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Wing Commander
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MPs on the Transport committee have slated the introduction of the new test for bikers fearing the drop in riders taking the test means more will ride illegally.

“The introduction of the new European motorcycle test in the UK has not gone smoothly and efficiently, despite a very long lead-in period. An opportunity to work closely with the industry to improve road safety for motorcyclists and other road users through better motorcycle training and testing has, at least in part, been missed,” it said

The MPs said: “We broadly support the approach the Government has taken to the test itself. We do not agree with some witnesses that the EU Directive has been 'gold-plated' by the inclusion of too many, or too taxing exercises in the UK version of the test.

No common sense
“We are confident that, in itself, the new test could help to improve the standards of motorcycling, but by failing to obtain a derogation from the EU Directive on the speed requirement and by insisting on the introduction of Multi Purpose Test Centres (MPTCs), the Government has failed to apply common sense and work flexibly with the industry.

“If the result is that more riders refrain from taking the test, either riding illegally or continuing to ride on the basis of their CBT the new test could yet turn out to be a retrograde step. We do not yet know whether this is the case, but the data, which will eventually be able to tell us either way, needs to be collected.

MPs were highly critical of the UK decision to open new test centres that meant riders having to travel along dangerous roads to get to their tests.

Only in the UK
“Other EU countries have implemented the new motorcycle test without any need for large test sites, equivalent to Multi Purpose Test Centres (MPTC). It is tempting to conclude that other priorities may have coloured the Government's decision to implement MPTCs in the UK.

“This has been an expensive adventure, but the Government now needs to look forward and make the best of it. The focus on large 'super-sites' should be accompanied by a renewed emphasis on customer convenience and value for money.

Keep some smaller sites
“This will probably mean retaining some smaller test sites, which in turn may require the retention of a modified version of the test which can be performed at comparatively small sites.

MPs salted the Driving Standards Agency’s(DSA) “dogmatic approach” and its “failure to introduce the test smoothly and on time”.

“We expect to see rapid progress on the development of a more customer-focused approach to the booking and delivery of tests. This has implications for the number and geographical spread of test sites, site opening hours, practice sessions and test booking systems.

BMF welcomes report
The British Motorcyclists Federation (BMF) welcomed the findings of the Transport Select Committee’s

“The BMF totally supports the main conclusions of the committee that the Government’s decision to introduce large Multi Purpose Test Centres (MPTCs) and close down many small, convenient motorcycle test sites was ‘unjustified’, that it’s implementation was “bungled” and that it “was unacceptable that the Driving Standards Agency has failed to get all 66 planned centres operational, therefore delaying introduction of the new test,” it said.


Ministers condemned
“The BMF is pleased to note that the Committee also ‘condemns Ministers’ failure to negotiate an exemption from the EU requirement that parts of the test should be performed at 50 km/h (31.07 mph).

“The Committee MPs said that ‘it is both bizarre and confusing that tests should be performed at speeds not permitted on the public highway in built-up areas, and that it should be measured in units not commonly used in the UK’.”

BMF government relations executive Chris Hodder said: “We have always maintained that the government should have negotiated a derogation from this directive, so allowing most of the testing to be done on UK roads, however, this is now so it is a matter of real urgency that the Government takes heed of this damning report and at the least increases the number of operational test centres.”

 
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