July 28 2008.

The Motor Cycle Industry Association (MCI) is today calling for the introduction of the new motorcycle test to be delayed by six months. The Institute of Advanced Motorists (IAM), the Motorcycle Action Group (MAG) and the British Motorcyclists Federation (BMF) is supporting this call.

On September 29th the motorcycle test is due to change to introduce new manoeuvres required under a European Directive. The DSA has chosen to implement the directive by concentrating motorcycle tests at about 60 planned multi-purpose test centres (MPTC) around the UK. Currently there are around 260 motorcycle test centres and the DSA plan, if it had been successful, slashes this number by 80%.

The motorcycle community call has been prompted by the disclosure this week that only 39 test centres, nationwide, will be opened ahead of the major changes in September. This follows several months of rising concern about the DSA's inability to deliver the promised number of new test sites, culminating in recent weeks, with 'desperate' appeals from the DSA's Chief Executive, Rosemary Thew, for public help in securing planning permissions.

The current round of public sector strikes has compounded the problem, with riding tests cancelled, further adding to the pressure for motorcycle tests after the end of September.

In May, MCI called on the DSA to allow transitional measures to ensure that motorcycle tests could still be delivered. The response has been lacklustre, with the offer of 13 VOSA (Vehicle and Operator Services Agency) sites at weekends only and unrealistic proposals to split certain aspects of the new test.

MCI's Craig Carey-Clinch said: "With the implementation date of the new test only nine weeks away, it is clear that unless action is taken, the whole motorcycle test system will fall into complete chaos, with candidates in many parts of the country unable to secure a motorcycle test. This is why we now feel that it is essential that the introduction of the new test is delayed so that the full range of test sites can be completed and coverage beyond the promised 60 sites can be explored. Without a delay there is a danger that the motorcycle testing system may collapse.

MCI has received information from Europe that France and Italy, among possibly other countries, are also likely to seek a delay. It has also been discovered that a delay will not automatically lead to European Court fines for the UK Government.

Carey-Clinch commented; "We now know that some EU members are frequently not in a position to respect Directive deadlines, either for legitimate internal reasons, or due to lack of serious preparation. Infraction procedures are only engaged if countries are belligerently refusing to introducing a Directive, or are asking for an unreasonable delay. Six months additional preparation time does not represent an unreasonable delay.

"The current situation in the UK makes it clear that the notion that the Government should stick by its guns and introduce the new test, as originally planned, is no longer acceptable or reasonable to the industry. To be frank, the UK motorcycle world has lost patience with DSA's ineptitude and lack of realism on this matter."

MCI believes that if the new test is introduced at the end of September as planned, the whole motorcycle test system is likely to crash and administrative chaos will ensue, which will discourage people from taking their riding test, with this compromising longer term road safety goals.

MCI has written to Transport Minister Jim Fitzpatrick MP, outlining the reasons why a delay is now essential.

In separate move, MCI has also written to the Chairman of the Parliamentary Transport Select Committee, asking for Parliament to investigate the new motorcycle test, why it was decided to implement it in the fashion that was chosen and once that decision was made, what led to such a chaotic situation regarding new test sites to arise in the first place.