Traffic management plan in front of Kutchan Station

Reason Why NOT Safe and Attractive Street

As shown in the previous column “Redevelopment in front of the station in Kutchan-cho“, “the town planning” plan that Kutchan-cho is considering is just simply colored in the city planning area.And, except for the construction of the station building and the public facility, the landowner builds the building freely in the frame of the city planning area.Unless an extremely rare building agreement is realized, there is no effectiveness at all about the existence or absence of “town planning” by the local government.

And, the point in the case of the local government to do “town planning” is the designing of the road. And it is important to clarify traffic management before improving roads. If you don’t decide first how to flow people and cars and what to do with the parking lot, The city will be a city with no traffic management.

First, let’s check the current situation.

Current situation and its cause

Current status
Current status

All roads are aimlessly designed to be mutually passed. The reason for this is that the road administrator and the traffic administrator (police) are divided vertically.

Road traffic in the West
Road traffic in Japan

In countries other than Japan, local governments have the authority of traffic management and carry out road construction and traffic management. Whereas all the traffic restrictions are being controlled by the police in Japan.

A road construction and a traffic management are two sides of the same coin. However, they are divided vertically at the top level of the country (bureaucratic structure) in Japan.

The authority of traffic management is legally left to local Public Safety Commissions. However, they are have become completely out of shape, not only local Pubric Safety Commissions but also The National Pubric Safety Commission. And the Public Safety Commissions are de facto shields for the police to escape democratic control.

the police organization that does not reach the will of the people

Legally, traffic management is the authority of the Public Safety Commission. Despite the fact that the authority is executed nationwide by Chiefs of Police in each prefecture, the police do not attempt to clarify the authority of traffic management. This is because in traffic regulation and enforcement, the emphasis is on appealing the decentralization of power (regulations are created by the Public Safety Commission and police enforce it).

Vertical road administration

Japanese police also emphasize aspects as investigative authority rather than as administrative organizations. This is because publicity of “strong police” is a major guide to Japanese police.

Then, japanese police haven’t been work to listen to the people’s will.

Benefits of one-way traffic

One-way traffic management is actively adopted in cities other than japan.This is because one-way traffic management is extremely reasonable in both traffic safety and smoothness.

  • The risks of collisions are reduced because it is not necessary to face the oncoming vehicle.
  • In safety, there is no comparison between one-way traffic and mutual traffic.
  • Pedestrians only have to pay attention to one side, so they can cross the road safely.

If parking zones on the roads could be installed, the shopping street could be activated. Anyway, one-way traffic will bring many benefits.

Despite the many benefits of one-way streets, Japanese roads are aimlessly designed to be mutually passed, with parking on both sides prohibited. Therefore, many people have no question and tend to take such “city development” as a matter of course. So, let’s check what kind of “city development” is being done in other countries.

Traffic Management in CANADA

Traffic Management in HAWAII

The above two cities are not special examples.In cities other than Japan, traffic safety and smoothness are ensured by one-way traffic, and roads are actively used as parking lots.

Benefits of one-way traffic in heavy snowfall areas

The benefits of one-way traffic are even greater in Kutchan in the heavy snowfall area because the roads narrow during the snowfall season.

Winter Mutual Road
In Kutchan, where the driveway narrows during snowfall, the merit of introducing one-way traffic is great.

One-way traffic plan

It shows the traffic management plan by one way.

One-way plan 01
One-way traffic management proposal 01

The above plan is a very orthodox plan.In order to further revitalize the station front street, the plan below can also be considered.

One-way plan 02
One-way traffic management proposal 02

The town planning proposal also mentions a plan to make the street in front of the station one-way. so the plan above is not unrealistic.

Police do NOT cooperate in city plannings

The town planning proposal says the street in front of the station should be a street that pedestrian have the right of way on whole of the street. However, you’ll find a small note that it is a matter for consideration. Also, one-way traffic is described passively as one of the pedestrian priority plans. I think that the reason for being passive is that the city-building experts who wrote it thought it was impossible.

And one-way traffic won’t be installed because the police never cooperate in city plannings.

The lack of cooperation in city plannings is deeply influenced by rights and interests of police officials.

  • Traffic lights on mutual streets have rights and interests for police officials more than simple one-way street.
  • It is easier for police to justify a uniform nationwide parking prohibition administration by mutual traffic roads. This is because mutual traffic roads are difficult to park a car than a one-way traffic.

The reason there are a lot of traffic lights in Japan compared to other countries is that traffic lights give rights and interests to police officials.

Basic Japanese peculiarities
Traffic lights, Traffic congestion information, Road signboards, Regulatory signs, Road signs such as Pedestrian crossings, etc.
These are managed by the prefectural police. Actually, the governor cannot touch.
Cozy relationship between politics and business
Until the 1990s, a private company group had received orders for the maintenance of traffic lights at high prices without competition. The company group was found fraudulent in Aomori, Saga, Osaka and Kanagawa. Also, Adhesions, such as “Amakudari” and entertainment, have been reported. Aomori and Saga police officers committed suicide as the investigation of the case progressed. It was the largest tax evasion case in Japanese history in terms of tax evasion.
Rights and interests following the toll roads
Japan has many toll roads, and the fees are terribly high.
Road management is inefficient because it is always affected by “Amakudari”.
And the national budget for road was spent endlessly on toll roads which profits were not expected
The law was revamped in 2003, and the national budget for road were also being passed to police traffic control facilities.
Police budget comparable to defense costs
Japan’s defense budget is about 5.5 trillion yen this year. Police expenses are about the same as adding national and local budgets. However, no work has been done to make public the national and local police budgets.

One-way traffic management, which reduces the need for traffic lights, is no longer adopted in Japan except very old street.

Impossible to manage parking by local governments

In Western cities where local autonomy is functioning, on-street parking is widely adopted as the city’s infrastructure to solve the city’s parking problem.

It is common in western countries that on-street parking is provided for short-time parking and off-street parking is provided for long-time parking.

On the other hand, in Japan, road designings where parking on the street is extremely difficult is being promoted. This was promoted in cooperation with the National Police Agency and the Ministry of Land, Infrastructure, Transport and Tourism of Land, Infrastructure, Transport and Tourism, and is uniform across the country.

In addition, publicity as if parking on the street itself is bad has been widely mobilized by mass media.

By the way, parking meters and tickets come up for many people when they think about on-street parkings. However, Japanese parking meters/tickets are quite different from On-Street parking in Europe and the United States.

Public parking in Japan

Parking meters/tickets in Japan are only a type of parking regulation based on the road traffic act. If you pay a fee, you will be exempted from the violation for only one hour, and it is fundamentally different from on-street parking in western contries.Therefore, the receipt of the parking meter/ticket says “Administrative fee”.

Rights and Interests of Public Parking

In this century, the Ministry of Land, Infrastructure, Transport and Tourism has been actively developing off-street parking. Starting with airport parking lots where parking demand is high, both the national and local governments now supply a large amount of off-street parking.
Most of these off-street parking are left to public-service corporations. And there are so many OBs in public-service corporations.
For details, please refer to the Parking COMPLEX.

The cause of the collapse of the shopping street in the provinces

The National Police Agency excluded parking on the streets in a uniform manner across the country. On the other hand, the large store law was deregulated, then huge stores in the suburbs with big parking lot was built one after another. As a result, in regions where car dependence is high, shutter streets have been increasing even in front of the main station.The reason is that the customers flows to the suburban shop with big parking lot.

Now make sure that on-street parking in Japan is defined separately in each of the laws governed by the two central ministries.

On-Street Parking Japan

As mentioned above, Japanese parking meters / tickets are kinds of regulation. And parking meters / tickets in Western countries are “On-street Parking Lots” when applied to Japanese law. Then, the number of “On-street Parking Lots” is only around 1,000 cars in Japan (from the Ministry of Land, Infrastructure, Transport and Tourism 2007 survey).

On-street Parking make streets prosperous

Motomachi Shopping Street
Yokohama Motomachi Shopping Street is one-way street with on-street parking. I had been living in Yokohama for a long time, so I visited this shopping street so many times. It was easy to find a parking space on weekdays, even though, the Shopping Street is well-known and connecting to MM Motomachi Chinatown Station and JR Ishikawacho Station. This indicating that on-street parking is very effective as a countermeasure to short-term parking needs.

Local Government without Self-government

By controlling the trivial things by law, Japanese local autonomy is heavily regulated. In city planning, the biggest task of local governments is to select item on the menu prepared by the central government. Regulation and subsidies for specific businesses have forced local government to do so.

Local governments in Western contries control road traffic management. In contrast, central ministries and agencies in Japan control them. To make matters worse, the National Police Agency and the Ministry of Land, Infrastructure, Transport and Tourism have rejected a hopelessly comprehensive and rational policy.

In this column, I will continue to cover Kutchan Town Office and Kutchan Police Station and edit.

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