Photo/Illutration Police advise a cyclist on how to ride safely in Tokyo in October. (Asahi Shimbun file photo)

Nearly 40 percent of the bicycle accidents that resulted in three pedestrian deaths and 309 serious injuries in 2022 occurred on footways, according to the National Police Agency.

The largest number of victims, 122, or 39.1 percent, were hit by cyclists on off-street walkways, while 19, or 6.1 percent, were struck on the side strips of roads marked for pedestrian traffic.

Seventy-three, or 23.4 percent, of the accidents occurred on crosswalks and other parts of roadways. Intersections were the sites of 77, or 24.7 percent, of the accidents.

Cyclists must use roadways, in principle. When they use footpaths, they are required to pay close attention to pedestrians’ safety.

The latest statistics show that not all cyclists follow those safety rules.

Cyclists were found guilty of violating the Road Traffic Law in all 312 accidents, the NPA said.

The most common offense, found in 27.9 percent of the total, involved cyclists not paying proper attention to the route ahead. In 24.7 percent of the accidents, cyclists did not look both ways or skipped other safety steps.

The number of fatalities and serious injuries was up year on year for the first time in four years. The total for 2021 was 301.

The figure had declined for three straight years after reaching a peak of 359 in 2018.

Shigeki Kobayashi, chairman of the Bicycle Usage Promotion Study Group, a nonprofit organization, said cyclists on roadways often feel in danger by the automobiles beside them.

“Bicycle riders are pushed to use walkways, and the risks are passed on to even more vulnerable pedestrians,” he said.

Kobayashi called for lowering the speed limit and taking other countermeasures, including improving infrastructure for cyclists.

“The issue cannot be fixed unless spaces are secured for bicycles to run safely,” he said.