According to a story in MCN some weeks back (which I missed at the time) the drop in motorcycle tests in the last eight months of 2009 compared with the some period in 2008 was down by 50,000.
Just 31,000 riders rolled up to the DSA’s new test centres to take the bike test. By comparison, 81,000 took the test in the last eight months of 2008. That represents a fall of 62%.
The numbers of riders who passed fell from 53,000 to 22,000 in 2009 the number was 22,000, a fall of 58%.
Nich Brown, spokesman for rider lobbyists the Motorcycle Action Group (MAG), said:
“The DSA has been saying that test bookings are back to normal and we have been saying we don’t believe it. This shows we were right. If this carries on long-term then we will see motorcycling shrink.”
A DSA spokesperson blamed the fall on a surge of test bookings before the changeover, saying:
“The 2008 figures may be inflated due to the number of candidates trying to pass the test before the changes.”
Whilst there was undoubtedly a rush to beat the new two-part test, figures for 2009 were also likely to have been affected by weather, which saw snow on the ground for much of December that year, although the drop is far more than can be accounted for by closed test centres and cancelled tests.
It’s a bit worrying that the DSA spokesperson can only say that the 2008 figures “may” be inflated. They have easy access to year-on-year statistics!
Anecdotal evidence from online forums suggests that many riders are making do with a 125 on L plates for couple of years, instead of going for the test. The confusion and constant chopping and changing of how the Module One part of the test is being conducted certainly hasn’t helped rider confidence at the moment.
Bike prices may also have something to do with it. With entry level machines like the XJ6 now nudging £6,000, manufacturers are rapidly pushing new road users back towards cheap cars.