POLICE are launching a crackdown on rogue bikers to combat a dramatic rise in deaths on rural roads after it emerged motorcyclists are conducting illegal road races between some of Yorkshire’s most popular countryside destinations.
Officers from North Yorkshire Police have had to deal with 11 fatalities on the county’s roads already this year, compared to just two deaths in the first seven-and-a-half months of 2012.
Intelligence has been gathered to suggest that bikers are staging races between car parks in market towns such as Helmsley and Stokesley, buying a ticket at the impromptu start and finish lines to record their times.
Deputy Chief Constable Tim Madgwick told the Yorkshire Post there is evidence of motorcyclists travelling at an average speed in excess of 100mph on country roads which have a 60mph limit – but require extra caution due to the snaking nature of the routes.
He said: “If we had recorded this number of murders in North Yorkshire in this space of time, there would be serious questions asked. Yet we are seeing an increasing number of road deaths which are still human tragedies.
“The majority of motorcyclists who come here are law-abiding, but there is still a significant minority who continue to flout the law. For a lot of rural communities, the problem of speeding motorcyclists is the biggest issue that they face.
“It is a top priority for us, but it is a recurring issue and one we need to tackle. It stretches our resources, but more importantly robs families of a loved one.”
Mr Madgwick issued the stark warning yesterday lunchtime while he was in Helmsley Market Place, which is a traditional meeting place for bikers.
He was joined by officers from a dedicated unit which has been set up to patrol North Yorkshire’s roads to tackle speeding drivers.
Mr Madgwick also admitted there had been a significant rise in the number of serious crashes which are linked to drink-driving.
Alcohol was related to about nine per cent of road accidents which led to a fatality or a serious injury in 2012, while about a quarter of all serious crashes have been drink-related so far this year, although the majority have involved motorists rather than bikers.
Mr Madgwick said: “We had hoped that the message was getting across about the dangers of drink-driving. However, it appears that there is an increasing hardcore of road users who simply ignore the warnings.”
The county’s road network, which covers 5,000 miles and criss-crosses stunning countryside including the Yorkshire Dales and the North York Moors, is a huge draw for bikers from across the nation. Police have admitted one of the biggest problems is with bikers travelling to North Yorkshire from other areas including West Yorkshire and Teesside who are unfamiliar with the weaving country roads.
The emergency services have dealt with a huge increase in the number of deaths involving motorcyclists this year. There have been 11 fatalities since January until yesterday, including a motorcyclist who died on Thursday evening.
The 48-year-old from Breighton, near Selby, died at the crash scene on the A163 in North Duffield after his Kawasaki ZX10R motorcycle was involved in a collision with a blue BMW 520i heading in the opposite direction.
The man driving the car and a woman, who was a front seat passenger in the BMW, were not injured.
North Yorkshire Police also dealt with three deaths in the space of less than six hours last Saturday following two crashes.
A 60-year-old motorcyclist from Lancashire died when he came off his bike after hitting a deer at Studley Royal, near Ripon, at about 11am.
A second accident at 4.55pm led to the deaths of a motorcyclist, 45, from Redcar, and a Volkswagen driver, 65, from County Durham, who were killed in a crash on a country road near Helmsley.