An official at Toyota Motor Corp. has presented proposals to the central and local governments to install 250,000 kilometers of cycling lanes across Japan over the next five years in a bid to reduce accidents involving cyclists.
The proposals were presented by Akira Watari, a 63-year-old member of Toyota's IT & ITS planning division, which aims to reduce accidents and ease traffic congestion through intelligent transport systems that make use of information technology.
After conducting observations in Europe, Watari reached the conclusion that the installation of cycling lanes was essential to prevent accidents between motorists and cyclists.
"The establishment of cycling lanes is the most effective way to enable motorists, cyclists and pedestrians to coexist," Watari said.
The number of accidents between cyclists and pedestrians is 3.7 times higher than a decade ago, and as many drivers regard cyclists as a nuisance on the road, the suggestions from the Toyota official are likely to gain public attention.
In January last year Watari drew up standards for installation based on the situation in Europe. He announced them in the Japan Society of Civil Engineers' magazine Civil Engineering in October last year. Japan currently has no standards for installing cycling lanes so Watari made his own suggestions.
His proposals split the 1.2 million kilometers of road in Japan into three main categories: roads in urban areas, roads in non-urban areas and community roads with no center line. He also grouped roads in the first two categories into main and regional roads, and examined measures based on the various speed limits (under 30 km/h, up to 40 km/h, 50 km/h and 60 km/h or above).
Watari concluded that cycling lanes separated from traffic by fences or curbstones were needed to ensure safety on some 6,900 kilometers of city roads where speed limits of 50km/h or 60 km/h and above were implemented. On the remaining urban roads and roads in non-urban areas -- a distance of about 730,000 kilometers-- Watari proposed cycling lanes separated with white lines. He also suggested making cycling lanes in urban areas stand out with colored paving.
Watari proposed that cycling lanes be installed on a preferential basis on 250,000 kilometers of roads, excluding regional roads in non-urban areas.