The newly launched BikeAware campaign aims to modify the current UK driving test so that practical evidence of cycle awareness would be a condition of obtaining a UK driving licence.
The proposal from long-standing cycle campaigner David Love is for driving test candidates to sit a new module including on-road cycling before passing their driving test, unless exempted through prior Bikeability training or disability.
Love, founder of the 3 Feet Please and Share the Road campaigns, vice-chair of the London Cycling Campaign and one of the founding fathers of London Skyride, told BikeRadar: "I think cycle awareness training for new drivers is our greatest chance to drive a step change in the number of cyclists on Britain's roads."
Love feels such a measure would be the quickest and most effective way to improve life for all cyclists. "Some campaigners call for a European utopia where we all glide along in segregated but perfect harmony. In many UK towns and cities, we don’t have the space, we don’t have the time and now we don’t have the money," he said. "Infrastructure benefits are only felt by those using that facility at that time. Changing the attitude of drivers towards cyclists - who are often the same people – has the power to affect all cyclists everywhere, any time."
BikeAware aims to "build a coalition of interests to lobby, press and cajole" and sees car, bus and truck companies, car rental firms, driving schools, taxi/minicab providers as first ports of call for those who will sign up to BikeAware's principles. The ultimate aim is to persuade the Department for Transport to change the driving test.
Roger Geffen, Campaigns and Policy Director for the CTC, reacted positively to BikeAware, telling BikeRadar: "We are certainly very happy to back BikeAware. I hope all cycling campaign groups are involved in the gameplan to implement what is clearly a very laudable aspiration. We know the current Road Safety Minister Mike Penning is very interested in this particular issue of driver training and cycle safety as we discussed it during a recent meeting. We hope to continue the discussion in future meetings."
Geffen also revealed the driving test had also been a subject of debate within his organisation: "In fact, CTC have also discussed the idea for there to be a reduction in the cost of the driving test fee for those who have passed Bikeability training level 3."
Geffen told BikeRadar that he would like to see the current government progress research, abandoned by their Labour predecessors, that would attempt to establish if there was a link between cycle training and driver behaviour. That is to say whether those with cycle training also make safer drivers.
Geffen was, however, pleased that the CTC had persuaded the previous government to agree that road safety targets for cyclists should be based on the rate of accidents per kilometre rather than the actual total of injured and killed cyclists – in other words their 'Safety in Numbers' argument has been adopted by the government.
What do you think? Would providing cycle-awareness training for those taking the driving test make a big difference to cyclists on the roads? Should those being tested be given financial incentives to undertake Bikeability training? Write your comments in the box below.