Compulsory Cycling Proficiency Test?

by TRs Blurb n Blog   April 9, 2009  

This morning a young woman cycling was killed by a left turning lorry. As a rule of thumb, being a cyclist in London, I don't undertake lorries or buses, especially bendy buses. But my rules are made up by me and many hours spent on the road avoiding accidents. So why shouldn't novice cyclists be told how to minimise the danger of the road, perhaps make it compulsory when purchasing a bike after all, you do when you buy a 50cc moped?

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hm. thorny one, that. my main objection would be that:

1) the one thing that's proven, time and time again, to make cycling safer is simple: more cyclists.

2) any kind of compulsion (tests, helmets, registration) cuts the uptake of cycling.

purplecup's picture

posted by purplecup [233 posts]
9th April 2009 - 15:15

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It's sort of happening now, but in the usual piecemeal British fashion, aren't Cycling England, CTC, Sustrans involved in bringing new cycling proficience training in to schools - one of my kids did the new one and it was very thorough. Sadly though, uptake amongst schools is not uniform and it is voluntary. The ideal would be Dave Brailsford's idea of making cycling part of the national curriculum

On a bike somewhere…

thebikeboy's picture

posted by thebikeboy [138 posts]
9th April 2009 - 15:23

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Part of the school curriculum has to be the answer, makes more sense than Home Economics that I had to learn at school, I have never made peppermint ice since then, how did that ever help me?

Complicating matters since 1965

DaSy's picture

posted by DaSy [690 posts]
9th April 2009 - 15:54

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aside from anything else, even if the kids didn't go on to be cyclists they'd at least have an inkling of the dangers involved in riding on the road… mind you, Victoria Pendleton's suggestion that sitting on a bike and having someone drive past at 50mph should be a mandatory part of the driving test would give drivers even more of an inkling

Tony Farrelly's picture

posted by Tony Farrelly [4201 posts]
9th April 2009 - 16:17


Vicky P has got it right, ALL drivers should be forced to have a car pass them with 1foot clearance at 50mph+. Would scare 99% of them whitless.


PzychotropicMac's picture

posted by PzychotropicMac [85 posts]
10th April 2009 - 15:59


Why didnt anyone see the frankly superb section in the first cycle commuter magazine on safe cycling in cities? In fairness though a cycling proficiency test is a good idea but can only go so far. I mean I like to think I am a strong, considerate and aware cyclist but I still get into sticky situations thanks to pedestrians (crossing roads without looking) and drivers (not thinking) so it has to be education accross the board or unfortunately more terrible accidents like this will occur.

not all carbon is the same.

Jon Burrage's picture

posted by Jon Burrage [1081 posts]
10th April 2009 - 16:09

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I think a good idea would be giving instruction at the time of purchase, a bit like the safety notice before flying, and an instruction guide to take home.

It's not just about the size of your cog.

TRs Blurb n Blog's picture

posted by TRs Blurb n Blog [270 posts]
17th April 2009 - 11:08


I see a lot of bad riding. Increasingly, it's hoodies and similar know-it-all youths involved in wrong-way riding and they're probably riding stolen bikes anyway. As for lights and the rest of the Highway Code? Forget it.

I suspect it isn't training that's required, but a good repeated Tazering in the bollocks might.

Compulsory training for all road users isn't going to solve this problem, but combined with zero tolerance it might go some way to improving the situation.

posted by Recumbenteer [155 posts]
17th September 2010 - 14:37

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Bikeability is the new Cycling Proficiency. It has a good reputation. The wider and more easily accessible it is, the better. Let's hope the government doesn't axe Cycling England.

two wheels good; four wheels bad

posted by cat1commuter [1431 posts]
17th September 2010 - 15:27

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I did Bikeability level 3 and can throughly recommend it.

Overall, though, I'm concerned at the general direction this seems to be heading: that everyone needs to be in a ridiculously heightened state of awareness and training just to go out on their bike. Yes, there should be bike training in primary school, but it shouldn't be such a high-concern thing - what happened to just pootling around on a bike?? At least the idiots going the wrong way on a bike, using their phone, etc., are only endangering themselves - it's not like being George Michael after a spliff, for heaven's sake!

timlennon's picture

posted by timlennon [229 posts]
17th September 2010 - 17:08

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I'm a Bikeability instructor, and I think the main intention is to give parents the confidence in their child's ability, in order to actually let them cycle to school etc.

I think that the sheer volume and speed of traffic nowadays does require a heightened state of awareness, but only to the same extent that drivers also need to have heightened awareness nowadays compared to even just 10 or 15 years ago.

Complicating matters since 1965

DaSy's picture

posted by DaSy [690 posts]
17th September 2010 - 17:49

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I've still got my cycling proficiency test certificate from 1983! I take it we get grandfathered into this scheme?

When I was younger the neighbour bought his drivers licence from the post office for a fiver in the days before they brought in the test, he'd never sat a driving test in his life, this was also in the 80's so I doubt there are many of those out there still.

posted by dazwan [304 posts]
23rd April 2015 - 18:41

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dazwan wrote:
When I was younger the neighbour bought his drivers licence from the post office for a fiver in the days before they brought in the test, he'd never sat a driving test in his life, this was also in the 80's so I doubt there are many of those out there still.

My late grandfather had only ever ridden a motorcycle when he was called up on active service in 1939... after basic combat training he was told "you'll be driving that lorry" he protested that he'd not got a licence & had never even driven a car... a licence was duly knocked out by the RSM's sidekick and that's the one he had until he died (well renewed every 3 years like you used to have to before 1976)

Man of Lard's picture

posted by Man of Lard [92 posts]
24th April 2015 - 8:13


Clearly something is needed, although it's not rocket science is it, yet we still get idiots who will try and go up the inside of a large vehicle when it's turning. Still as long as they can get to work 5 minutes earlier it's worth the risk.

posted by Shep73 [211 posts]
26th April 2015 - 19:35