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Tandem ban lifted in Japan's Aichi prefecture

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.”

Simon joined road.cc as news editor in 2009 and is now the site’s community editor, acting as a link between the team producing the content and our readers. A law and languages graduate, published translator and former retail analyst, he has reported on issues as diverse as cycling-related court cases, anti-doping investigations, the latest developments in the bike industry and the sport’s biggest races. Now back in London full-time after 15 years living in Oxford and Cambridge, he loves cycling along the Thames but misses having his former riding buddy, Elodie the miniature schnauzer, in the basket in front of him.

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