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Police to stop cyclists from using smartphones while riding

Police in eastern Finland have announced that they plan to begin issuing warnings to people using their mobile phones while riding their bicycles. The crackdown was prompted by an increasing number of bikers riding around while playing the popular game Pokémon GO.

Pokemon Go -peli muistuttaa pelaajaa olemaan valppaana
Pokémon GO. File photo. Image: Valtteri Välimäki/Yle

While no serious accidents have yet been attributed to distracted cyclists in the area, there have been a few close calls, according to police in eastern Finland.

One example was seen in a video of a young cyclist who was very nearly hit by a car while tapping on his smartphone at an intersection outside of Kuopio, which went viral on Facebook over the weekend, sparking debate on the issue of distracted biking.

The Eastern Finland Police's traffic head Petri Pahkin told Yle that his department has anticipated an increase in cellphone-related incidents since the Pokémon GO phenomenon began.

He said, however, that he's not sure whether the boy in the video was actually playing the game at the time.

"It's just lucky that we [in eastern Finland) have made it this far without any injuries," Pahkin said.

He said that police officers will begin to stop and warn cyclists they find riding with a phone dangling in their fingers, underscoring that parents should speak to their children about the dangers of distracted cycling.

"Parents need to talk through the issue with their kids, tell them what risks are involved when riding with a cellphone in your hand," Pahkin said.

Edit: This story was updated at 19:37 to reflect the fact that police in eastern Finland plan to issue warnings rather than fines to cyclists caught using their phones while riding.

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