As I think just about everyone now knows, the Driving Standards Agency proposed to introduce the new, EU inspired bike test with new off-road elements at the end of September.
The DSA added a hefty premium – from £60 to £80 – to cover the cost of implementing the longer bike test incorporating the new off-road element.
Needless to say, although the fiasco of the lack of centres capable of staging the test led to the delay in implementing the new style test for six months – it won’t now come into operation until March – they didn’t postpone the rise in fees!
Hopefully, the lobbying groups in the bike industry will get onto this too, and insist that the price rise is reversed and anyone who’s paid the higher fee and taken the ordinary test is re-imbursed the difference.
Whilst I’m on the subject of the new test, the point that the “supercentres” are far more widely spaced than the old test centres has been made repeatedly.
As far as I know, up to this point critics have focused entirely on the risk to trainees posed by the long journey times, and the consequent early starts and late finishes which could make for some seriously unpleasant rides in the winter.
A point that has been missed, as far as I know, is that the DSA from time to time have to cancelling tests, and not always at the last minute either. But with the extended rides that many trainees will now have to make to reach the test centres, it’s going to cause a lot of unnecessary grief.
On occasion, the cancellations are for very valid weather reasons, for instance when there is snow and ice, or strong winds to make riding conditions dangerous.
Sometimes the examiner may be sick, or there might be some other problem – I had all the tests cancelled one day after an unauthorised parker managed to reverse into the examiner’s bike, knocking it over.
I’d say at a guess that in a summer of instructing, with perhaps 10 or 12 tests a month being done, 1 in 20 or 25 would be cancelled.
That may not sound many, but it adds up. Whatever the reason, for trainee and school, it’ll mean many more wasted hours – the trainee will have to take another day off work, and the instructor will have to escort the trainee to the school without the school earning any more cash for the extra day’s work.
And I can’t see the instructor wanting to do the day’s work for nothing.
On top of that, there’ll be all the wear and tear on the bike, not to mention fuel burned unnecessarily which is hardly environmentally friendly, something the DSA are keen to promote at the moment.
I doubt we can expect the DSA to start offering compensation but they could perhaps improve the means of notifying trainees and schools about cancellations – it shouldn’t be impossible to set up a system that automatically texts the person due to sit the test, hopefully in time to prevent a wasted journey to the test centre.
It won’t be possible to catch all the cancellations – like the damaged bike I mentioned above – but where the DSA know in good time that they can’t run the test, it would help enormously.