The police have recently started a national campaign to promote safety among bicycle riders. This campaign follows a fourfold increase over 10 years in the number of accidents caused by cyclists. Last year, in January 2003, one accident led to the death of a pedestrian in Tsukuba, when he was hit by a high school student riding on the sidewalk. Until May the police will issue a warning to the cyclist whose behavior is dangerous, and later they will start issuing fines. Speaking on the phone while riding can land you in jail for up to 3 months or to a fine of 50,000 yen. The same penalty applies to those who ride with an umbrella. For piggyback riders, the fine can amount to 20,000 yen. Driving without headlights, failing to stop at traffic lights and stop signs or other dangerous (but often seen) acts will also be reprimanded.
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