New bike laws may create 'perpetual learners'

Row of bike wheels
New regulations have been criticised as 'overcomplicated'
"When there are fewer bikes on the road, there are more collisions with cars as drivers are less observant of the presence of bikes" Paddy Tyson, Motorcycle Action Group
  • | by Kristian Dando

New motorcycle legislation due to come into force this weekend risks creating 'perpetual learner' riders and more dangerous roads, according to a spokesman for a major biking campaign group.

Paddy Tyson, spokesman for the Motorcycle Action Group, believes that new categories and licenses could mean that more motorcyclists will spend the years until they can take a Direct Access course, taking and retaking Compulsory Basic Training (CBT) - cheaper than sitting multiple riding tests, but not providing sufficient instruction for safe riding.

"It's created so much confusion in the central categories that riders may end up doing a CBT and ride a 125cc bike with L plates until they can do Direct Access," says Paddy.

The new laws state that 17-18 year olds must take their practical motorcycling test on a small-size, 125cc bike - category 'A1' under the new rules. Should they want to ride a more powerful bike, they would then have to take another test on a more powerful, 'A2' category up-to-48 bhp bike at the age of 19.

Meanwhile, older prospective motorcyclists wishing to take a Direct Access course will now have to do so on a category 'A' bike, which is over 54 bhp.

In addition, will mopeds will also be brought into line with Europe - changing from category 'P' to 'AM'.

Tyson also believes there are significant flaws in the way that riders are examined. "When riders want to take the A2 test and ride a more powerful bike, the test isn't any different - it's just on a more powerful bike. The system isn't good at improving standards," he says.

The sheer complication and expense which doing multiple tests and multiple courses of instruction entail will, Tyson believes, also put people off motorcycling - meaning more dangerous roads for other riders. "When there are fewer bikes on the road, there are more collisions with cars as drivers are less observant of the presence of bikes."

The new legislation is due to come into force on Saturday 19th January, meaning that test centres and riding schools across the country have been inundated with candidates wanting to pass their tests before the new requirements kick in. "The past two months have seen a mad dash of people coming through to do their test," says Simon Walsh, of Celtic Rider Training in South Wales.

However, snow, ice and dangerous conditions this week have meant that many riders have been left disappointed.