Thursday, August 18, 2005

Danger along the Tama River

One of the most dangerous things one can do in Japan is to ride a bicycle. In an earlier post I mentioned some of the dangers as examples of why. To be blunt, people simply do not watch where they are going. They focus on the front wheel of their bike or will ride while looking to the side or behind themselves while utter disregard for their own safety or that of others. If they do see a danger, they are very reluctant to take any action to avoid it or to even use their brakes. Generally, they will continue on their way and it is up to you to avoid it. (I quit riding on Sundays because of the number of unbelievable accidents I saw, most of which were due to pure negligence.)

In May I was hit by some old guy who came flying down a hill out of control. He looked right at me---stared in fact---and headed out of his lane directly toward me. He made absolutely no effort to slow down or stop, but had a look of total panic (and profound idiocy) on his face. I was barely able to avoid a head on, but he still hit me hard enough to badly bruise my shoulder. He kept on going, until---very un-Japanese like---I started cussing him in both English and what I could think of in Japanese. He stopped, came back and gave me the standard phony apology. There was nothing I could do so I dropped it.

Yesterday, I was coming around a blind curve, and knowing the special dangers in Japan, I slowed way down. Sure enough as soon as I turned the corner there was a poser in his full cycling gear and a nice road bike on the wrong side of the road directly in front of me. He did slow down and utter a "gomen" and move out of the way after I had stopped to avoid a collision. This marked him as different than the average cyclist or pedestrian.

I think a lot of this, especially the habit of pedestrians to blindly walk around and carelessly block entire roads or walk directly into the path of others after they have seen and are aware of them, to be an example of the passive-aggressive characteristics which one observes here. "I may be slow, lazy and weak, but you are gonna have to act that way too. I will control what you do."

No comments:

Post a Comment