A police crackdown on drunken cycling is prompting an increasing number of cyclists to use taxis that have special equipment to carry their bicycles, industry sources said.
Fujitaxi, a taxi firm that became the first to launch a bicycle transportation service in December 1996, said more people were starting to use the service, saying that they are afraid to drink and ride.
In 2001, the taxi company's president, Tadahiko Kato, obtained a patent for a cycle carrying device called "InterCarry" which is fitted to the rear of vehicles and can be set up to carry a bicycle in about three minutes. If the bicycle is fitted so the car's license plate and indicator lights can be seen, then there are no problems with the equipment under the Road Traffic Law. So far, some 3,000 taxis at 400 taxi firms in 46 of Japan's prefectures are using the devices.
Under the Road Traffic Law, a bicycle is a light vehicle, and if people are caught cycling while drunk they can be handed a red ticket, which is reserved for serious offences. In 2005, apprehensions for light vehicle violations were made in 326 cases, with bicycles accounting for most of the cases. This figure was 3.8 times more than the 85 cases recorded in 2004.
In May this year, a nationwide police crackdown on cyclists led to four apprehensions for drunken riding. The apprehensions came after the National Police Agency sent out a notice to prefectural police in April ordering officers to actively apprehend cyclists for serious traffic violations such as riding while drunk.
As of the end of August this year, Fujitaxi's bicycle transportation service had been used 5,460 times during the year, up 354 from the previous year's figure. Some 60 percent of users are those who have been drinking. In giving a reason for using the service, many say they are afraid of being apprehended for riding while drunk. Most of them use the service between 11 p.m. and 1 a.m.
Taxis in the firm that offer the services have stickers bearing the label, "Wheelchair/bicycle transportation OK."
"Not only does the service help stop drunken riding, it also acts as a measure against discarded bicycles and contributes to peace and of mind and safety for children," Kato said.
IMPORTANT: Please post comments for this article at the new CYCLELICIOUS 2.0 version of this page.
It's funny, I read this headline and thought you were talking about "the" drunk cyclist. You know, drunkcyclist.com.