If you're not interested in the motorcycling content of this blog (and why would you be, you're normal, aren't you?), please read a little further anyway, as this concerns everyone who has an interest in road safety.
Motorcycles are very different from cars, which is why some of us are so fond of them as a mode of transport. On the positive side, they are generally much more agile and manoeuvrable, a lot quicker off the mark, and cheaper to run than a car. Riding is physical in a way that driving a car isn't, and this physicality is part of the pleasure. There are numerous negatives: exposure to bad weather, greater vulnerability to poor road surfaces, and of course the risk of much greater injury in the event of an accident. There are big differences in the way a bike needs to be ridden, as well. Hard braking on a bike requires skill and practice, whereas in a car most emergencies can be dealt with by mashing the middle pedal and letting the ABS sort it out. A few bits of gravel, a wet manhole cover or a spot of diesel on a corner might cause a small slide in a car as one wheel out of four loses grip. On a bike, you're down on your side and heading into the scenery.
Bikers clearly have different needs from the car driver. We are less easily seen, we fall over a lot more easily, and if we hit, or are hit by, something it causes us a lot more damage. In the Highway Code we come into the category of 'Road users requiring special care'. Sections 211 to 213 cover the approach to cyclists and bikers; briefly: look out for them as they are less easily seen, give them room when passing them (!), and be prepared for sudden changes of direction due to changes in the road surface.
All well and good. So how many questions in the driving test ask for understanding about sharing the road with motorcycles? Answer: zero. I think, given that the Highway Code is so clear on the issue, that this is a bit of an anomaly. Bennetts, the specialist motorcycle insurers, are backing a campaign to get bike-related questions included in the driving test. There is a petition which, if it reaches 100,000 signatures, will be passed to Parliament for debate. At present, there are 37,529, so it is well on the way.
If you feel that this would be a good idea, please pop along to www.bikerpetition.co.uk and add your name. It's not going to cost anything (other than Parliamentary time, and what else would they be doing anyway?), and nobody is going to be compelled to do anything or stop doing anything. The petition is just asking for a small change in focus in the structure of the driving test to ensure that the needs of motorcyclists are made a little bit more prominent.
If you do go and sign, you have my sincere thanks.