This issue is important because as well as being a great leisure and tourism activity, more and more people are using bikes to get to work as a cheaper form of transport than trains or buses, plus of course motorcycles are often great at getting through congested traffic. The main problem is that instead of there being one type of motorcycle licence, the EU has introduced three under the ‘Third Driving Licence Directive’, with each having different rules attached to licence acquisition. Many of these rules relate to minimum ages and how riders upgrade from smaller bikes to larger ones.
In summary, the categories are:
- AM (mopeds) age 16
- A1 (125cc) age 17
- A2 (medium powered bikes) from age 19
- A (all bikes from 21)
The dealer Doble have published Honda’s visual guide here. You can see the system is non-trivial.
To ‘upgrade’ from an ‘A1’ to an ‘A’ licence, riders will have to repeat the same motorcycle test at each stage, with a two year delay before progressing to the next stage. I am at a loss to understanding what repeating the same test will achieve for road safety: good quality rider training should open the door to each licensing category.
It used to be the case that over 21s could gain ‘direct access’ to the largest category via a single training and testing route, but this has now risen to age 24. My main concern is that the system has become very complicated for young people who really need the kind of cost effective and practical transport that biking represents. In my view this discriminates against young people, who deserve freedom of choice in meeting their transport needs. I am calling for a small simplification of the system which would reduce the costs and bureaucracy of getting a larger bike licence.
This would be to replace the requirement for additional motorcycle tests with a requirement for a rider training course which would bring a qualification for licence upgrade. I feel that this would be better for road safety and would be more useful to motorcyclists than the ‘hurdle’ of a repeated test.
When the Euro licence was introduced, against the wishes of our Government, the Department for Transprt did say that it would introduce an option for riders to take a training upgrade between each licensing stage, after an initial full test had been passed in either A1 or A2 – once it had made some changes to how motorcycle trainers were registered and accredited. I hear that work is progressing in this area but I feel it’s now time for the Government to set in train the steps needed to fulfil its commitment to the training, rather than testing, route.
I have therefore tabled the following question to the Secretary of State:
If he will replace the requirement for novice motorcycle riders to take more than one full motorcycle test to pass through rider licensing stages with a training requirement for licensing progression through each stage after an initial full motorcycle test has been taken and if he will make a statement
Ultimately, this is yet another example of bureaucratic excess from the EU. Rider and driver licensing is an area which should be part of our EU renegotiation so we can get on with simple and effective testing and training.