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YOKOSUKA NAVAL BASE, Japan — Under revised rules issued this year for nonmotorized vehicles on base, bicyclists now must use sidewalks in tunnels, and security personnel may confiscate the boards and bikes of any skateboarders and bicyclists not wearing protective gear.

The revision preserves a rule saying skateboarders still cannot ride in congested areas or “inconvenience, impede or cause anxiety” to pedestrians or motorists.

“The [rules] are there for the safety of the kids and the safety of everyone else,” said base commander Capt. Gregory Cornish, who signed the revised regulation in March. “So we enforce that pretty strongly.”

The revised instruction, No. 5800.9K, adds a few restrictions and strongly reiterates many of the points from previous versions, according to Michael Kretschmer, Yokosuka’s traffic safety officer.

The biggest change is a rule about riding bicycles in tunnels, Kretschmer said. Bicyclists always have been required to walk bikes through the narrow, one-way Gridley tunnel — and the new rules reiterate that — but now bicyclists also must ride on the sidewalk in the tunnels, not on the roadways, on Howard Street and must yield to pedestrians.

Other cycling rules include:

Ride on the far left with traffic unless passing other bicycles or pedestrians. Bicycles can go against traffic in designated bike lanes on King and Howard streets.Walk bicycles in crosswalks and always ride single file.Do not carry passengers or use cell phones or umbrellas.Wear an approved bicycle helmet with chin straps secured.At night, wear light-colored clothing and reflective clothing and use a bike light.For skateboarders, the rules restate requirements to wear a helmet and sturdy shoes at all times plus knee and elbow pads at skate parks. Brightly colored clothing is recommended.

Skateboards, roller skates and inline skates cannot be used after dark on base. Off base, Japanese law prohibits skateboarding anywhere except skate parks; violators can be fined up to about $266 or sentenced up to three months in jail, Kretschmer said.

On base, skates and boards are forbidden on hills, tunnels, streets, construction areas and parking lots except at the Negishi Morale, Welfare and Recreation Youth Center lot.

According to the instruction, the restrictions are essential to help prevent accidents because base roads often are congested and many base children and teens use skateboards and bicycles for transportation. The problem is intensified by the hundreds of Japanese workers who use bicycles to get around base.

Those who violate the rules could have their bikes or boards confiscated. If dependents are cited, their sponsor or parent could be required to attend traffic court to get the item back. Active-duty personnel could be required to have their supervisor retrieve a confiscated item.

A notice in The Seahawk base newspaper recently warned that security officials will enforce skateboarding rules more aggressively and asked people to call security officials if they see violations.

Contact Kretschmer at the safety office at 243-7354 for more information.

To report a violation, stop the person if it is safe to do so and call security at 243-5000 with as much information about the individual and violation as possible.


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