Within the past decade or so, many Japanese commuters sought to avoid crowded trains by adopting the use of bicycles. The increase in cyclists is so significant that it is reported in the news that many municipalities have increased patrolling with the intent of catching traffic violators on bicycles.

The number of bicycle traffic violations in 2021 was 22,859 compared to 2,584 in 2010, an increase of about 10 times, indicating that the National Police Agency is stepping up its enforcement of bicycle traffic laws.

You might be wondering, “what’s the worst that can happen?”

While it might seem that cycling is an innocuous mode of transport, there are violations that if you are caught committing, can land you with a mandatory court appearance and possibly deportation!

If you are already using a bicycle in Japan to get around, you should be well informed already, but just in case, it may be useful to do a review.

Violations with severe punishments

Never ride a bike after consuming alcohol.

If you think that 飲酒運転(いんしゅうんてん) (inshu-unten – drunk driving) does not apply to bicycles, beware. This is probably the worst infraction you can commit on a bicycle. According to Article 2, Item 11 of the Road Traffic Law, bicycles are defined as a category of light vehicle, and therefore, like automobiles, there are penalties for drunk driving.

According to data from the National Police Agency, there are more than 100 arrests per year for drunken driving on bicycles, which means that arrests for drunken driving are definitely made even for bicycles.

Furthermore, as with cars, there are penalties of up to five years in prison or a fine of up to 1,000,000 yen for driving a bicycle while intoxicated.

The scary thing about the penalties for bicycling is that, unlike automobiles, there is no penalty system, which means that in some cases, …continue reading