Road Safety News

Paralympian calls for compulsory cycling training for learner drivers

Wednesday 8th June 2016

Dame Sarah Storey, Britain’s most successful paralympian, has told the Evening Standard that learner drivers should be forced to take cycle training in a bid to improve road safety.

The 11-time gold nedal winning cyclist told the newspaper that helping drivers to “learn what it’s like to be a cyclist on busy roads” in London and other cities would cut accidents and reduce the animosity between some cyclists and motorists.

Eight cyclists died in London in 2015, seven in accidents involving an HGV. Despite this, Dame Sarah has rejected calls for a ban on HGVs in rush hour, telling the Standard it would be “difficult to implement without hindering the functioning of cities”.

The relationship between lorries and vulnerable road users, in particular cyclists, is one that has been the focus of a number of campaigns in the capital. The Met Police’s Exchanging Places is designed to help cyclists and HGV drivers understand the difficulties they each face.

In May, the Government announced it is set to make changes to the practical driving test in a bid to ensure it reflects the modern driving experience.

Dame Sarah Storey told the Standard: “I do remember not really covering cycling when I learnt to drive and I hope it has improved since then, but I think we need to have a section on cyclists.

“If you are fit and healthy you should go out on a bike and actually get a sense of understanding what it’s like to ride a road in traffic.

“If you’re young and able and learning to drive in your 20s then there should be the potential to do that.”

Photo: arianta, via Flickr. Use under Creative Commons.


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Over and above the "need" for safer infrastructure, better (any?) training, respect from other road users, their own requirement to obey the rules of the Highway, improvements to personal and vehicle based safety systems, what are the unique needs of cyclists?

My view is that all road users when looked at have the same needs, most of which are covered in the above "Friday afternoon list". It is very easy to make generalised statements and I do not feel that terms such as "motorists are ignorant of the needs of cyclists" are useful in encouraging debate as not ALL motorists are ignorant just as not ALL cyclists run red lights. Let's aim for shared responsibility to look after each other whilst out and about on the Highways. Informed debate with an ability to accommodate others views and needs rather than arguing from a fixed point which will I believe get us nowhere.
Nick, Lancashire

Agree (0) | Disagree (0)

Cyclists do have unique needs. Horse riders are not the same as cyclists. 1000's of horse riders do not commute everyday to work! Pedestrians tend not to walk in the road as there is already a lot of infrastructure out there for them (pavements!). Whatever your view on cycling, cyclists are over represented in collision stats and this is only increasing. Motorists are ignorant to the needs of cyclists and at the same time many people who ride a bike lack any training or cycling strategy.
Chris, Warwick

Agree (4) | Disagree (4)

The Evening Standard has a fixation on the small number of cycling fatalities in London and completely ignores the larger number of pedestrian fatalities. Yet I assume all learner drivers are also pedestrians but it does not stop more pedestrians than cyclists being killed on the roads.
Robert Bolt, Saint Albans

Agree (5) | Disagree (1)

Sarah, all that is needed to know about the dangers on our roads, whether that be horse riders, cyclists, motorcyclists or pedestrians etc. is encapsulated in one manual available for all road users and that is the Highway Code. Whilst it is derided by some, much of the advice of what to do and not to do is referred to in its pages. Much of its content refers to actual Law, making certain actions an offence. Much more is simple common sense advice some of which if not heeded could also end up as considered unlawful. Perhaps motorists including cyclists and all other road users should acquaint themselves regularly with its contents and then the streets would be a much safer place.
R.Craven Blackpool

Agree (24) | Disagree (3)

Maybe drivers of vehicles should also follow the rules. I drive, ride motorbike and cycle. I see moronic behaviour from all but mostly from cars, not surprising considering they are the most numerous.

Agree (13) | Disagree (2)

I believe wht makes cyclists, horse riders and pedestrians vulnerable, is their speed, or 'rate of movement' if you like, with respect to that of the motorised traffic in close proximity. With motorcycles, they are usually the fastest and most manouverable motorised vehicles on the road which some might say are attributes which do not put them in the category of 'vulnerable' in the same sense that the other road user groups mentioned are, so I'm not sure what 'special attention' they need.
Hugh Jones

Agree (9) | Disagree (8)

Is there something in the water? What is it with the recent rush of demands for new laws from cyclists and horse riders. As Bob has hinted, motorcyclists are also a vulnerable road user group and yet have had to learn to live with a lack of sufficient attention from government over many years. No more preferential treatment for cyclists and horse riders please until motorcyclists get their quota of special attention too. (That will be never then?)
Mr P J A Bates

Agree (20) | Disagree (11)

While we are at it maybe they should also undertake at least 6 months on a scooter or motorcycle. We know the answer to that.. no chance. How about all cyclists learning the Highway Code and undertaking numerous expensive driving lessons to know the dangers of cycling and how to behave on the roads?
R.Craven Blackpool

Agree (29) | Disagree (14)