Road Safety News

Should cycling proficiency be compulsory for drivers?

Tuesday 7th August 2012

An online Guardian Bike Blog argues for making a cycling proficiency test a mandatory condition for obtaining a driving licence.

Following the death of a cyclist outside the Olympic stadium last week, and Bradley Wigggins’ response to the tragedy, cycling safety is once again high on the news agenda.

However, the Guardian Bike Blog argues that while we’d all love better cycling infrastructure, there is neither the money nor the political will to make our streets safer for cyclists.

Furthermore, continues the blog, for all the positive talk about increasing the bike awareness component of the driving test, there is a limit to how much you can tell someone to be aware of their position on the road, and a limit to the effect that theoretical knowledge can have.

So, it questions, why not make cycle proficiency a mandatory condition for getting a driving licence?

The blog says that “every driver should have firsthand experience of what it's like to ride a bike in the traffic.... Drivers need to know how smaller vehicles and their more vulnerable users behave on the road, and the only real way to understand how cyclists act is to have a go at being one.”

Citing a recent survey which revealed that 46% of respondents said they would switch to cycling for short journeys if roads were safer, the blog argues that another benefit would be that many more people would get a chance to see how convenient and safe cycling is.

Introducing a measure which is guaranteed both to get more people on bikes and make sure drivers understand cycling is a no-brainer, concludes the blog. “It would be relatively cheap, have a big impact and would improve cyclist safety without infrastructure investment.”

Click here to read the full Bike Blog.


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While drivers are taught to be aware of dangers ahead of traffic (includes pedestrians and obstructions etc..), I agree drivers should be made more aware of cyclist behavior and their rules, but not add a full course on cycling. Lately I've been reading up on the rules as I've noticed a few cyclists not paying attention. I also think cyclists should be made to do a cycling proficiency course like I have, to make them more aware on the rules. Make them wear hi-vis clothing, definitely helmets, and look back when overtaking parked vehicles and signal properly. And I know it's not in the rules, but on dual carriageways where there are cycle lanes, that cyclist use them! Cars are going national speed limits on most dual carriageways and it's very dangerous for cyclist in my opinion, especially if they decide to ride side by side.
Simon Bristol

Agree (2) | Disagree (0)

What is there to dislike in my pointing out that many who need to drive are, for one reason or another, incapable of riding a bike at all, let alone proficiently?

Or that very large numbers of elderly pedestrians fall so badly that they have to be taken to hospital - see Transcom report 2008 - and that there would be far fewer such casualties if there were many more scooters?
Idris Francis

Agree (2) | Disagree (6)

In response to Steve who believes that road maintenance budgets should be transferred over to cyclic endevours. This government has bent over backwards and so far dedicated some £100.000.000 to road changing endeavours to the God that is cycling and still cycling lobbyists want more.

Let's not forget that cyclists have been on the road safety agenda for many decades (some of the first cycle lanes made in the 1930/40s) and still many of them have not yet read the Highway Code or any other instructional book on road safety and behaviour. Such as is only one of the prerequirements for any driving test in this country as is perception and hazard appreciation, road traffic law etc. Something the majority of bikers know absolutely nothing about.

The next problem we will have is as a result of the Olympic success, further pressure will be made to spend even more monies on something totally unrelated to normal traffic conditions.
bob craven Lancs

Agree (13) | Disagree (5)

I think it's a great idea, I also look forward to training being made compulsory for cyclists too.

Agree (12) | Disagree (2)

And another thing! I think cycle training like Bikeability should be compulsory for everybody before they go out on a bike, like on the continent in places like the Netherlands. However they do have proper cycle infrastructure and reasonable speed limits too!
Steve, Merseyside

Agree (8) | Disagree (5)

Not a bad idea, but if you think finding the political will to provide proper infrastructure would be difficult, try finding a politician that would back this.

I'd disagree with the Guardian that there isn't the money available. There's a massive roads maintenance and improvement budget that just needs to be reallocated. If you look at the damage to roads that bicycles do compared to cars, it's a huge win-win investment. But you'll find quite a lot of people who don't trust people who think polluting the environment and endangering children is wrong.
Steve, Merseyside

Agree (3) | Disagree (11)

I find it hard enough to encourage cyclists to take cycle training!
Gareth, Surrey

Agree (19) | Disagree (0)

Many drivers who need their cars more than most have difficulty walking, let alone riding bicycles. My late mother, who through guts and determination passed her driving test at the age of 55, never having sat behind a wheel until a year earlier, yet was not involved in any accident by the time she gave up driving in her mid 70s could no more have ridden a bicycle at that age, let alone passed a proficiency test, than have flown a Chinook Helicopter in Afghanistan at night in heavy rain and thick cloud.

Much the same applies to the idea that those who need electric scooters should have to pass a test on one, although the number of scooter-related accidents is utterly dwarfed by the 2m or so pedestrians taken to hospital each year after falling on uneven pavements.

Over the last 10 years I have learned to be wary of the ideas and bias of anyone older than his teens whose trouser bottoms are permanently creased by cycle-clips.
Idris Francis

Agree (18) | Disagree (11)

Why not make CBT compulsory too? Then drivers would be more aware of motorcyclists too and potentially get more people out of cars and on to two wheels.
Dave, Leeds

Agree (18) | Disagree (1)