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May 29, 2011


Deal, England – Strange people the British….

Or maybe it is a peculiarly English trait that the British have latched on to, keeping quiet about things that is.

You are simple a nobody these days unless you are hiding behind a couple of super injunctions or denying allegations of one sort or another, obviously via your agent or publicist.

Even in our own little world of motorcycling things that you may think should receive significant publicity are allowed to slip away. As the “thing” I’m about to refer to could well encourage people to get on a bike or scooter and increase sales in hard times the fact that it has not received wide publicity is a teensy weensy bit surprising.

Ahh the “the thing”. Mike “the bike” Penning, UK Parliamentary Under-Secretary of State for Transport, has unveiled major changes to the way the off-road section (Module 1) of the motorcycle test is conducted. Remember all the press and Parliamentary who ha about it being unsafe and containing unnecessary manoeuvres well we now have the “new” version launched on May 16.

So what has changed? I’ll quote from The Telegraph the only UK newspaper that’s shown an interest in the story which has not exactly taken the “trade”  press by storm either.

“Candidates taking the off-road test will now be tested on slow-speed manoeuvres first (such as the observed “circuit ride”), to prove to examiners that they have necessary competence in motorcycle control. Only if they succeed will they be allowed to move onto the high-speed sections (including the swerve test). They will also be given more time to familiarise themselves with the test-track layout”.

“The emergency stop manoeuvre will also now take place before the swerve or avoidance exercise. Candidates who fail the emergency stop will not be permitted to carry out the avoidance exercise if it is considered unsafe for them to do so”.

For the high speed manoeuvres, candidates will now be allowed a five per cent tolerance of the speed they travel at. It means that manoeuvres, which previously had to be made at 31mph (a speed that is illegal on many stretches on UK road), can now be performed at 30mph”.

Now hang on a moment err nothings changed, with the exception of the speed thingy,  it’s just going to be in a different order i.e. change in this instance equals juxtaposition. A fact confirmed by the UK Driving Standards Agency’s (DSA) own PR.

“The key message is that the exercises will remain the same; it is mainly the order in which they are delivered that will change. This will give candidates more time to settle down and familiarise themselves with the updated layout. This will also give them the opportunity to build up their speed gradually, reducing the risk of candidates riding too fast”.

Hang on another  moment there is a change, candidates now effectively facing a pre test to see if they are competent to take the more difficult parts of the test. Which could lead one to the conclusion that it’s not the test that was/is the problem its the candidates not been properly trained. BTW if you are not allowed to complete the test do you get the test fee back, I think not.

Actually then its not surprising that the “motorcycle industry” has decided to play this  one down. Particularly in the light of the fact that the DSA has also craftily altered the rules on the way motorcycle related incidents are recorded i.e. crashes during testing and training. Now all incidents that take place, whether on or off-road, during DSA conducted tests or during training by Approved Training Bodies’ (ATBs) will have to be reported to the DSA. It could be assumed that this is the DSA sticking two fingers up at the ATB’s who were vociferous in their criticism of the DSA over the safety of the motorcycle test.

This saga is due to continue as Mike “the bike” Penning still has an ongoing commitment to integrating the off-road section of the test ( Module 1) and the on-road test (Module 2), allowing testing at sites other than those operated by the DSA and an expectation that DSA examiners will travel to test candidates. Apparently the Public and Commercial Services Union (PCS) which represents 2,000 staff DSA have some thoughts on all that…..

There was me thinking that this is all about producing safe competent riders.

Have fun and ride, ride, ride.

Eddie Kidd – You may not be aware that Eddie is still completing the 2011 London Marathon. More here… Donate here…

© Back Roads Rider 2011

3 Comments leave one →
  1. Rogerborg permalink
    May 30, 2011 4:13 pm

    If you can take the Grumpy Specs off for a moment, you might see that the changes to Mod 1 are actually a stunning attack of common sense by the DSA.

    Here’s the full list:

    1) Low speed manoeuvres first.
    2) The slow speed ride is now a “ride over there slowly” instead of a “follow me slowly” to remove the length of the examiner’s legs from the equation.
    3) Wider exit from the fast bend to allow picking a better line to the speed tests.
    4) Much larger stop area after the swerve to avoid it being effectively another emergency stop.
    5) A “sighting lap” round the fast bend and through the e-stop speed trap, to get the hang of it.
    6) e-stop before swerve, to weed out the unprepared[1].
    7) 48kph minimum speed on both the e-stop and swerve (with a minor if you don’t reach 50kph), and an immediate re-try rather than waiting until the end.

    Taken in total, those changes are a significant improvement, and a reasonable person might choose to welcome rather than dismiss them.

    [1] I say “unprepared” rather than “untrained” because there is no requirement for pre-test training beyond the CBT: candidates can and do turn up without lessons, and the test must take that into account rather than assuming that all candidates have been pre-vetted by a competent instructor.

  2. May 30, 2011 11:37 pm

    That’s just a kick in the teeth for wannabe riders..nothing unusual about that then, the government up to its usual old tricks.


  1. El Camino – The Road

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