During the community-spirited, clap-for-carers era of the first national lockdown the Government made the decision to allow essential workers to continue to take CBTs and bike tests to make sure they remained mobile and could avoid public transport. But in the current lockdown there’s no such provision and a growing number of learners are finding their CBT certificates expired with no means to renew them or to take a test for a full licence.
Not necessarily a problem if you ride purely for pleasure, but for those L-platers using bikes to commute to essential work or even as the basis of their livelihoods as delivery riders, it’s a serious issue.
The Motorcycle Action Group (MAG) has raised the subject with the Government, but at the moment there’s no indication that the official position will change. Replying to MAG’s concerns, Baroness Vere, Minister for Roads, Buses and Places, said:
“The pandemic has been an unprecedented challenge for us all. Following the Prime Minister’s announcement of the national lockdown in England, the Driver and Vehicle Standards Agency has once again had to suspend driver and rider training testing. I fully appreciate the challenges this causes learners, but the Prime Minister, on the advice of scientific advisors, was clear we need to take action to protect the NHS and save lives. Our main priority must be that everyone is safe.
“CBT helps to ensure riders can ride safely on their own with L-plates while they prepare to take the full moped or motorcycle test. We expect learner motorcycle riders to go on and take and pass their full test within the two-year validity of their CBT certificate. If they do not do that within this timeframe, they will need to renew their CBT.”
Despite the fact that CBTs and tests remained available for critical workers during the first lockdown, the Baroness’s reply puts forward increased costs and risks of spreading coronavirus as the reasons for the different position under the current rules. She wrote: “Completing CBT using a candidate’s own machine would still involve the mixing of households; a minimum of at least three households would be mixing at any one time, which goes against Government guidance. CBT is a mixture of classroom-based assessments and on-site road training and it is not cost effective to run this on a one-to-one basis. Further, even if training was run on a one-to-one basis, there are parts of the syllabus which are completed inside a classroom, which again contravenes Government guidelines.
“Those riding on a CBT certificate are novice riders – they have not passed a motorcycle test and have not demonstrated the knowledge, skills and competence of a full licence holder. They remain one of the most vulnerable groups of road users and it is incumbent on us all to help them to stay safe.
“The Government’s position remains that it has no current plans to extend the validity period for CBT pass certificates. Motorcyclists are one of the most vulnerable groups of road users. Riders will need to complete another course if their CBT certificate expires to continue riding, or ideally, take further training to take and pass a motorcycle test to put themselves in the best and safest position longer term.”
James Beddows, founder of RideTo, a web platform for learner riders which simplifies the process of getting on two wheels, said: "We are speaking to Critical Workers on a daily basis who are in distress. Doctors worried about how they can safely get to work, delivery riders who are losing their livelihoods through no fault of their own. Whilst we fully support the necessary restrictions to fight the pandemic, if feels like something needs to be done to help our Critical Workers and keep them moving on motorcycles or scooters for their essential work. The recent refusal from the Government to consider an extension to CBTs or allow training for these Critical Workers feels like a counterproductive decision, where two wheels can be part of the solution. The industry showed during the first lockdown that motorcycle training can be delivered in a Covid secure environment for Critical Workers."
Bennetts PR, Brand & Events Manager, Luke Brackenbury, said, “The announcement that riders whose two-year Compulsory Basic Training certificate validity expires during the current lockdown and would not be granted an extension while training centres and schools are closed came as a disappointment to Bennetts.
“For those that this affects, who are still riding during lockdown, many will be key workers and this move could be forcing them on to public transport. With motorcycling being one of the most socially distant forms of transport, we would have expected a different approach to be taken.
“If a customer takes out a policy with Bennetts and their CBT runs out during the period of their insurance, we will not be cancelling their policy. We will advise the customer that given their inability to renew their CBT is completely out of their control, and indeed a result of lockdown restrictions, their policy will remain in force. We will make it very clear that they must renew their CBT as soon as CBT centres are open and that it is a legal requirement to have a CBT in place to ride on the roads, but they can be at least reassured that their bike is protected against theft, and ready for the moment they can take their test and ride again.”