Whether it be the annoyance of a punctured tyre, falling under the wheels of a bus or having to count your millions of dollars after appearing remorseful and repentant in the face of Oprah Winfrey’s high-horsery, the world of cycling is fraught with danger. However, until le Tour de France becomes le Ridiculement Intutile De-tour de France, our fair city of Nagoya is unlikely to encounter the 50km/h crashes, the cycling short-induced scrotum shrinkage or the difficulties in finding clothes with which to match your yellow jerseys.
Yet this does not mean that, each and every time you hit the streets, you are not taking your life into your own hands. Here are six of the biggest threats to your safety as you traverse the paths and roads of Nagoya.
Perhaps the greatest risk to you as you navigate the big bad streets of Nagoya comes from those with which you share a cycle path, and more often than not, these will be the dreaded Mamachari. Yes, those little old ladies you see skirting the streets on their rickety old bikes may seem innocuous enough, but appearances can be deceiving. They swerve they sway, they are oblivious to those around them as they jam on the breaks outside 7-Eleven, and it’s often as if they can’t see you at all from underneath their umbrellas, behind their sun visors, mountains of shopping and sleeping children. And while it may seem, as they turn blindly the wrong way down one way streets, that they are a menace to no one but themselves, keep in mind that most of them are at least 150 years old. They are all about self-preservation and, if it comes down to a choice between you and them being forced off the path and into oncoming traffic, you better hope and prey that the taxi driver coming your way has got some pretty good ABS brakes.
Look Mum, No Hands!
Much like walking, reading and shitting your pants, the ability to ride a bike is a skill that most people master in childhood. From the moment stabilizers are removed and your father releases the back of your saddle like some cheesy American made-for-TV movie, we believe ourselves experts on two wheels. As such, here in Japan it seems that everyone is needlessly hell-bent on increasing the difficulty of a task that is, in actual fact, already as risky as putting your cock in a blender. Received a text from a mate wondering what you’re gonna have for tea? Why not reply whilst cycling. Don’t like the artist on your iPhone? Just scroll through your thousands of songs as you hurtle down Nishiki-dori. Typhoon has come to town? Then what better time to battle the wind and rain as you ride around holding an umbrella? Just received a text as you change songs whilst cycling in the middle of a storm? Ah, now that’s a challenge that no self-respecting Nagoyan could pass up.
Sorry Baby, I Don’t Use Protection
They don’t fit me properly. They’re uncomfortable. It just doesn’t feel right. Real men don’t wear them. There are many, many excuses for not wearing a helmet, but very much the same as eschewing other forms of protection, all it takes is for one little ‘accident’ and that’s the rest of your life well truly fucked. No pun intended.
We’ve all done it haven’t we? Just a quick drink. Just the one. Oh, go on, I’ll have another. But seriously, six is my limit. One for the road? Shots? I shouldn’t, but ok, as long as it’s not tequila. My round? Yeah, sambucas with LAD Bomb chasers for everyone! COMEOOOOOOOON! Yeah, I’m off. Don’t worry, I’m a better cyclist when I’m pissed! The parked car came out of nowhere, officer. What’s that your honor? Two years? But chicks dig jailbirds with facial scars don’t they? They don’t? Oh.
The Many Long Arms of the Law
Speaking of prison. Japan has the third lowest crime rate in the world, and still there are seven policemen for every Japanese citizen (not an actual fact). A rational mind would thus assume that a vast majority of police are deployed to tackle the institutionalized crime syndicates that make up the famous Yakuza. But you know what they say about assumption being the brother of all fuck ups, don’t you. No, the veritable army that is the Japanese police force spends its every waking moment scouring the streets for bike thieves, so be not surprised if you are stopped at every street corner to provide your registration details. And woe betide you if you have (as NAGMAG has just realized that he has done) neglected to register your flash new bicycle after binning your proof of purchase. Ignorance and general stupidity are not acceptable excuses.
Happy safe cycling everyone!