Learning to bike -- without the bruises

Honda Motor Co. has developed a bicycle simulator designed to help children learn how to get started on a two-wheeler without getting any bumps and bruises.

The simulator incorporates a bicycle and a television monitor that take the rider through a series of scenarios, just as if he or she were really cycling along a road.

The rider encounters a series of hazards - ranging from heavy traffic to riding in the rain or heavy snow.

Honda has purposely made the simulator similar to an arcade game and hopes it will teach a new generation of cyclists the dangers that they face on the road in a safe but fun way.

"We think of it as a safety education machine and it is designed to show a cyclist how to be careful of pedestrians and traffic when they are cycling, but in a fun way," Sanae Tanaka, a spokeswoman for Honda, told Relaxnews.

"We hope it will teach them to predict what might happen in a given situation, making them more aware of the risks of the road and showing them what they need to pay attention to," she said.

According to police statistics, the total number of fatal traffic accidents has declined in recent years, although the number involving bicycles has increased. People aged between 10 and 19 are most at risk of an accident, along with those over the age of 50. Approximately 70 percent of all bicycle accidents are caused by violations of traffic rules.

Honda plans to distribute its simulator to elementary and high schools, to municipal offices and main police stations, where it can be used as part of road training programmes for children.

The company is taking advance orders for the device, which costs Y732,900 (€5,515) and the first units will be delivered in February. Honda is aiming to sell 500 of the simulators a year and may consider overseas sales in the future.

JR

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