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The word cycling means something quite different in  Japan and Holland. In the Netherlands, the two greatest dangers are, in my humble opinion, one’s own lack of watchfulness or that of drivers of motorised vehicles. In Japan, it’s different. Anything with four wheels and a motor is a consistently safe factor in the traffic. You know what they’re going to do, they drive carefully and calmly and don’t do unexpected things, with some exceptions, of course. Part of the reason is that the maximum speed is very low: highways 80 or 100 km., regional roads 40 or 50 km., and in city areas 30 km. We mostly use the regional roads, although there are an awful number of cars...

But the other road users: cyclists and pedestrians. The first, in particular, are a real menace to other road users. And there are SO MANY of them! Unguided projectiles with their mamachari (like bikes from grandmother’s time) hurtling through the city, some at unbelievable speed but most at a snail’s pace. The latter wouldn’t be a problem, were it not that they swerve from left to right, appear from nowhere, ride on the wrong side of the road (in Japan one drives on the left), ignore the red traffic light and don’t show where they want to go. We have still to find one who puts his hand out when changing direction.

As well-trained Dutch cyclists, we  stuck our hands out but when we realised that they then stopped, surprised, and looked round to see what we were pointing at, we didn’t do it any more.
As pavements are used by both cyclists and pedestrians, you have to watch out for the latter too. Obasan and Ojiiisan (grannies and grandpas) tend to take up the entire width with their shoppers, and the ‘salarymen’ (office workers) are always in a hurry and can’t judge your speed.
So it’s not surprising that per year there are some 650 fatal traffic accidents involving cyclists. We prefer to use the road rather than the pavement...


Perfect cycle pathHere we prefer to cycle at the road"Obasan""Salarymen""Mamachari"