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Wednesday, 23 June 2010

Vannes Views 3

Motorcycle training, French style:

This looks very like the setup for the new UK bike test, with slalom cones and an alley for the swerve test. One car, labelled 'Moto-Ecole', three instructors and three instructees. And some bikes (one was a Versys, not sure about the others) with massive protective cages over handlebars and rear indicators. Pretty much crash-proof. The lesson was well under way when I passed, and I stopped to watch for a while. The girl learner was a little hesitant but gaining in confidence; there was a guy about my age who seemed more at ease, and a guy who may not have been a learner at all, who whooped through the slalom almost decking the pegs and clearly enjoying himself.

The key is the location: in a small side-road off a large car-park. This was no official, certified and inspected council-approved site, just somewhere the instructors thought could be adapted to the purpose. In the UK, riding schools are closing down because of the lack of 'appropriate' training areas which are 'approved' by some distant bureaucrat. In France, they are getting on with it, using any suitable bit of tarmac to get the job done. Another example of the UK taking an EU Directive and gold-plating it, where the 'original' Europeans take short cuts and don't bat an eyelid.

And the instruction seemed to be good, with plenty of individual attention and patience. When I left, they were donning the hi-viz vests and radio kits and going off on the road, into the city traffic. I reckoned they would all be fine.

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