Let's make cycling safer

Driver education is top priority

Maybe you already ride a bike. Or perhaps you don't, but would like to. Fear of traffic is the main reason more people don't cycle in the UK.

80% of adult cyclists drive, but only 10% of Britain's 43 million drivers ride a bike once a week or more. Few will know how it feels to be compromised by a motor vehicle.

Close calls and collisions are mostly caused by a moment’s distraction or carelessness, aggravated by inexperience. They can have serious and lasting consequences for the rider or walker, at scant risk to the driver.

To be a safe driver we often need to think as a cyclist. Yet most young adults, even though they may own a bike, see themselves not as cyclists, but as drivers.

The driving test curriculum embeds this belief by placing physical control before attitude and awareness. No wonder there's discord amongst road users where there should be harmony.

The Proposal

Before commencing the practical driving test, all candidates should satisfy the examiner that they can demonstrate minimum standards of cycle awareness.

In addition to specific cycling questions within the theory and hazard perception test, candidates (other than those exempted by disability) should either have completed a recent Bikeability assessment, or show similar evidence of cycle awareness by means of a practical cycling test.

Act today, change tomorrow

This simple scheme would change the cycling landscape forever. Exposure to cycling in traffic would create a generation of drivers better attuned to accommodate cyclists and pedestrians.

Fewer close calls and collisions, especially those involving high risk age groups, would reduce deaths, injuries and NHS costs, whilst greater mutual respect would inspire less confident cyclists, particularly women, to saddle up.

Everyone wins

Driver training costs would continue to be met by the user, enabling the government to leave an explicit cycling legacy to our children at no cost to the taxpayer.

Legitimising cycling as a natural transport choice would help create a level playing field whose benefits would be shared by all road users.

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