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*** COMMENT *** Prioritising cycle safety and ignoring PTWs?

Here’s a question for you; if a scheme can be targeted at improving a driving instructor’s understanding of cyclists and cycling, why not create a similar project around motorcyclists and motorcycling?

During the week, an email from the DVLA dropped into the inbox telling me about an initiative aimed at approved driving instructors (ADIs) called ‘Cycle Savvy’.

The aim is simple – to teach the next generation of drivers how to understand, communicate and cooperate with people who cycle in a way that will positively impact the experience of the next generation’s road users as the rates of active travel uptake soar.

Photo from Bikeability

The email goes on to say that ADIs play an incredibly important role in helping the next generation of drivers interact with cyclists. And so the aim of Cycle Savvy is to help develop ADIs understanding of the reasons why people on cycles ride in certain ways.

So where has this come from, how is it going to happen?

It turns out that the ‘driving instructor cycle awareness pilot’ was announced by the Department for Transport in June 2018. And the Bikeability Trust was tasked with delivering the project within the context of the Cycling and Walking Investment Strategy safety review.

So, next question. Who are the Bikeability Trust?

They turn out to be a Charitable Incorporated Organisation:

“whose object is to advance the education of the public in general (and particularly amongst children) on the subject of cycling. The Trust manages, develops and promotes the Bikeability programme, supports local Bikeability commissioners, schemes and instructors, and distributes Bikeability award materials.”

And right now, Bikeability are offering a £500 bursary to anyone who wants to pursue a greener career and train as a Bikeability instructor.

So the package has been developed by the Bikeability Trust working with the cycling and driving instructor organisations represented on the Department for Transport (DfT) ADI pilot working group, and with individual ADIs who contributed to an online survey in Autumn 2018 and development workshops Spring 2019. It’s aimed to put right what they call “the current paucity of cycle awareness learning resources for ADIs and learner drivers” by providing resources ADIs can use for their own professional development and whilst teaching and after a trial earlier this year, the scheme is due to be rolled out nationally. So, all well and good if you are a vulnerable cyclist.

But what if you are an equally vulnerable powered two wheeler (PTW) user?

Once again, in the rush to push cycling to the forefront via ‘active transport’, I see motorcycling being left behind. And once again, I don’t see the many diverse bodies that claim to speak for the broader motorcycling community coming up with a similar initiative.

Yes, ADIs ARE the front line in educating the next generation of drivers, and that means educating them to deal with ALL vehicles and road users.

Assuming that riders do make the switch to electric bikes – and I don’t think motorcycles are going away any time soon, no matter the current crop of ‘death of motorcycling’ shock stories in the press – then shouldn’t ALL two wheeler users be treated equally? Just because a scooter has an engine doesn’t make it so different from an electrically assisted cycle. And both the lycra-clad cyclist out on a training run and the biker out enjoying the rural roads are there for much the same reasons.

To my mind, the newly minted National Motorcyclists Council would be the ideal body to push a similar scheme aimed at ADIs.

And it wouldn’t actually be all that difficult either, when you think about it. After all, there is already a huge pool of ready-qualified bike instructors out there.

It would be easy to tap into their experience, not just of riding motorcycles, but also their knowledge of just how car drivers who want to gain a motorcycle licence have to be ‘re-educated’ in how to use the roads safely on two wheels, and what kind of problems they will now encounter from the four-wheeled driving community.

That knowledge could easily be passed on to their car instructing counterparts to offer car ADIs more insight into just how riding a bike and driving a car differ, and what they can do to inform learning drivers to help make motorcycling safer – such as giving new drivers a full understanding that filtering is legal!

Whilst I do understand the current enthusiasm for ‘active transport’, that should not be used as an excuse to ignore other road users who happen to be operating a different – but valid and even valuable – form of transport.

I often get a hard time for riders groups for pushing the personal responsibility angle when it comes to rider safety, and even the SOBS project has come under fire for those who believe that by looking out for ourselves we absolve those who make the mistakes that put us at risk in the first place.

I don’t believe that is the right way forward, since drivers DO make mistakes and since we’re the ones who get hurt. And I will continue to push SOBS – the next presentation is on WED 1 DEC at 8 pm and the booking link is here by the way:

But I do hope that I redress the balance when I say that standing ready to look after ourselves on the road in no way takes away the responsibility of drivers – and the driver education community – to tackle the issue of collisions between cars and bikes from the opposite direction.

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