UK Driving Standards Agency Gets a Slapped Wrist for Bike Test Fiasco.

The UK’s beleaguered Government has been described as being ‘inept’ for its botched handling of the introduction of the European Bike Test last year.  The test which is still controversial, having caused injuries, including a recent near-miss fatality, and damaged or destroyed dozens of training businesses, has resulted in a huge drop in people graduating from L-plates.  The knock on effect to all areas of the industry has yet to be fully felt, hidden amongst the general downturn, but should the UK pull free of recession in any meaningful way, the lack of new bikers spending in showrooms could be disastrous.

The cross-party Transport Committee has said “the new combination of tests is likely to help improve road safety, provided that the government and the industry work together, and that training for other road users to improve their awareness of motorcyclists on the road is improved too”.  However the Committee also said the smaller test sites could have been retained saving millions of pounds, and the DSA had failed to listen adequately to the motorcycle industry.

The committee’s chairman, Louise Ellman, said: “Many candidates and trainers now have to travel too far for their motorcycle test.  “This adds to the cost, and in some cases, exposes candidates to fast and dangerous roads on the way to a test site”.

It has been quoted that some riders are negotiating 100+ miles of a trip to get to a test by which time they’re exhausted and in no fit state to be taking a fair crack at passing.  No doubt this issue will rumble on for some time to come.  Unfortunately the longer it does the worse the longterm effects on motorcycling in the UK will become.

A spokesman for the Driving Standards Agency said the organisation would respond fully to all recommendations in the report at a later date.

It may take some time for them to make up even a half-assed excuse!

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New ‘Write to Ride’ Article – Think – Named Riders Campaign

Our partners over at Write to Ride have a new article up featuring the UK Government’s new ‘Named Riders’ campaign, part of its ‘THINK!’ road safety strategy.

The new £3.5 million campaign marks a radical departure for THINK! after research showed drivers are more likely to notice motorcyclists on the roads if they personally know them.

The Think! adverts put motorcyclists at the centre of the new campaign in a bid to encourage all drivers to see the person behind the helmet.

Right To Ride’s, Trevor Baird says, “This is another well thought out advert from the DfT and we hope that it gets aired here in Northern Ireland, rather than the blood guts and gore campaign ads we suffer here in Northern Ireland, that in our opinion push the viewer away from road safety, instead of pulling them in”.

Head over to Write to Ride for more on this story.

The 40 second version of the THINK! advert is below and on-line at our YouTube Channel RideTheWildWindTV ;

UK Hydrogen Highway, a road to nowhere?..

UK ministers will reveal plans for a network of refuelling stations along the M4, between London and South Wales.  This will allow all the UK’s hydrogen powered vehicle owners to top up their tanks, as long as this is your regular route of course.  For bikers your road weapon of choice will be Suzuki’s Burgman hydrogen fuel cell scooter…

It sounds good from an eco-perspective, but is it a case of the government backing the wrong horse in terms of vehicle technology just to boost their green credentials?  Personally speaking hydrogen is the wrong choice for such a costly investment of public funds.  The energy required to produce it negates any benefit, mostly clean exhaust emissions, from the vehicle and it is hard to get to market and store.  While there are some gains in range over purely electric vehicles this is closing all the time, and battery efficiency is also improving.  The other advantage is that when you charge a battery it will hold it’s power a lot longer than a hydrogen fuel cell.  Fill your fuel cell on a Monday and don’t use it all by the end of the week, and you’ll find it’s gone anyway, as hydrogen leaks through the walls of its container over time, wonderful.

There is a growing acceptance of electric bikes and most major manufacturers are working on one or two concepts with Yamaha’s Gen-Ryu still looking pretty good.

More importantly the infrastructure to charge them exists and it isn’t costly to add a socket, even a high capacity one, to a garage forecourt, work place car park, or pole on the pavement.  Unfortunately the UK government yet again wastes public money on bad green advice rather than taking a more informed long-term look on environmental issues.

Wonder if there’s a minister on the board of the company doing the H2 installations? hmmmm….

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