Iowa Simulator Helps Researchers Understand Child Biking Behavior

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The University of Iowa has made a concerted effort to understand citizen behavior in the midst of traffic.  They’ve done so not only with a vehicle driving simulator, but with a bicycle simulator as well.  A new report takes a look at the latter.

The bike simulator was designed to help researchers get a handle on the decision making process in place when a child rides his or her bike in traffic.  The idea is that such behavior analysis can help scientists uncover ways to further promote safety among the population.

For instance, early research conducted on the simulator indicates that there is a noticeable lag between adults and kids aged 10-14 when entering traffic.  While both demographics pick the same spots in traffic to cross the street, the children, unversed in skillful riding, tend to wait a moment before pedaling forward.  This essentially gives them less time to cross the street, thus putting them in more danger.

The simulator allows researchers to analyze these kinds of habits thanks to a virtual environment that mimics what one might encounter along the actual road.  The screens actually wrap all the way around the participant so that he or she is totally immersed in the virtual world.