Japan Diet passes bill to impose tougher penalties on cyclists

Lawmakers in Japan have unanimously approved a bill to impose tougher penalties on cyclists who recklessly violate traffic rules.

A revision to the Road Traffic Act passed the Upper House of the Diet on Friday.

"Blue ticket" fines for relatively minor offenses will apply to bicycles. The system already covers cars and motorcycles.

The revised law stipulates fines for 113 violations and applies to people aged 16 or older. The changes will be implemented within two years.

Accidents involving cyclists have been increasing, and police are cracking down on dangerous behavior such as ignoring traffic lights and stop signs, and using a mobile phone.

Cycling under the influence of alcohol, currently not penalized, will be subject to a prison term of up to three years or a fine of up to 500,000 yen, or about 3,200 dollars.