Bicycles, Insurance, and Laws (Oh My!)

On July 1st, 2016, in Osaka Prefecture, a new ordinance that requires all bicycle owners to have bicycle liability insurance came into effect. In addition, a lot of people might not know that, due to "a rise in the number of bicycle related fatalities, injuries, and accidents", a revision to the Japanese Road Traffic Law came into effect on June 1st, 2015.

If you've ever been unsure about bicycle laws, or if you've ever wondered if your bicycle adventures need insurance to prevent them from becoming costly misadventures, now is the time to look into things!

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BICYCLE INSURANCE IN OSAKA

There isn't much that needs to be said about the ordinance because it's fairly uncomplicated:

If you (a) own a bicycle, (b) live in Osaka Prefecture, and (c) don't have any form of personal liability insurance, you (d) need to get some kind liability insurance for your bicycle.

In regards to (c), people with the following forms of liability insurance may already be covered in case of bicycle accidents, and might not need to get extra insurance:

1. Auto Insurance with an additional Personal Liability Insurance policy.
2. Fire Insurance with an additional Personal Liability Insurance policy.
3. Accident Insurance with an additional Personal Liability Insurance policy.
4. Mutual Insurance such as Zenrosai or Shimin Kyosai.
5. Group Insurance such as Company Insurance, PTA Insurance, or School Insurance.
6. "TS Sticker" Insurance from a certified bicycle shop.
7. Credit Insurance with additional Personal Liability Insurance protections.
8. Expansive Insurance for General Student Life (Futaigakuso)
9. Personal Liability Insurance for Students (Gakubai)

Please note that having these forms of insurance may not always necessarily mean that you also have bicycle liability insurance. It is up to you, the policy holder, to make sure that you are covered or not.

While the ordinance makes it mandatory to have bicycle liability insurance, there currently aren't any fines or penalties for not having it.

However, if you're unfortunate enough to get into an accident (i.e. hit someone with your bike), you might wish that the prefectural government had been harsher with enforcing the ordinance.

For an example of the kind of consequences that can happen when you don't have insurance, here's a Japan Today article from 2013:

Mother Ordered To Pay ¥95 Mil After Son Collides With Elderly Woman
The Kobe District Court has ruled against the 40-year-old single mother of a 15-year-old boy after his bike struck an elderly woman while he was riding too fast down a hill.

Judge Tomoko Tanaka ordered that the mother pay a total of 95 million yen because she “provided insufficient guidance to the child that may have prevented this accident.

-  Japan Today


We personally know of one high school student who was thankful for her school's mandatory insurance policy when she was sued for ¥10,000,000 after an accident.

With that in mind, maybe an additional ¥150 a month is cheaper than ¥10,000,000 in the future - even if you don't live in Osaka Prefecture.

For more information, you can contact the Osaka Information Service for Foreign Residents on 06-6941-2297 (Available in 9 languages; Weekdays: 9:00-17:30).

Those who can read Japanese (or know someone who can read it for them) can also refer to the official Osaka Prefectural website on the topic at the following address: http://www.pref.osaka.lg.jp/dorokankyo/osakajitensha/index.html

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BICYCLE LAWS

While we're on the topic, here's a general reminder (via the Marine Corps Air Station of Iwakuni) about the fourteen safety violations that the police will stop you for:

• Ignoring traffic lights.
• Crossing railroads while gates are down.
• Failure to obey no-passage instructions.
• Failure to reduce speed while riding on sidewalks.
• Violating traffic-zone regulations.
• Obstructing pedestrians on the side of the road.
• Obstructing pedestrians on sidewalks.
• Obstructing vehicles with right of way at crossroads.
• Obstructing vehicles when making a right turn.
• Unsafe cycling caused by use of cell phones or headphones while riding.
• Riding while drunk.
• Failure to observe safety rules at roundabouts.
• Failure to stop at a stop sign.
• Riding a bicycle without working brakes.

According to the same website:

If a bicyclist is ticketed twice in a three-year time period they will be required to attend a safety class. The class is a three-hour lecture with a ¥5,700 course fee. If the cyclist refuses to attend the class he/she can be fined up to ¥50,000.


Worth keeping in mind!

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