Views From Abroad

A press release hit my desk today about the Road Safety Strategy – 2020, which was launched last week by the Department of the Environment (DOE).

The press release issued by Jeff Stone with comments by Chris Hodder, the BMF’s (British Motorcyclists Federation) Government Relations Executive based in London, states that “Compulsory Basic Training has not yet been implemented in Northern Ireland”.

However as we riders in Northern Ireland are aware, Compulsory Basic Training (CBT) was introduced in our wee province officially on Monday 21st February 2011 – i.e. just over a month ago.

This seemed strange, considering that we have been reporting over the last year on the proposals for CBT and together with the BMF’s Chair of the Northern Ireland Region, Howard Anderson (with whom we have an excellent working relationship), we have had our views represented on the stakeholders group that has delivered the CBT scheme.

The BMF (GB) also stated in their press release that, “it maintains its objection to a proposed ban on unaccompanied riding by learner motorcyclists.”

If this were the case, we would gladly join the BMF in opposing any such ban on all unaccompanied riding by learner motorcyclists.

However, the BMF’s statement is misleading.  The reason is because although the Northern Ireland Road Safety Strategy states, “We will consider amending the licensing system to prohibit or significantly reduce the opportunity for learner motorcyclists from riding motorcycles unaccompanied”, what was not made clear is that this is tied in with proposals regarding the introduction of the Third EC Driving Licence Directive

Last year the DOE issued a consultation on proposals for implementing the 3rd EC Directive On Driving Licences in Northern Ireland, including the Summary of Consultation Responses, the Department’s Response, and Next Steps, which were all published in January this year.

The DOE has specifically indicated that learner riders who ride accompanied refers to the following: “All riders wishing to ride category A2 or A motorcycles who have not yet qualified for a full licence for the larger category, will have to be accompanied by an Approved Motorcycle Instructor (AMI) when riding on the roads – whether in direct access or progressive access routes”.

What this means is that a rider who has a full licence for a smaller motorcycle can ride a larger motorcycle as the rider progresses to the next category of licence.  But in this circumstance and only in this circumstance, the rider must be accompanied by an Approved Motorcycle Instructor (AMI).

This is advantageous for riders moving towards a test to ride a larger motorcycle.  The larger motorcycle will have differing weights and handling characteristics which will ensure that a rider is better prepared to handle a larger bike.

Furthermore, the DOE states “As the rider progresses to the next category of licence, they will no longer be restricted to 45 miles per hour which will allow them to be tested at higher speeds on test routes which will be more demanding.”

We have already stated and agree with the BMF when they say they support the setting up of a user forum (although it is effectively a Motorcycle Forum including ALL stakeholders and not just users) and especially “the dropping of earlier proposals for lower speed limits for motorcycles, the consideration of motorcycling in the design of new roads, installing motorcycle ‘friendly’ barriers, the development of a motorcycling safety strategy for Northern Ireland and an approved motorcycle instructor register”. (this approved motorcycle instructor register was introduced on the 29th November 2010.)

At Right To Ride we look forward to continuing our excellent relationship with the BMF in Northern Ireland as we work towards the proposed motorcycle forum and the development of a motorcycling safety strategy for Northern to deliver a relevant and non restrictive strategy for motorcycling.

Information

Road Safety Strategy To 2020 at Right To Ride – Click Here

CBT for N Ireland at Right To Ride – Click Here

Licence Directive at Right To Ride – Click Here

BMF – Good and Bad in Northern Ireland Road Safety Strategy

Press Release on the BMF website – Click Here

25 March 2011

The British Motorcyclists Federation have today given a mixed reaction to the publication of the Northern Ireland Road Safety Strategy to 2020.

While the BMF welcomes the setting up of a user forum and especially the dropping of earlier proposals for lower speed limits for motorcycles, it maintains its objection to a proposed ban on unaccompanied riding by learner motorcyclists. This is a premature proposal say the BMF given that Compulsory Basic Training has not yet been implemented in Northern Ireland.

The new strategy* follows a wide ranging consultation process in which while motorcycling was recognised as a key part, it was seen more as a victim of circumstances and not as is often the case, the sole cause of casualties.

In submitting its views the BMF supported the setting up of a user forum and is pleased to see that this has been included in the strategy. It has also welcomed the fact that a proposal it objected to, the introduction of differential speed limits for motorcycles, has been dropped.

Amongst many other measures the BMF supported and are now included in the strategy, is the consideration of motorcycling in the design of new roads, installing motorcycle ‘friendly’ barriers, the development of a motorcycling safety strategy for Northern Ireland and an approved motorcycle instructor register.

Commenting Chris Hodder, the BMF’s Government Relations Executive said: “We are pleased that many of our comments have been accepted, but the ban on unaccompanied learning is unnecessary and will be disastrous for the small bike market. It shouldn’t even be considered until the CBT system has had a chance to play out.”

The BMF will now play a full part in the new forum and be pressing home its views, particularly on the learner rider aspects.

*The strategy document can be found at:

http://www.roadsafetyni.gov.uk/northern_ireland_s_road_safety_strategy_to_2020_final_version.pdf

Ends

Issued by Jeff Stone: t: 0121 709 1040 m: 07802 763094 e: jeff.stone@bmf.co.uk

Details on this and other bmf activities can also be found on our web site: www.bmf.co.uk

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  1. We sent our concerns to the BMF and to Visordown where the BMF press release appeared.

    Visordown have now posted this:

    Correction: As highlighted by righttoride in the comments below, the BMF incorrectly stated in the press release that the CBT had yet to be implemented into the Northern Ireland motorcycle learning scheme. Jeff Stone from the BMF adds to the retraction: “Since CBT was only introduced in Northern Ireland in February this year, the BMF want time for CBT to bed in before such action is considered.”

    http://www.visordown.com/motorcycle-news–general-news/motorcycle-law-shake-up-in-northern-ireland/17610.html#comment

    However the interpetation of the ban on unaccompanied riding is still wrong as the BMF are still suggesting that all learner riders will have to ride accompanied.