Tom Richards over at The Guardian makes a proposal that makes a lot of sense:
For all the positive talk about increasing the bike awareness component of the driving test, there is a limit to how much you can tell someone to be aware of their position on the road, and a limit to the effect that theoretical knowledge can have. So why not make cycle proficiency a mandatory condition for getting a driving licence?Every driver should have firsthand experience of what it's like to ride a bike in the traffic. Any driver wanting to acquire an HGV licence has to get a normal driving licence first. And people wanting to take a car on the road should have the experience of cycling alongside cars and other vehicles. Drivers need to know how smaller vehicles and their more vulnerable users behave on the road, and the only real way to understand how cyclists act is to have a go at being one. Providing safety training to more cyclists on the streets is obviously desirable, but mandatory cycle training and licensing, often suggested by the more irate and vocal petrolhead crowd, would be a disaster and create a barrier to cycling take-up. (source)
And on top of making roads safer for existing cyclists, this would almost certainly have the added benefit of 'creating' new cyclists by showing more people how fun and convenient biking can be, and giving them a good foundation of skills so that they get over the initial phase of being intimidated by bikes.
So what do you think?