Even if it is said that "bicycles are roadways" ... Jun 6 at 5:19

"Bicycles are a companion of cars, so in principle, you should run on the roadway,"

and even though I was running on the roadway, I couldn't run because it was dangerous because there was parking on the street!
Have you ever had such an experience?

How safe is the roadway for bicycles?

Now that bicycles are becoming a hot topic due to the increase in accidents, the tightening of traffic violations, and the mandatory effort to wear helmets, I decided to investigate thoroughly.
(Reporter, Ministry of Social Affairs / Zhou Ying-hwan)

What is a nationwide "bicycle lane"?

This time, we examined the "bicycle lane". It is also called a bicycle lane.

According to the law, in principle, bicycles must run on places where there is a traffic zone, and cars are not allowed to run.

As bicycle-related accidents continue to occur across the country, it is expected to reduce traffic accidents by separating the places where bicycles run from sidewalks and car lanes.

In other words, a major role of the traffic zone is to enable bicycles to safely ride on the roadway, not on the sidewalk, and maintenance is proceeding at a rapid pace.

According to the Ministry of Land, Infrastructure, Transport and Tourism, as of 2021, there are about 600 kilometers of bicycle lanes nationwide.

As of March this year, there are 3 routes in Tokyo, a total of 217 kilometers, of which more than 123% have been newly built in the past five years.

If you look it up with big data...

This is a measure that makes it easier for bicycles to ride safely on the roads, so I am sure that cyclists will welcome it.

With that in mind, when we talked to users, surprisingly many of them mentioned the issues. Many of them were of the opinion that they could not use it safely because of parked vehicles on the traffic zone.

If there is a lot of parking on the street, the very role of the traffic strip to ensure that bicycles can ride safely on the roadway can be undermined.

So how much street parking is there in the traffic zone?
With that in mind, I contacted the Metropolitan Police Department, but there were no documents.

Then we decided to look into it ourselves.

What caught my attention was big data on street parking in Tokyo. NHK independently obtained data from the street parking survey conducted by the Tokyo Metropolitan Police Department on weekdays in October 2022 (afternoon of October 10 ~ early morning of October 19).

The data records illegal parking confirmed during the noon (20:13~17:17) and evening (20:8~2000:<>) hours throughout Tokyo, including the location and type of vehicles of <>,<> vehicles.

This is how the location of illegal parking is plotted on a map of Tokyo based on location information. A pink mark indicates an illegally parked vehicle.

Of these, if we overlay the data of the 23 wards of Tokyo, which seems to have a particularly large number of on-street parking, with the location of the traffic zone using GIS = geographic information system...

The blue line is the traffic zone. Then, we checked the illegal parking nearby one by one and tallied the number of parks in the traffic zone.

As a result, as of October last year, there were 23 traffic routes in Tokyo's 10 wards, and it was found for the first time that 134 routes, or 85% of them, had illegal parking.

There were a total of 114,1372 units.

In Chiyoda Ward, a total of 120 cars were found to be illegally parked in a 13-meter section.

Isn't the traffic zone that is supposed to be maintained for the safe riding of bicycles not being utilized? The survey revealed a part of the difficult situation.

Accidents with cars on the traffic zone

As we continued our coverage, we found that there were cases where illegal parking on these traffic zones led to accidents.

Kosuke Miyata, who uses a bicycle to commute to work, was involved in an accident in 2019 while trying to avoid a truck parked in a traffic zone.

Mr. Miyata was riding his bicycle along the traffic zone in Shibuya Ward, but a truck was stopped, so he checked behind him to avoid the right side and gave a hand signal to change course.

However, as another truck coming from behind passed by, the side mirror came into contact with Mr. Miyata's right hand.

He did not fall and fortunately did not cause any serious injuries, but he felt that it could lead to a serious accident.

Kosuke Miyata
: "Even if you check backwards and give a signal to change course with your right hand, you are still involved in an accident. In addition to me, I think there are many other people who feel dangerous every day, such as parents who carry their children on bicycles. I want them to create an environment that is free from the dangers of automobiles."

Accidents related to cars parked in traffic zones have occurred all over the country.

According to the statistics of the Traffic Accident Analysis Center, 2022 people nationwide were seriously injured in accidents in which bicycles collided with cars parked in bicycle lanes, in the five years to 5.

In addition, experts have pointed out the danger of an accident in which a bicycle like Mr. Miyata that tried to avoid a car parked in the traffic zone came into contact with a car coming from behind, but there are no statistics on the accident, so the full extent is not known.

Background of illegal parking: Logistics demand revealed

Illegal parking in these dangerous traffic zones has been cracked down by the police.

Still, why is there so much illegal parking? This time, we decided to aggregate illegally parked cars one by one from big data and explore trends.

This is the result of aggregation by vehicle type.

Of the total 1372,697 vehicles illegally parked in traffic zones, a total of <> freight vehicles accounted for more than half of the total.

What is happening in those places? Based on the analyzed data, we decided to head to a route where there are many illegal parking of lorries and talk to the driver.

As soon as I arrived at the scene, I saw a truck of a carrier parked on the street in a line in the traffic zone.

We spoke to a total of 30 drivers, and 22 of them said they parked for loading and unloading.

In addition, drivers said that the demand for home delivery was high, and that they could not meet the delivery time if they were parked in a remote parking lot or parking space, or that there were many places where they wanted to use coin-operated parking but could not use heavy trucks due to the wide width of the vehicle.

Truck driver
: "While there are calls for improving the working environment in the transportation industry, the reality is that if you stop at a remote parking lot and deliver the package, you will not be able to finish it in time. I'm sorry that I parked my car where bicycles pass, but I also need to meet the demands of people waiting for delivery..."

What emerged from the on-site interviews was the actual situation in which the needs of traffic zones to protect the safety of bicycles and freight vehicles that meet the growing demand for logistics collide.

Expert: "Building consensus where lives can be protected"

However, despite the difficult circumstances, it is not possible to realize a safe traffic environment unless this situation is improved.

We asked Professor Takashi Kubota of Saitama University Graduate School, who specializes in urban transportation and serves as a member of the national committee on bicycle spaces, about the results of this analysis.

Professor Hisashi Kubota of Saitama University Graduate School:
"I am very surprised that the number of illegal parking in bicycle lanes is higher than expected. For bicycles, it is difficult to steer and avoid parked vehicles while checking behind. Cars are speeding on the main roads, so it is a dangerous situation that could cause serious accidents that threaten life."

Furthermore, Professor Kubota pointed out that in order to respond to the parking needs of freight vehicles, it is necessary to build consensus among people in various positions related to roads.

"For example, it is necessary to give consideration to delivery companies, such as creating spaces where freight vehicles can stop using vacant lots, and it is necessary for various actors, such as the police, road managers, residents, and the logistics industry, to thoroughly discuss and tackle it as a problem of urban development, with the top priority being to make traffic zones places where lives can be protected."

Coexistence in "Place"

Experts pointed out the importance of everyone involved in roads to think about how to "coexist" diverse transportation entities.

For "coexistence," initiatives are being made in Tokyo that provide hints.

At Hakusan Street in Bunkyo Ward, we are taking measures to install parking spaces next to traffic zones in order to balance the parking needs of freight vehicles and the safe riding of bicycles.

Since there are many condominiums and commercial buildings around this road, and there is a high need for freight vehicles to park and stop, the Tokyo Metropolitan Government established a parking ticket-type parking space that allows for short parking on the right side of the traffic zone from 2016 to 2021. The idea is to coexist by separating "places".

Coexistence in "time"

In Sapporo City, efforts are being made to coexist with "time".

The area around Sapporo Shower Street in Chuo-ku, Sapporo City is lined with large commercial facilities and restaurants, and there is a particularly large amount of freight vehicle traffic.

Since 2006, the city has opened part of the sidewalk as a parking space from 9:11 p.m. to <>:<> a.m. the next day, when the need for freight vehicle unloading is particularly high.

On the other hand, at other times when the number of pedestrians increases, poles are installed to prevent cars from entering the sidewalk so that they do not park or stop. The movement of the poles is carried out by employees of local commercial facilities.

This is an effort to separate pedestrians from lorries, but experts have also pointed out that using different road uses depending on the time can be one measure to coexist the need for bicycle space and parking on narrow Japan roads.


The number of traffic accidents that occurred nationwide in 2022 was the lowest since Showa 41, when we started keeping statistics using the current method.
On the other hand, the number of accidents involving bicycles increased for the second consecutive year to 6,9985.

In addition, from July 2, qualified electric scooters can be used without a driver's license, and the same traffic rules as bicycles apply.
Failure to create a traffic environment in which pedestrians, cars, bicycles, and new vehicles such as electric scooters can coexist could lead to more accidents.

Now that it is becoming more popular as a means of transportation, I felt that various people involved in roads need to think about how to reduce illegal parking so that bicycles can ride safely on the roadway.

* Reference materials: Data collection created by analysis

Social Affairs Department Metropolitan Police Club reporter
Zhou Ying-hwanJoined
the bureau in 2017. After working at the Okayama Bureau, he has been a current member since 2021. In charge of the Transportation Department.

Data Director
Tanaka is in charge of data analysis and visualization at the data visualization team "NMAPS".