Learner drivers ‘need cycle awareness’ training

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The president of a sports club which has lost two of its members in horror road smashes has called for cycle awareness training to become a compulsory part of the driving test.

Gavin Calder, president of the Edinburgh Triathletes, made the call in the wake of the deaths of vice-president Andrew McMenigall and founding member Douglas Brown in separate collisions within weeks of each other.

Both were struck by freight vehicles while cycling.

Mr Calder wants to see learner drivers experience riding a bike themselves, enabling them to appreciate how vulnerable cyclists are on the road.

It comes as a giant tombstone was left outside the Scottish Parliament by the campaign group Pedal on Parliament in memory of eight cyclists killed on Scotland’s roads this year.

But the number of deaths has already risen to nine after a woman in her 50s was yesterday killed in a collision with a car in the Highlands.

Mr McMenigall, from Craigleith, was one of two cyclists hit and killed by a lorry in Cornwall at the start of a Land’s End to John O’Groats bike ride for charity.

The 47-year-old, who was married with two daughters, was with his colleague, Toby Wallace, 36, just hours into a 960-mile fundraiser in 
Cornwall on July 2.

Nine days later, Mr Brown, 79, from Leith, died of multiple injuries after being hit by a truck as he cycled on the B9080 Linlithgow to Kirkliston road.

His family joined with campaigners Pedal on Parliament in demanding improved cycle safety in Scotland yesterday.

Mr Calder said: “I’m a cyclist and a driver and until you have actually cycled it’s really difficult to appreciate the vulnerability of cyclists on the road.

“There needs to be more of a recognition of cycling in the driving test – before you are allowed to go out on a road in a car you should be made to have some training on a bike.

“Some cyclists do things that annoy me, like jumping red lights, there needs to be respect on both sides and cyclists need to follow the Highway Code.”

Mr Calder also called for the introduction of a strict liability law, which would see the more powerful road user liable by default in crashes involving vulnerable users, unless it could be clearly proven the 
latter was at fault.

A Downing Street petition calling for changes to the driving test to make cycle awareness a core part of driver training – with emphasis on how much space to give cyclists and how to safely overtake – has been signed by more than 17,800 people.

But a response read: “We cannot realistically ensure that all practical tests include an assessment of the candidate’s interaction with vulnerable road users.”

Green councillor and regular cyclist Gavin Corbett said: “I drive a car occasionally and it seems a glaring omission that there is nothing in the driving test at present, given that the cyclists are the most vulnerable road users.

“If we are to really transform the way cycling works in the Capital, we are going to have to give a much larger number of would-be cyclists the confidence that drivers will treat them with respect and 

“So that means much better training, for sure, coupled with tough action on drivers who cannot act responsibly.”