Fun things to do in lockdown

You’ve got some time on your hands, right? And you’ve run out of box sets and there isn’t an inch of bike left to polish?

So you’ve got a few minutes to write to your MP about the Government’s failure to either extend CBT certificates or allow training schools to open so that riders can renew them.

I know, you took your test 30 years ago, why do you care?

Well, we’re all getting old and creaky. Biking needs a steady supply of new riders to replace us old gimmers. The more riders that there are on the road, the safer we all are.

And many riders on L-plates rely on them to get to work, or to actually do their jobs, such as food delivery. Yes, there’s an argument that they should move on from L-plates as soon as they can – but with tests suspended that’s not an option at the moment.

My feeling is that we’re suffering more from ignorance than malice – decision-makers in DfT and Government don’t really understand how bike training and testing fundamentally differs from car learning and so we’ve been overlooked.

But if you wanted to put a tinfoil hat on, you could believe that there’s an active lobby pushing for an end to unaccompanied riding on L-plates for “road safety” reasons and we don’t want to give that view any quarter.

Now, you could sign an online petition but I’m very sceptical about them*.

Here’s a better way, that only takes a few minutes more.

1. Head to https://www.writetothem.com/

This is a brilliant website that will look up your MP, let you write a letter, and email it to them automatically – though they will email the address you give them to ask that you confirm it’s really you that wants to send the letter so look out for that in your spam.

2. Put your postcode in and the site will tell you who your MP is and open a window for you to write a letter to them.

3. Write a very polite letter asking your MP to urge the Secretary of State for Transport, Grant Shapps MP, to either extend CBTs or allow testing to resume for key workers who need their bikes to get to work or do their jobs.

Tip 1 – Keep it polite and keep politics out of it – your constituency MP is supposed to help you regardless of whether you voted for them or not, but if you didn’t, probably better not to mention that.

Tip 2 – stick to mobility/the economy/getting low paid workers to their jobs. That’s the sort of argument most likely to influence civil servants and the Conservative government.

Some points you might include-

Precedent: In the lockdown last year training providers were allowed to offer CBTs to critical workers and those with social mobility issues (i.e. getting to work), provided that they followed covid-safe procedures – in April last year the DVSA Chief Executive wrote “I’m incredibly aware that some workers including our NHS staff and those on the frontline will have an urgent need to finish their motorcycle training.”  That urgent need still exists.

Transmission: CBTs were provided in the 2020 lockdown on a 1:1 basis, reducing the risk of virus transmission. So training schools have already proved they can be covid-safe.

Safety: Riding on the roads with a CBT and L-plates is a wholly legitimate way of gaining experience on a small-capacity bike before proceeding to a full test.  The more experience a rider has the safer they are.

Keeping the economy going: Many young riders rely on their motorcycles to get to their jobs. Some of these jobs will be “essential work”. We are all being urged to avoid public transport, but a rider whose CBT licence expires will be unable to carry on riding, affecting their ability to get to work, or to do their job if they are working in the delivery sector.

4. Finish the letter with a specific request of the MP – don’t just tell them what’s wrong, ask them to do something for you: – something like: “Please could you contact the Secretary of State for Transport on my behalf and ask that the Government think again. Learner riders need either an extension to their CBTs or the ability to renew their CBT with a covid-safe traning provider, as was allowed in the first lockdown in order to allow motorcyclists to do their bit in keeping the economy going.”

5. Make a cup of tea and bask in the knowledge that you’re helping the next generation of riders.

* Boring reasons why I think this is better than online petitions – letters from MPs to Ministers have to be seen by a civil servant and a reply drafted for the Minister to approve. So they are slightly more likely to register on their consciousness as an issue that needs addressing.

Illustration from “The Motorcycle Safety Foundation’s Guide to Motorcycling Excellence.” The MSF trains new riders in the USA.

9 Comments

Filed under Riding

9 responses to “Fun things to do in lockdown

  1. Well that’s brilliant. I shall do so this evening. Thank you.

  2. Done it!
    What an excellent idea that website is. I’ve never written to an MP before… but now I have.
    I did copy and paste some of the text from your post, hope you don’t mind.

    • highwaylass

      Congratulations on breaking your lobbying duck! No problem with using some of my words, hope they might make a difference.

  3. When we visited London in 2019, I noticed these scooters with big boxes on the back. Many had odd looking “L”‘s displayed. I can’t remember where I figured out they were learners. But, it made sense, delivery scooters who were also first timers. Learners. I thought that was cool. Here in the states, you take a written test and upon passing that are turned loose for three months on whatever you can afford, talk someone into letting you have a go on, or What have you. Just a piece of flimsy paper in your pocket and turned loose on the world.
    We had various level restricted ideas proposed here. None ever took.

  4. highwaylass

    It used to be a lot more like that here in the UK – I’m one of the last who was able to do my CBT (the basic round-the-cones-in-the-parking-lot intro) then take just the one test and ride whatever I liked.

    The powers that be think we are safer if we are forced to spend time on small bikes before stepping up. There’s no science to back this up at all – all the research shows that it’s time on a bike that makes you safer, the size of the engine is not correlated with accident rate. But when did politicians ever pay attention to the evidence?

    • You youngsters and your modern, new-fangled CBTs. Up the late seventies, you just applied for a licence, when it arrived, you could ride anything up to 250cc, without even the faintest semblance of training. The dealer who delivered my first bike said “that’s the throttle, that’s the brake, that’s the clutch, the gears are down there, and the foot brake’s on the other side. Handed me the keys, got in his van and drove off. No mention of a choke, or what it might do. Much reading of the manual ensued.

  5. highwaylass

    I’m quite sure I wouldn’t pass a current test. I was never that good at slow manoeuvres. .

Leave a Reply

Fill in your details below or click an icon to log in:

WordPress.com Logo

You are commenting using your WordPress.com account. Log Out /  Change )

Google photo

You are commenting using your Google account. Log Out /  Change )

Twitter picture

You are commenting using your Twitter account. Log Out /  Change )

Facebook photo

You are commenting using your Facebook account. Log Out /  Change )

Connecting to %s