Vehicle Parking Laws

August 14th, 2009

I wonder how vehicle parking laws work.

I don’t mean the “you can park here, but you can’t park there” part.  That’s pretty clear.  What I mean is: how do the laws work such that they separate “leaving your vehicle on the side of the street” from “leaving your sofa on the side of the street”?

Vehicles (and I’m including bicycles and the like, not just automobiles) are pretty much the only thing I can think of which are not considered abandoned when you just kinda put them somewhere.  If I see an umbrella leaning against a wall, I can probably legally take it (I’m guessing here), and I can certainly take it to a police box as a lost-and-found item.  I doubt the same is true of bicycles.

Leaving aside the “legally take it if its abandoned” part (because I’m not sure about that), the whole “lost-and-found” issue is what I’m most curious of.  The area around my train station is always choked with illegally parked bicycles.  Sure, it’s not the worst in Japan (I’ve seen places where building entrances are rendered entirely unusable by bicycles), but there are a ton of bikes, and they are a pain in the ass to navigate around.

So, since they’re parked in areas marked “no bicycle parking”, would they legally be considered “abandoned” as opposed to “parked”?  And could I then take them to a police box and say “Someone abandoned their bike in front of the station.  Actually, I’ll be back in a few minutes, because a few hundred other people also abandoned their bikes in front of the station”?

And if you park your bike in front of the station, they can be towed away to the bike impound lot, where you have to pay to get them back.  What about non-bikes?  I’m 99.9% sure that a tricycle or unicycle would also get taken to the impound, but what about a wheelchair?  What about an office chair with rollers?  What about a sofa without rollers?  Where is the dividing line between “this is a parked, but not abandoned, vehicle”, and “this is an abandoned non-vehicle”?

Is the assumption that they aren’t abandoned because they’re locked up?  In which case, could you chain your sofa to a post and say “It isn’t abandoned, it’s just illegally placed”?

This is just gonna weigh on my mind forever, I can feel it.

One Response to “Vehicle Parking Laws”

  1. Iain Says:

    This is like the law questions I had when I did my law degree. Of course, I don’t know Japanese law on this. But the legal position will not match the socionormative regime. SO the Japanese law might be this:
    Your are considering the wrong legal concept for the sofa. It is not a question of whether it has been abandoned. The issues are littering and obsruction.
    To test my concept of obstruction, please stand in the road and don’t move and see if Japan has laws about obstructing the highway. Anything on the sidewalk is always treated more leniently.

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