A rather strange release from a company that manufactures cars and motor-driven devices of all kinds, Honda introduces the Bicycle Simulator, which it intends to begin selling in Japan in 2010. With winter on the way, the simulator looks at first to be an excellent way to bomb steep grades and huck 20-foot cliffs on your virtual mountain bike when it's cold, dark and frozen outside. Unfortunately, the purpose of the simulator is safety not entertainment.
Like the mandatory driving simulator you had to use back in high school before getting any actual driving time on the road, the bike simulator is designed to teach traffic safety. The simulator will increase safety awareness among cyclists, help them to better identify risks and increase knowledge about traffic rules and procedures. Different scenarios will be featured, including "going to school" and "going to the grocery store".
Honda is hoping to sell the simulator to law enforcement agencies, schools and other public facilities that promote bicycle safety.
According to an article from the League of American Bicyclists, which cites data provided by the Census Bureau, bike commuting in the US experienced an increase of 14% from 2007 to 2008. From 2005 to 2008, the increase was 36%, showing steady growth over time. With gas prices continuing to fluctuate and emphasis constantly being placed on greener transportation, there's no reason to believe the number of bicycle commuters won't continue to rise. And when whole bunch of newbie bicyclists drop into crowded, urban roadways, there is a great potential for hazards and injuries.
The Honda Bicycle Simulator and similar products seem to be the right idea at the right time. Such products could be particularly useful if implemented in elementary school, where young children could learn how to be safe from an early age, helping to protect them in the present and future. While simulators certainly won't be as fun as riding a real bike, they promise to serve an important role on the streets.
Fareastgizmos via Ubergizmo