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Elderly and blind or partially sighted people benefit from rule change

Blind and partially sighted people living in Aichi prefecture, which includes Japan’s third largest city, Nagoya, are among those who can now enjoy cycling on the roads after a ban on tandem bicycles was lifted.

Until 1 April, tandems could only be ridden for leisure purposes in parks in the prefecture, which covers nearly 2,000 square miles and has a population of 7.4 million, reports the Japan Times.

One of those to take advantage of the change in the law is 69-year-old teacher Hiroshi Yamada, who is totally blind.

He took to a tandem piloted by 65-year-old bike mechanic Tadao Takahashi for a ride through the streets of Kariya.

“The wind feels good,” said Yamada, who first met Takahashi, who built the tandem himself, at a competitive event three years ago.

They spent an hour in the saddle, with Yamada saying afterwards: “I’d like to try traveling somewhere farther next time.”

Takahashi said: “We need to communicate out loud and make sure our bodies are in sync when we are turning, but it was actually fun to do that.”

The website says the Japan Cycling Association is in favour of tandem bicycles since they enable the elderly as well as disabled people to ride, but cautions that they do take some getting used to.

The association’s head, Hiroshi Kobayashi, said:  “People should practice properly [on a tandem] before going on the road.”

Born in Scotland, Simon moved to London aged seven and now lives in the Oxfordshire Cotswolds with his miniature schnauzer, Elodie. He fell in love with cycling one Saturday morning in 1994 while living in Italy when Milan-San Remo went past his front door. A daily cycle commuter in London back before riding to work started to boom, he's been news editor at road.cc since 2009. Handily for work, he speaks French and Italian. He doesn't get to ride his Colnago as often as he'd like, and freely admits he's much more adept at cooking than fettling with bikes.