Geoff Gregor, Bike Examiner (Rebel with a cause)
He started with Gloucester Police in 1972 then transferred in 1974 to the newly formed Avon and Somerset force, starting on Traffic cars and then 20 years later starting on the bikes after being challenged by his then Sergeant that he wouldn’t be able make it. (The rebel took great delight, when the same person became his Sergeant.). He retired in 2003, but has been examining since 2002, and has with RoSPA introduced Training schemes in Greece and Turkey.
Geoff is very busy with testing and living in Frome covers North Somerset and South Bristol, but is flexible and where reasonable will cover other areas. He isn’t paid by RoSPA but can claim expenses of £30.50, which is designed to cover the test, debriefing, official report writing and journey to and from the test route. It was clear that Geoff isn’t doing it for the money but for the love of motorcycling.
According to Geoff, the test is laughably simple, “it’s an opportunity to demonstrate your advanced riding skills”.
A typical test will begin with an introduction by Geoff of who he is and his background, and he will ask about your background and experience to get a flavour of who you are. He will check the legality of your motorcycle and your documentation
He will talk about Roadcraft and the vehicle checks, and will use Q&A to get the client talking, asking why we do checks. Key reasons are being safe and legal (the one most people forget).
He may ask about the road craft system (Processing Information and the four phases of Position,Speed,Gear and Acceleration). Geoff will give an intense briefing about the test route with opportunities for the client to ask questions, if obvious questions aren’t raised then Geoff may start to encourage some questions.
The test starts with an eye test, and checking for any existing medical conditions that should be declared for the purposes of Health and Safety.
The client then needs to perform a smooth progressive systematic ride, which demonstrates the rider’s knowledge of Roadcraft and the Highway Code. The ride must be legal. It will be approximately 30 miles on a variety of roads, rarely motorways and with a good mix of varying speed limits.
When the ride is completed you will have a de-brief (a good opportunity to buy Geoff a coffee), he will make notes on the RoSPA template. He will tell you straight away if it’s a pass (valid for 3 years) or fail, and will then tell you the grade after a de brief and Q&A on your ride ( both self-debrief and examiner debrief). It’s not a grilling and he will bend over backwards to help as much as possible.
A Gold pass requires a display of confidence and ability throughout the test, skills in overtaking and continually looking for opportunities and demonstrating them to the Examiner. A level of riding that would lead to the rider doing well in a police advanced driving course.
A Silver pass demonstrates awareness of the system but may contain 1 or 2 consistent errors.
A Bronze pass shows a level that would pass a ministry test and an awareness of the system but not consistent application of the system.
A fail most commonly occurs for failing to stop at a STOP line, some people can concentrate too hard and miss the obvious. Since 2002 probably no more than 5 fails.
Geoff then invited questions from the floor which led to some spirited conversations (Don’t argue with the examiner!)
Q. What’s the difference between Attitude and Emotion in the “I AM SAFE” checklist?
A. Geoff gave the example of being in a right hand turn only lane and discovering a car starting to push into his lane from the left with the driver leaning on the horn.
Bike (Emotion) - what the **** is this person trying to do!
Car (Attitude) – Directing everything at the motorcyclist
Q. Should the test be longer to show the difference between Gold and Silver Passes?
A. No it wouldn’t show, and if any mistakes were made it would prolong the agony of the candidate, also the instructor has to remember the details of the test and concentration can lapse.
Q. If someone doesn’t get in the zone in the test can they stop?
A. Test conditions are restrictive and the examiner will try to put the client at ease and ideally such that he forgets the examiner is there. Also what happens from the start of the test to the end of the test must be taken into account by the examiner.
Q. Recall of an examiner is good, how can you achieve that level of recall?
A. Don’t nit-pick and try to remember every little detail, get the chapter headings that most things are pointing to, e.g.: cornering (could be too fast in, too slow out or wrong position)
Q. Should riders stagger formation in Groups?
A. There is no RoSPA policy on this, when riding in groups the organiser should dictate what people do in order to minimise risk and ideally people should ride to the level of the lowest abilities to ensure no-one rides beyond their abilities. Groups could be staggered in Town to keep them together and prevent cars from coming in between bikes. No need for staggering outside of 30mph limits
Q. Bikesafe Advisors have differing opinions on the same scenarios, what should I do?
A. Do as your tutor dictates, remember police bikers aren’t teachers and police riding school is different to public road riding.