Learn to ride before you learn to drive

Nobody likes being treated like a second class citizen. And when it comes to using the road I’m tired of being treated like a second class road user just because I’m riding a bicycle. There can’t be many cyclists who don’t get cut up, blocked, driven too close too, shouted at and threatened by inconsiderate drivers on a regular basis.

What’s more, there must be thousands, if not millions of drivers and users of public transport, who, seeing the vulnerability of cyclists in traffic, are put off from taking up cycling as a means of transport.

I think there is one thing that could be done to make the roads safer and more tempting to those who wish to ride their bicycles on them, and that is to introduce a cycling component into the driving test. And I don’t mean “cycling awareness” – the theory exam question bank already includes  questions about what you should do when approaching cyclists: the theory is not the issue, everyone knows that they are supposed to slow down and give at least a car door’s width of space when overtaking. The problem is that as many people never cycle on the road, they are not aware of how it feels to be overtaken by vehicles moving 30, 40, 50 or 60mph that only give you a few inches of space, so they don’t treat cyclists with the same respect as they do other road users. So my proposal is this:

1. Every person who wishes to take a driving test should be required to undergo 10 hours of monitored cycling on various types of roads (urban, country, A and B roads).

2. They should be required to pass a cycling proficiency test.

An alternative could be to have the cycling component taken out of the driivng test and have it as an entirely separate test to be taken as a precursor to the main driving test, in much the same way as the theory test is now.

Whatever method is chosen, with the increasing traffic on the roads, something needs to be done to curtail the dangerous driving of many motorists. I don’t want to feel I’m putting my life in danger every time I go out on my bike, and we need to encourage more people to get out of their cars and save money and get healthy.