I have attended many meetings and done a fair bit of research into the new motorcycle test and I am writing to put a few different slants on this fiasco.

Firstly as with any EU legislation it is a case of one size fits all. The directive that is imposing the new test on us, 2DLD is all about harmonisation. However has there ever been any thorough analysis that this is required in the UK. We have one of the toughest, most heavily controlled, rider training systems in Europe already in place. Our roads are one of the safest in Europe. Our problem is more to do with large capacity bikes and more mature riders isn’t it? Surely attitude and post test training is required. What’s needed in Portugal and Spain may not be required in Scandinavia!

Not tested. There has not been enough research into the variances of machines and people likely to attempt this test, specifically low power, small capacity bikes. Will this now see the demise of the A1 category licence? Most bikes in this group are unlikely to achieve the acceleration and terminal speeds necessary. Wet weather is also a massive issue. The DSA claim that MPTC’s have surfaces with excellent wet weather properties. However this claim is totally irrelevant. It is a psychological as well as physical fact people cannot go as fast or brake and corner as hard in the wet as in the dry. (Check out Motogp lap times when it rains!) No adjustments or compensation will happen during the off road manoeuvres, however on the road you will be expected to ride to the conditions. So regardless of the weather half of your test will be taken in “dry mode” and the other half in “adjust to the conditions mode!” The temporary/emergency sites DSA are proposing are going to be stadium car parks covered in parking bays, Vosa sites made of concrete slabs! Sites where examiners have no control over access. Sites where everyday traffic is free to drop its usual residues. The DSA produced the layout and format of the test with out consultation. They interpreted 2DLD which consists of 4 exercises and made it 11. They claim to have tried and tested it by letting some people have a go. These people were not novice riders on the first rung of the ladder under pressure of a test. Ask for a report or survey or analysis and you won’t get one, is this research?

Not safe. The test is fundamentally flawed. IT IS ACTUALLY A TEST OF UNSAFE RIDING. I have conducted this test on a 125 and 500cc machine. To achieve the high speed manoeuvres taken at 50kph (31.5mph) you have to accelerate hard coming off a sharp bend in low gear and then swerve and brake once up to speed. This is a practise I would never teach a student under any circumstances. It implies a total lack of awareness to accelerate so hard and fast in a situation you should not. It also smacks in the face of this governments and the DSA’s obsession to place ECO driving on the agenda. What hypocrisy! You would fail the road ride if you demonstrated such harsh acceleration and lack of planning. Why was the breaking of our national speed limit never challenged. This is one of the reasons the high speed manoeuvres cannot be conducted on public roads and these massively expensive MPTC’s had to be built. Yet another unsafe and illegal practice, teaching students to speed! If a student does over cook it on the high speed manoeuvres, the spill could be quite serious, low or even high sides are possible. Also the locking of the front wheel at 50 kph is a very unpleasant scenario, easily done especially when wet. I have no idea of the first aid facilities at these MPTC’s and I doubt the examiners have either. It is the same as this test not thought through enough.

Not ready. The MPTC build programme (new test centres) has already been covered and was one of the reasons for deferral. However my slant is on the research aspect and preparation for the test itself. There simply has not been enough. I can see examiners having to fix issues on the job! Even some Examiners are sceptical. They are confused over some of the pass fail criteria aspects and highly dubious of the allotted time for each candidate. When do they decide a candidate (who has paid £80, probably lost a days pay at work and travelled miles and miles to the centre) is unsafe to take on the road ride. A very grey area. Clip a cone, wobble a cone or knock a cone over. All very different interpretations by very different examiners. Even in the U turn box confusion reigns. You are allowed to go on the white boundary lines but which part of your bike, your tyre, handlebars, pannier, must not go outside the box? Why cant things be simple! Examiners had better get fit as well if they are to keep test slots on time. You only need one or two students to retake the speed parts (you are allowed 2 attempts, both exercises) or struggle to interpret the course layout and get lost in a sea of cones and bang go their lunch breaks. The call for a two part test is becoming ever more attractive! (Watch this space!)

What a way to implement the biggest overhaul of our motorcycle test since 1989, when the pursuit test was introduced. What the breathing space provided by the 6 month deferral should address is a complete overhaul of 2DLD. It is implied this new test will make motorcyclists safer riders, yet there is absolutely no evidence to support this. Making the exam harder does not make people smarter, it just makes less of them pass. Could this help to reduce road casualty figures for riders I wonder? If you change the test the training to achieve it also needs to change. None of this has happened with 2DLD, the training industry has been hung out to dry. No support, no funding. Imagine how many teacher training days there would be if a school exam changed. Students see the test as a hurdle to overcome to get their licence. It is their training that influences their riding. I still get students from years ago telling me they can hear my advice in their head. “Leave that front brake alone, get up a gear, look where the f**k you are going!” I have never heard anyone say their riding test influenced their riding career in any way. We are spending millions and changing something that is totally without foundation, not researched, not ready, not necessary, and directed at the wrong area of rider safety.

Written Oct 08