Biking Do's and Don't's

If you are living in Japan you will most likely own a bike. Why? Free parking (probably the only way you will ever get free parking), no traffic and no paying for fuel. The most popular bike in Japan is affectionately called the mama-chan, as it has a cute little basket on the front, very convenient for groceries or a backpack. There is also a place on the back to strap down another bag or box if you wish. Your other bike choices are a road bike, mountain bike, or the equivalent of a bmx bike which I like to refer to as clown bikes, because they have disproportionately small wheels. It never ceases to amuze me when I see a business man riding one of these, which happens more often than you would think.

Now that you have your bike selected, you may need to brush up on your road rules. Let's have a quick review of the biking rules.

  • Ride on the left side of the road (for the most part this is correct, but bikes can sometimes get away with either side)
  • Give way to pedestrians (stick to the road food chain)
  • Wear a helmet (only if you are a Junior High School student or younger, adults are obviously superior riders who do not need one)
  • Ride in your work attire, heels, suit and all. (your spandex is not appropriate here, no-one likes a show off)

  • Drink and ride (0% blood alcohol limit applies, the penalty is jail time)
  • Ride with an Umbrella (You would think this is common sense, but no. A fun alternative is a rain suit, complete with pants and a jacket. sexy!)
  • Ride with earphones (I am petrified to do this anyway, you never know what car is speeding up behind you)
  • Ride side by side (Usually the road or footpath is too narrow for this anyway)
  • Stop to look both ways before crossing. Don't even slow down, that would make you a wussy. (Watch out for these people when you are driving, it's pretty much everyone riding)
  • Indicate with your arms which way you are turning. (No-one will know what you are doing so you may as well just have both hands on the handle bars)

Good luck people. Be safe. Say no to umbrellas!


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