How to Stay Safe and Enjoy Riding a Bicycle in Kyoto

Bicycles are a great and stress-free way to enjoy the sights of Kyoto without waiting for public transport. Cycling is also absolutely necessary for local college students. In this article, we introduce traffic rules, basic manners, and convenient bicycle park maps created by Kyoto City. Just remember, in some cases, not following the rules might lead to penalties (such as fines). Keep safe while riding a bicycle in Kyoto!

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Basic Rules

First, let's introduce two main rules that must be followed when riding a bicycle not just in Kyoto, but in all of Japan.

1. Bicycles must be ridden on the road, not on the sidewalk.

Bicycles are treated the same as cars and should normally be ridden on the road instead of the sidewalk. However, there are exceptions. 

Children under the age of 13, elderly people over 70 years of age, or physically disabled people can use the sidewalk. The sidewalk may also be used if the road cannot be safely passed through (e.g. road construction).

You can ride on the sidewalk in specifically marked zones, which will have bicycle marks like the image above. However, do not forget to give priority to pedestrians! It is important to have consideration for pedestrians by riding closer to the road, maintaining an easy-to-stop speed, or walking the bicycle in places where there are many pedestrians around.

2. Bicycles keep to the left.

Bicycles should always be ridden on the left side of the roadway, following the flow of traffic. It is very dangerous to ride against the flow of traffic on the right side, and cyclists could be overlooked by incoming cars.

Traffic Rules for Bicycles Established by Kyoto City

Do not ride with an umbrella.

Riding with an umbrella can lead to a fall or accident through the loss of balance. It is recommend to wear a raincoat on rainy days.

Do not use earphones or headphones when you are riding.

It is difficult to maintain full awareness of your surroundings when you are riding while using earphones or headphones.

Do not ride using mobile phones or smartphones.

It is important to keep your eyes on the road, and avoid distractions from phones.

Do not ride after drinking.

Just as with driving a car, a bicycle follows the rule of "Do not ride if you drink".

Do not ride side-by-side.

It is very dangerous to ride two or more bicycles side-by-side. Groups of cyclists should ride in single file.

Do not carry a second person.

Carrying a second person can lead to loss of balance and injury.

Pay attention to stop signs.

As shown in the photo above, stop at the intersection where there is a stop sign, and check your left and right.

Use a headlamp at night.

Do not forget to use a headlamp when it gets dark. It is necessary to alert surrounding road users of your presence.

Follow the chevron-shaped arrow mark on the road.

Many roads in Kyoto have reddish brown chevron-shaped arrow marks and a picture of a bicycle in order to allow bicycles to travel safely and comfortably on the left side of the roadway. It is easy to understand the direction of travel by following the arrow marks.

Beware of bus stops!

Kyoto has many bus lines running throughout the city. It is very dangerous to try to overtake a bus that is stopping at a bus stop. This is because the bus might suddenly start moving, other cars may come in from behind, and passengers may suddenly step out from behind the bus. In this case, it is better to stop behind the bus and wait for it to move again.

Do not cause obstructions with bicycle parking!

The photo above is a yellow braille block on the sidewalk. It is an important guide for blind people. Always park a bicycle so as not to cause an obstruction, even for short time. Things to watch out when parking your bicycle are:

Braille blocks for blind people.

 Interference with the passage of pedestrians, wheelchairs, or strollers.

Access for firefighting or emergency activities in the event of a disaster or evacuation.

Obstructive bicycles will be removed immediately.

Regardless of time, in Kyoto, bicycles left by owners and illegally parked bicycles will be immediately removed. Additionally, the recent popularity of bicycle rentals has led to many bicycles being left in inappropriate places. Make sure to check the correct locations for rental bicycle parking and to park properly!

Bicycle Parking Map

There are many bicycle parking spaces in Kyoto City. This is the bicycle parking area of the downtown area of the city "Kawaramachi". Enjoy your bicycle riding!


We hope this article has been useful and informative! Be safe while riding and enjoy sightseeing in Kyoto by bicycle!

Kansai Feature

The information in this article is accurate at the time of publication.

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We're a group of local college students in Kyoto that produce information about Kyoto's charms to release to the world. We write articles about Kyoto using information that only locals could know. We hope you enjoy our work!
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