Cycling + Safety in Japan

Bicycles and pedestrians always have the right of way in Japan, and most drivers are very respectful of cyclists on the road. Japan is also home to some of the world’s best bike paths and backroads. Knowing about road rules, etiquette and cycling safety in Japan is key to having a satisfying and smooth journey. Before you hop on the saddle, take a moment to review the guidelines below, and remember that safety is key!

JApan Cycling LAWs

Familiarize yourself with traffic laws and obey all traffic signals.

If you are road cycling, stay on the LEFT side of the road, on the LEFT side of the lane. This will become natural in time, but be vigilant about the infamous ‘drift-right’ which is common for riders who are used to riding or driving on the right side of the road.

Japan does not have a “right on red” or “left on red” law, so when you come across a red light, you MUST stop and wait for the signal to go green.

Keep at least one hand on the handlebars at all times.

Do not wear headphones or earphones while riding. Stay aware of what is in front of you and behind you.

Do not ride while inebriated.


Wear a helmet when on your bike at all times.

If you notice that traffic is accumulating behind you, return the courtesy of the drivers, and pull off for a moment to let traffic pass.

Alert riders and drivers around you by announcing the presence of traffic and signal turns with your hands/arms well in advance. When there are other riders near you, call out “right turn”, “left turn”, “slowing”, “stopping”, “car up”, “car back”.

Make your presence known, and make eye contact with motorists when possible.

Operate your bike consistently and predictably. Always avoid erratic movements. Maintaining a straight line is the best way for a motorist to predict your movements and pass safely.

Always be aware of weather and road conditions, and how this may affect your ability to stop or turn the bike. Give yourself double braking time and distance in wet conditions.

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