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Number of road traffic accidents caused by bicycles in Japan 2011-2020

As of 2020, the number of traffic accidents caused by bicycles in Japan reached over 13.98 thousand cases. After an increase in cases since 2016, the number of accidents decreased in the first year of the global COVID-19 pandemic. Likewise, the overall number of cyclists involved in traffic accidents decreased.

Is riding a bicycle safe in Japan?

Despite decreasing numbers, around two in three cyclists in Tokyo claimed to have experienced accidents or near misses while riding a bike as of March 2020. Although most of these incidents reportedly have happened on sidewalks, another survey conducted in July 2020 showed that cyclists of all ages throughout Japan perceived the roadway to be dangerous for riding a bicycle. Respondents stated several concerns, mainly connected to the threat posed by automobiles, while acknowledging that, in principle by law, cyclists must use the roadway when the sidewalk is separated.

Who is likely to get involved in bicycle accidents?

Bicycles are a popular mode of transportation in Japan, especially among young people on school runs and the elderly. For the elderly, bikes are a cheap and flexible mode of transportation. If they have returned their driver’s license, it might even be the only option left to maintain a certain degree of mobility and independence. Accordingly, the likelihood among elderly and underage cyclists to get involved in traffic accidents is relatively higher.
The nature of their risks might differ, however. Although among both groups, electric power-assist bicycles have become increasingly popular in recent years, elderly cyclists with limited stability tend to struggle more with e-bikes, which built-in electric motor makes them heavier and faster than the average bicycle. Since people are aware of this issue, there have been e-bike training courses for the elderly organized by vendors, the police, and local governments. One can hardly measure the direct effects of such initiatives. At least, the casualty rate of elderly cyclists decreased steadily over the past decade. It remains to be seen if this trend continues.

Number of road traffic accidents caused by bicycles* in Japan from 2011 to 2020

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Sources

Release date

February 2021

Region

Japan

Survey time period

2011 to 2020

Supplementary notes

*Referring to bicycles that were the primary party. The primary party is the party whose negligence was the grossest among the parties concerned in the accident.

Values have been rounded.

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Statistics on "Bicycle industry in Japan"

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