Japan cyclist becomes first to face dangerous driving charges after law change to include bikes

Japan cyclist becomes first to face dangerous driving charges after law change to include bikesA Japanese man has become the nation’s first cyclist to be arrested over a road rage incident since traffic laws were recently revised to curb dangerous driving. Akihiko Narushima, 33, allegedly swerved his bicycle in an erratic manner across the street obstructing vehicles, at one point directly cycling towards a woman in her 40s driving a car. His actions, in Okegawa, Saitaman Prefecture, were caught on the dashboard camera of a nearby vehicle, according to local media reports. Mr Narushima, a part-time labourer, was already in custody when the arrest warrant was issued, after allegedly grabbing an elderly man who tried to reprimand him for dangerous cycling. His arrest over obstructive driving on his bicycle is reportedly the first of its kind after the Japanese government revised its Road Traffic Act in June, according to the Mainichi newspaper. The revision involved widening the scope of offences that fall into the classification of dangerous driving, so that cycling dangerously can also constitute a criminal offence. The decision to revise traffic laws came after a string of high-profile traffic fatalities, with penalties for obstructive driving include a prison term of up to three years or a fine of around £3,696 (500,000 yen). Police are planning to investigate Mr Narushima’s involvement in several dozen similar incidents in the area, where he is reportedly notorious among locals for his road rage antics, earning him the nickname “Okegawa pop-out boy”. Cycling traffic violations across the spectrum are reportedly soaring in Japan this year, as a growing number of people swap public transport for bicycles due to the pandemic. A total of 12,839 violations were reported in the first half of this year, according to National Police Agency figures released last month, with many relating to cyclists ignoring traffic lights.

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