Thursday, January 24, 2013

Bus Lanes: How to not get pulled over on your way to work.

If you've spent any time on the roads of Okinawa, especially the main highway Route 58, you may have noticed that there are some areas where the far left lane is green. If you look closely you may see some writing and maybe even a sign but because we are in Japan after all you are most likely unable to read what it says. Thankfully you've got your good ole' friend OkiNinjaKitty to help you figure out just what this green lane is all about and hopefully help you avoid getting pulled over by the local police department on your way to work.

As you may have guessed from the title of this post the far left lane that we are talking about is called the Bus Lane. The green part of this lane is designated for busses only during certain hours of the day. Generally speaking the hours are between 7:30am and 9:30am. This is posted on signs above where the Bus Lane begins.

Using the Bus Lane is relatively straight forward; during the posted times you should not be driving in the Bus Lane. The only exception to this rule is if you are operating a motorcycle. All cars, trucks and vans are to drive in the center and far right hand lane. So what do you do if you need to make a left turn? Merging into the Bus Lane to make a left hand turn is acceptable however it shouldn't be done much more than 100 yards before your turn. This will ensure that you have plenty of time to make your turn safely but are not obstructing the Bus Lane.

Why all the hullabaloo? Here in Okinawa, much like other parts of Japan, public transportation is used by an abundance of people. Although it is admittedly severely lacking compared to other parts of Japan there are still those who rely on what public transportation is available to get to and fro. This is especially important during the morning rush hour when people are trying to get to work. With the dense traffic that we have here on the island it is incredibly helpful to have a Bus Lane where the busses can stay as close to "on time" as possible.

If you're wanting to be a rebel without a cause and drive in the Bus Lane regardless of the rules then you're looking at a fine in excess of  ¥10,000. Don't think you won't get caught either, especially on some of the most congested parts of Route 58. Police frequent those areas and pull over those who choose not to obey the law.

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