With even more rules and regulations being introduced for motorcycle licences, it would seem that it is becoming increasingly difficult to get onto two wheels. 2013 saw the introduction of 3DLD a.k.a. regulations to limit the power of the machine that you can ride at certain ages, but is it really harder than ever before?
When you think about the number of rules and regulations that have been introduced and compare this against the number of people booking/passing their tests there is a definite opposite correlation - as the number of regulations increases, the number on the road decreases.
There are a number of factors which in my mind have affected the number of people getting onto a motorcycle. The most prominent, in my opinion, being: introduction of new rules, the attitude of wider society towards motorcycles and the influx of traffic on the roads.
Speaking with people over the age of 50 you find that getting on to bikes 'was a lot easier in their day', they are from the generation when motorcycles didn't cost a lot and you could ride around your local village roads, across fields and play around on them with friends. They were essentially the best mode of transport for many, the work horses of the day, with a low running cost and a cool image to accompany them. However over time, with the rules about protective clothing increasing, the hurdles to pass your test getting higher and harder and the negative side of biking being more prevalent, it could be said that 'biking ain't what it used to be'.
To show what I mean about society's attitude towards bikers, I will highlight a recent story that has been in the news - the Oxford dictionary has just recently changed the definition of what a biker is. The online version previously defined biker as: "A motorcyclist, especially one who is a member of a gang: a long-haired biker in dirty denims." It is now listed as: "A motorcyclist, especially one who is a member of a gang or group: a biker was involved in a collision with a car." I still would have to say that this could be improved...
Believe it or not, I am a 22 year old female, with mid length hair, not a member of a gang or group and I don't plan on having any collisions with a car. Along with a lot of other riders, I value my bike too much.
So how can we get more people onto two wheels?
I think the plan of action needs to be contributed to by the whole motorcycling community, including: manufacturers, government bodies, insurance companies and most importantly motorcyclists themselves. Manufacturers need to ensure they make machines that are affordable and suitable for all types of needs and requirements, government bodies need to get rid of as much of the red tape and expensive hoops for people to obtain their licences, insurance companies need to make the cost of insurance acceptable and the fellow motorcyclists need to be accommodating and supportive of others getting into it.
All that would of course be in an ideal world....alternatively; I could just think about mass producing the rose tinted glasses I wear everyday...
For more information about the new rules such as 3DLD check out: https://www.gov.uk/motorcycle-practical-test/rules-for-mopeds-and-motorcycles-used-in-the-practical-riding-test