Simulators are a great, safe way to teach people how to do things properly before they actually have to do them. The first simulators were for airplanes and they cost a lot of money when they appeared 80 years ago. Although simulating an aircraft cockpit and behavior was a difficult and costly business, it had a very effective ROI in terms of planes and pilots. Nowadays, you can simulate almost any environment thanks to the computer - there are low cost safety simulators available for planes, boats, cars, motorcycles, and even the inside of a person’s mouth - but until now, not bicycles. Honda is rectifying that with a bicycle simulator that has been developed for the purpose of traffic safety education.

The Honda Bicycle Simulator allows riders to experience the possible risks they may face on the roads to improve their ability to predict dangers and increase their safety awareness. The system is equipped with monitors in front and behind the rider to allow them to check in front, right, left and behind, while a “walking sensor” can even recognize the user’s action of walking the bicycle.

Designed to offer realistic scenarios for riders of different ages, the simulator features different courses such as “going to school”, “going to a local shopping street” and everyone’s favorite, “going to cram school.” After the simulation, the rider’s path can be reviewed from multiple vantage points for evaluation of the performance.

Honda says that approximately 70 percent of bicycle accidents are caused by violation of traffic rules and it hopes its bicycle simulator will be adopted by law-enforcement organizations, driving schools, public offices and schools which conduct bicycle safety education programs primarily for school children and senior citizens. Honda is targeting these age groups because, although the total numbers of fatalities from traffic accidents has declined in Japan in recent years, the ratio of fatalities involving bicycles has increased, with riders aged between 10 and 19 and over 50 having the highest chance of being involved in an accident.

Honda has been selling automobile simulators since 2001, motorcycle simulators since 1996 and will begin accepting pre-orders for its bicycle simulator in November. It measures 2.27m (7.4-feet) long, 1.4m (4.6-feet) high, 0.99m (3.2-feet) wide, and weighs 88kg (194lbs). And although it probably won’t be as much fun as the CyberBike, its an important development which could help save lives.