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A motorcyclist waits on the sidewalk with pedestrians in Seoul.
A motorcyclist waits on the sidewalk with pedestrians in Seoul. (T.D. Flack / S&S)

PYEONGTAEK, South Korea — South Korean police pledged a widespread crackdown next month against motorcyclists who ride their bikes on sidewalks and crosswalks, according to the nation’s JoongAng Ilbo newspaper.

Such practices have been a continual source of complaint from foreigners visiting South Korea, the newspaper said.

The Korean National Police Agency (KNP) said its crackdown will begin in early May and also will target those riding motorcycles making excessive noise or ridden by those without helmets.

Members of the U.S. military community in South Korea are not allowed to operate a motorcycle unless they first meet various U.S. Forces Korea requirements, which include obtaining a license and passing a defensive driving test, USFK spokesman David Oten told Stars and Stripes.

The training includes an emphasis on applicable South Korean traffic laws, Oten said.

Experts said motorcyclist’s lack of respect for traffic regulations and police leniency toward violators has increased the number and severity of accidents in South Korea, the paper reported.

The KNP recently surveyed 154,000 motorcyclists at 50 major intersections around the country and, according to the paper, found:

More than nine out of 10 crossed roads via pedestrian crosswalks, the paper said.

More than one out of 10 rode on sidewalks.

Sixty-three percent failed to stop at the stop line.

Forty-seven percent didn’t use the lane reserved for motorcycles, the survey also found, according to the paper.

“As the fast delivery industry has grown, the number of motorcycle accidents is also increasing,” the paper quoted a police official as saying.

“It is difficult to check the motorcycles because they often do not obey orders to stop,” the official was quoted as saying.

The number of motorcycle accidents reported was as follows: in 2004, 10,269; 2005, 12,161; 2006, 13,635.

In January and February, 1,750 accidents were reported and 100 people killed. That’s 72 more deaths more than occurred in the same period a year earlier, when the number of reported accidents was 1,303.

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