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Tokyo police cracking down on unlawful e-scooter use in wake of accident surge

A Metropolitan Police Department police officer instructs an electric scooter user who wasn't wearing a helmet, in Jingumae, Shibuya Ward, Tokyo, on Sept. 28, 2021. (Mainichi/Makoto Kakizaki)

TOKYO -- In response to an increase in accidents involving electric kick scooters, the capital's Metropolitan Police Department (MPD) conducted safety guidance and a crackdown on unlawful riders on Sept. 28.

    Accidents in the capital involving e-scooters jumped from just three in June to December 2020, including two involving personal injury, to 39 from January to August 2021, with 15 involving personal injury.

    E-scooters are equivalent to motorized bicycles under the Road Traffic Act, and require a motorcyclist's or driver's license and license plate. Regardless, more and more people are using them as an easy means of transportation.

    From around 8 a.m. on Sept. 28, about 20 police officers were out giving safety instructions around the intersection in Jingumae, Shibuya Ward. According to the MPD, they confirmed illegal activities by seven riders, including individuals who had not obtained license plates or were riding on sidewalks.

    A man in his 70s who was traveling on the sidewalk without wearing a helmet, which is required by law, said, "I don't have a license. I got an electric scooter because it's convenient."

    Hidefumi Sakudo, manager of the traffic and general affairs division of the MPD, said, "We will continue to inform people of the rules so that they do not ride unlawfully, such as on the sidewalk."

    (Japanese original by Makoto Kakizaki, Tokyo City News Department)

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