Vast majority of Japanese riders are scofflaws


How often do you ride a bicycle? graph of japanese opinionAt the start of September MyVoice surveyed their internet monitor pool to find out their bicycle usage habits. 13,091 people successfully complete the private opinion poll; 46% were male, 3% in their teens, 21% in their twenties, 38% in their thirties, 25% in their forties, and 13% aged fifty or older.

It may be interesting to refer to a survey from last year on carrying children on bicycles. Riding is downright dangerous for not just the rider, but pedestrians and cars too, as rules of the road (or pavement) are mostly ignored. The average rider seems to treat ringing the bell or squeeking the brakes as a sign to everyone that says “Get out of the way or I’ll run you over!”

Note that the standard bicycle in Q2 is most often a heavy, single gear machine with front basket and very unsubtle brakes. When I was a kid, the nearest thing was the boring old three-speed Raleigh, which was probably more technically sophisticated than the current Japanese models!

Q1: About how often do you ride a bicycle? (Sample size=13,091)

Almost every day 19.7%
A number of times per week 14.6%
Once a week 10.8%
Once a month 7.6%
Have a bicycle but almost never use it 22.2%
Don’t have a bicycle 25.0%

Q2: What type of bicycle do you mostly ride? (Sample size=bicycle riders)

Standard bicycle 75.7%
Compact bicycle 8.5%
Mountain bike 7.0%
Electrically assisted bicycle 3.3%
Road racer 0.8%
Other sports bicycle 1.9%
Tricycle 0.0%
Other 1.9%
No answer 0.8%

Q3: What do you usually use your bicycle for? (Sample size=bicycle riders, multiple answer)

Shopping 73.3%
Commuting to railway/bus station 20.2%
Commuting all the way to work or school 19.7%
Leisure trips 15.9%
Going to hospital 10.3%
Carrying children 10.2%
Bicycle touring 7.1%
Work 6.8%
Other 10.4%
No answer 0.3%

Q4: If there is no bicycle lane on your route, where do you ride? (Sample size=bicycle riders, multiple answer)

Pavement (sidewalk) 76.9%
Left side of road with no pavement 52.6%
Left side of road with pavement 39.5%
Right side of road with no pavement 11.1%
Right side of road with pavement 9.4%
Middle of road with no pavement 3.0%
Middle of road with pavement 2.4%
No answer 0.4%

Note that Japan drives and rides on the left, and I suspect “middle of road” implies mid-lane, rather than tending towards the gutter. Note also since there are a lot of twisty, narrow streets all over Japan, depending on conditions most riding positions may be acceptable.

Q5: Which of the following things have you done? (Sample size=bicycle riders, multiple answer)

Ridden across a pedestrian crossing 59.2%
Ridden against the traffic on the right side of the road 46.3%
Ridden two or more abreast 44.5%
Ridden two up 42.8%
Ridden at night with no lights 41.8%
Ridden on the pavement (sidewalk) 39.5%
Ignored traffic signals 36.1%
Not stopped at a STOP sign 33.1%
Ridden carrying a large load 29.0%
Ridden under the influence of alcohol 24.9%
Ridden carrying an umbrella in a busy area 18.0%
Used a mobile phone whilst riding 15.4%
Done none of the above 12.2%
No answer 3.3%

Q6: What is your image of bicycles? (Sample size=13,091, multiple answer)

Small turning circle 70.5%
Economical 60.8%
Convenient 52.6%
Practical 49.6%
Good for health 48.8%
Laid-back 41.0%
Difficult to use when hot or cold, etc 27.6%
Respectful of the environment 26.1%
Tiring 23.3%
Sporty 17.9%
Dangerous 14.6%
Casual 12.3%
Invigorating 9.8%
In the way 9.6%
Elegant 2.4%
Good design or colour 1.7%
Cute 1.5%
Old-fashioned 1.5%
Individualistic 1.2%
None of the above 1.7%
No answer 0.9%
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