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21 January, 2004

Drivers want road test for cyclists

As a cyclist, I agree with many of the points made in this Guardian article.  For a cyclist to ride without lights, or on the pavement (US: sidewalk), or ignore traffic lights, is simply illegal, never mind damn stupid and needlessly antagonistic to motorists and pedestrians.

Cyclists are road users, with most of the same rights and obligations as car or truck drivers. Mysteriously, that sometimes gets forgotten, by car drivers thinking bikes shouldn't be on the roads and should defer to other vehicles (wrong - I daily assert as much right to be there as an articulated lorry), and by some cyclists (to be fair, a tiny minority in my personal experience) thinking they have a pedestrian's right to use the pavements.
We have enough trouble from inconsiderate drivers without giving drivers a reason to think we deserve it; so long as both parties act responsibly, it shouldn't be a matter of opposing sides, just different users sharing the same road.

  • If you don't have lights: get some, and either don't take your bike out after dark until you have lights, or get off and walk. An unlit bicycle is a hazard.
  • If you don't feel sufficiently confident to cycle in traffic, simply don't cycle at all - the pavement is not a valid alternative. Practice on designated cycle paths or minor roads at quiet times, then main roads when you're ready.
  • Traffic lights are not optional for cyclists.

I'm not sure how I feel about the titular premise of the article. On the one hand, it might deter cycle use if everyone needed a licence first. On the other hand, that might be a good idea - inexperienced cyclists can be dangerous, and are as much an annoyance to regular cycle-commuters as to any other road users. That's possibly not entirely their fault, since if they have no training whatsoever, they can't be expected to be fully competent immediately, but to use busy roads as a training ground is a bit too Darwinian!

Hence, I'd entirely support basic training for cyclists, so long as it is basic and not so onerous as to deter casual cyclists. Secondly, I feel it would be appropriate for such a scheme to be funded centrally, as a recognised budget item of transport policy, not a fee payable by cyclists.

I'd also support enforcement of existing rules - why are bad cyclists permitted to continue as they do, unchallenged by the police?

Bottom line: don't ride in a manner which damages the reputation of other cyclists, specifically me.
Oh, and try not to get yourself killed, as bad riding could so easily achieve.


Way back, when I was at junior school the police used to come into the school once a week, over a 3 month period, and teach kids how to ride a bike and they even made us read the highway code. At the of the 'course' we had to undergo a test called the cycling proficiency test.

That involved answering highway code questions correctly, plus doing various manouvers and signals on the bike, from weaving in and out of a line of traffic cones to prove you could control the bike to simulating left and right turns on 'marked out' roads in the playground, overtaking other raod users safely....... If you passed you received a certificate with your mark on it. I think I still have mine, I achieved 98% thought I cant recall how I lost two points.

Something like it should be brought back into all schools and taught on a compulsary basis. It would be a start in making kids more road/traffic aware.

Posted by coffdrop at January 22, 2004 12:38 PM
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