A motorcycle association said it had been able to teach complete novices to ride a scooter with ease in five minutes, pushing its case that motorists should qualify for motorcycle licences. How easy do you think it would be?

The Association of Motorcycle Importers & Distributors (Amid) said it had been able to teach complete novices to ride a scooter with ease in five minutes, pushing its case to give motorists motorcycle licences.

The association was responding to reader comments on the CARtoday.com website where some felt that the skills used to drive a car and operate a motorcycle were completely different.

Amid is lobbying the Department of Transport to allow motorists to automatically qualify for a motorcycle licence not exceeding 200 cc in capacity as a way of alleviating the urban congestion problems in the country.

“It has been with some interest that I viewed the comments of firstly CAR technical editor Jake Venter, followed by the various readers’ comments. Without disputing that there are risks and dangers associated with two-wheeled transport, be it a proper motorcycle or a scooter, we … believe that the positives of commuting on two wheels far outweigh the negatives,” said Amid national director Arnold Olivier.

Venter said he did not agree that motorists should be allowed to automatically qualify for motorcycle licences. “The skills needed are completely different and making the adjustment is not easy. Braking is complicated because you have to learn how to coordinate the front and rear brakes using one hand and one foot. In fact, I would go so far as to say that very few motorcyclists know how to execute a good emergency stop,” he said.

Amid said it had managed to teach motorists to ride scooters fairly easily. “During 2003, Amid had on two occasions had the opportunity to teach people how to ride on scooters and quads at our Amid Motorcycle Lifestyle Expo, held at Kyalami annually during late April or early May, and the Auto Africa Expo, which is held every two years at Nasrec.

“At both Expos, we taught complete novices to ride scooters and quads. Our experience was that generally, we could teach someone, who had never been on a powered two-wheeler before, to successfully negotiate our laid out course after approximately five minutes of tuition. Five minutes is probably the average, as some took longer and some learned faster.

“Only in very few cases were we unable to get someone going, and then generally because of balance and/or co-ordination problems. There were however a number of people who at first seemed hopeless, but became successful after about 10 minutes,” said Olivier.

“Those who had a car licence were generally able to do our course much faster. They were used to the concept of using power to accelerate, and being familiar with braking. Concepts such as “look where you are going and the bike will follow” were as usual invaluable and made it much easier for people to pick up the necessary skills.

“One does however realise that there is more to riding a bike, than going around a safe course in a car park after five minutes. There is no substitute for experience, but this is also true for motor cars, and as one reader commented, “these skills are not taught when you do your licence”.

“We would always advocate that potential motorcyclists first attend a formal training school or, as a minimum, get tuition from an experienced rider. Appropriate protective gear is also important. It is amazing what for example a pair of decent gloves can do to prevent injury, even in a minor parking lot spill.

“The mere fact that someone will get training and kit up properly, will probably ensure that his attitude and approach to operating a two-wheeled vehicle is responsible and cautious, and these factors will all contribute to a vastly diminished risk factor. In reality, concepts that are no different for drivers of motor cars,” said Olivier.

What do you think?