Despite the passage of 35 years I can still remember the debacle that was my motorcycle test. I turned up at the allotted time and place on my ‘oily rag’ condition Royal Enfield 250cc Crusader Sports, 984 WF, (where are you now!). The tester gave me instructions to ride round the block a couple of times, perform an emergency stop and…, that was it! Test passed! The L-plates were ripped up and there I was burning up the road and aspiring to a Triumph Bonneville. Was the test adequate? Was it hell and I guess many of us of a certain age survived due to the lack of traffic on the road compared to today and the relative slow speed of traffic, again when compared to today. Oh yes, and a huge dollop of luck!
No one can argue that better training gives those new to the road a better chance of surviving in modern traffic and congested roads but the latest incarnation and, more to the point, the implementation of the new motorcycle test which comes into force in October of this year beggars belief. The new stop and swerve tests, which have to be conducted at 30kph, and 50kph mean that purpose built off road sites have to be built. This means that the number of testing centres will reduce from the 230 or so at the present to 66 for the entire UK!
This means that the Isle of Wight, areas in Scotland, Wales and remote parts of England will not have testing centres, which are easily accessible by our most vulnerable, inexperienced bikers. MAG is negotiating with the DSA and the road minister Jim Fitzpatrick MP in trying to find solutions. Using the Isle of Wight as an example, we are campaigning for the Island to retain its testing centre, which it was set to lose under the new regime. MAG has identified a site on the Island, the DSA have approved it and the architects department have been to assess the site and report on the cost implications. This a real shift! MAG has had meetings with the Chief Executive of the DSA, Rosemary Threw, transport minister Jim Fitzpatrick and the head of the MPTC project team Steve Haddlesley. Whilst no promises have been made we are encouraged that they are adapting the strict criteria, which they initially were applying to a more flexible one, which may deem the Isle of Wight a financially viable ‘casual site’, after all. If we can make this work in the Isle of Wight then there is a chance we can campaign for similar arrangements to be considered elsewhere in the UK. In addition MAG are lobbying for a delay in the implementation of the new test to ensure that bikers are not discriminated against by being unable to take their test. Demand is high and outstripping the provisions of motorcycle tests.
All this at a time of real concern over the casualty rates of bikers! Do you want to help? Join MAG. Campaigning and lobbying is not cheap and your membership makes a significant contribution to our ability to defend motorcycling. Oh yes and we have great parties too!
David Short (MAG Campaigns Manager)