We’ve returned from Japan and notice other differences concerning safety besides the seat belt requirement in motor buses.
For one thing, at every construction site there was one and sometimes two men in official looking outfits that somewhat resembled police uniforms, wearing helmets, standing on the street or on the sidewalk to direct vehicular and pedestrian traffic. They were there even if nothing going on inside the work-site appeared to be effecting the street or sidewalk. Although I’ve noticed workers on 0ccasion positioned at an entrance to a construction site, they only seem present when something directly affecting the adjacent sidewalk or roadway is going on, and they wear the regular attire of a construction worker.
The uniform, including the helmet that looks more like a police officer’s helmet than a hardhat, gives the Japanese safety worker more of an aura of authority. Also noticed in Tokyo was that the crosswalks contained one area specifically marked for pedestrians, and a separate area on one side of the crosswalk designated for bicyclists. This certainly made me feel safer when I walked in the area for pedestrians. But there were no bicycle lanes marked on the streets.
To the contrary, bicylists in Japan typically use the sidewalks, and one has to be mindful of that when walking on the sidewalk. Many times in Japan a bicyclist would “sneak-up” on me from behind and I would have to move to the side in order to let the bicyclist pass. Additionally, in New York, the threat of injury biclyists pose to pedestrians in a crosswalk comes not from bicyclists crossing in the same or even opposite direction as the pedestrian, but instead from bicyclists travelling perdendicular to the pedestrian, that is coming from the cross-street usually in disregard of a traffic control device. The marked bicylists’ crosswalk does nothing to reduce that threat.
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