The law that allows any person to take unsupervised control of a form of transport, and permits this person to mingle and mix with pedestrians, with cyclists, with motorcyclists, with cars, with vans, with buses, with rigid-chassis lorries and with multi-axled articulated lorries, in an unchallenged way, is broken beyond flaw.
There is absolutely no sense behind this decision – not within the context of our over-congested, badly maintained, road system.
Let’s look at an example of a different – but broadly similar – form of transport, and the standards that those who wish to use this broadly similar form of transport have to attain, before they are allowed on the British road system.
Before a motorcyclist can access the British road network s/he must, under the direct access scheme:
- engage the examiner in conversation to prove a certain degree of intelectual capacity
- pass a rudimentary sight test
- pass two theory tests
- pass two practical tests
- by law, keep their motorcyclie roadworthy and subject to an annual inspection, and also
- be fully insured
Only when all of these standards have been met, can s/he join the traffic.
A bicyclist is not required to have any theoretical knowledge. A bicyclist is not required to have any prior practical ability. A bicyclist has no eye test. A bicyclist is not even checked for mental capability.
Yet a bicyclist can leap straight out in to the traffic, theoretical standards unchecked, practical knowledge unvalidated.
In addition to these failings, a bicyclist has no requirement to be fully insured.
The argument that the cycling lobby puts forward, as a defence against the well-reasoned, highly-logical argument for compulsory testing is, ‘Ah, but most cyclists are car drivers!’
There are just two flaws with this defence.
- What does the twisted logic behind this statement even mean? Where is the justification in this risible defence? What have people who utter such claptrap got against standards? Here’s how it works for all of us. I hold a car licence. I hold a motorcycle licence. I hold an HGV licence. Each one can only be gained by passing a dedicated test that I meet at the very least an acceptable minimum set of standards for each form of transport. The cycling lobby seem to want bicycles to be seen, for lobbying purposes, as a form of transport. Yet the cycling lobby seem to want to be exempt from the same standards-based test requirements that the operators of all other forms of transport must achieve.
- Most motorcyclists are car drivers too. But the rigorous standards that the DSA impose on motorcyclists are not waived ‘because they are car drivers’. In fact, the motorbike test is much more stringent than the car test. Most bus drivers, most lorry drivers are also car drivers. And yet they too must sit standards-based tests for each additional form of transport.
The situation seems to boil down to two simple statements:
- For all road users, competence, capacity and capability tests exist for a reason. Except if one is a bicyclist.
- For all road users, mandatory insurance exists for a reason. Except if one is a bicyclist.
The more time I spend travelling the country’s roads, the more horrible things that I see, the more compelling it becomes that putting untested, uninsured bicycle riders on to the road system, alongside pedestrians, alongside other cyclists, alongside motorcyclists, alongside cars, alongside vans, alongside buses, alongside rigid-chassis lorries, and alongside multi-axled articulated lorries, must be halted.
Standards exist for a reason.
To allow just one group of road users to not have an individually-validated set of standards is ridiculous.
And dangerous beyond measure.
Bicyclists must be subject to mandatory standards-based testing.
Bicyclists must be required to be fully insured.
Bicyclists must be properly regulated.
And the penalties for cyclists who transgress laws must be raised to the same levels as the penalties of other road users.
Only then, when these standards benchmarks have been achieved, and are being rigidly enforced, will the roads – and pavements be safer places.
Safer for everybody.