resultant serious injury).  Unforgiveable.

But I also could not help but wonder, where is the full page article highlighting each cyclist who is the victim in an accident with an automobile, truck or motorcycle?

A quick check of the Tokyo Metropolitan Police statistics page revealed that yes, there were more than a few cyclists killed in 2012.  Indeed, 563 killed in traffic accidents nationwide, of whom 34 died within Tokyo.

Where are the newspaper articles highlighting their fates?   How may were injured and lie sick or comatose?

And what is this? 1634 pedestrians were killed in traffic accidents in 2012 in Japan.  Presumably 1629 of these were caused by vehicles other than bicycles ... as opposed to 5 caused by cyclists.
Maybe the bicycle-pedestrian accident was newsworthy because such accidents are, indeed, so rare?

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