‘Ride safely
 – we want you to get back home again...’

Police are trying to promote safer riding on the region's roads. PICTURE: TERRY CARROTT
Police are trying to promote safer riding on the region's roads. PICTURE: TERRY CARROTT
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Bank Holiday motorcyclists taking to the region’s roads today are being warned by police not to become another statistic.

In the last ten years 140 motorcyclists have died in crashes on North Yorkshire roads and more than 1,000 have been left seriously injured.

But while there has been a downward trend in fatalities, with five motorcycle related deaths in 2017 compared to 24 in 2003, road safety experts are appealing to riders to know their limits while taking advantage of the remaining summer weather.

And the warning comes as August and the bank holiday period typically sees a spike in fatal and serious injury crashes.

Fiona Ansell, the road safety team leader for North Yorkshire County Council said half of the recorded crashes are on rural roads: “The region has some lovely roads and there are lots of great tourist destinations like Whitby and Scarborough. There are biker cafes – it is a nice day trip out.

“What we are saying is think about how you ride, ride within your limits and then you make the choice about what you do.

“We don’t want to curb the enthusiasm for motorcycling, we just want them to come home again.”

However, that is not always the case and as North Yorkshire has some of the most scenic routes, they can also prove to be the most dangerous.

The A59 York through to Skipton road, which also takes in Harrogate, saw 43 crashes involving motorcycles between 2010 and 2015 - three were fatal.

Records show that in one a rider collided with an on-coming car during an overtake, one lost control while approaching queueing traffic and hit a car and another collided with a car doing a u-turn.

The next two most high-risk routes were the A64 from Bramham to Scarborough and the A170 Thirsk to Scarborough route which also includes Sutton Bank and Helmsley.

On each of these there were 42 recorded incidents and both stretches also had a fatal crash, the latter being attributed to a rider over-taking three cars and colliding with one turning right.

There were 34 crashes, including one fatal, on the A171 Scaling Dam to Whitby and Scarborough road. On the A6108 North Lees to Scotch Corner, two fatalities were as a result of a rider losing control on a bend and one overtaking and colliding with a car.

Analysis and subsequent research shows that 80 per cent of serious crashes, on machines over 125cc, are due to rider error.

Ms Ansell said: “Half are while negotiating a bend in the road. Of the other half – a quarter are while braking and the other quarter while in a straight line and over-taking.

“It is not necessarily speeding. It is not reading the road right, not taking the right line, braking too late, crossing the while line.

“One of the biggest problems is riders in groups and instead of putting the slowest at the front it is the fastest and people at the back are making crazy overtakes, out of their comfort zone to keep up and that is when they make mistakes.”

It was these kind of facts and increasing numbers of motorcycle related fatalities that led to the formation of the 95 Alive road safety partnership with local authorities and emergency services.

It was established in 2004, and aimed to save 95 lives between 2005 and the end of 2010. The initial campaign officially ended on 31 March 2011, by which time 126 lives had been saved.

The main element of the campaign has been education and this forms the core of the Bikesafe courses run by police forces nationwide which is a classroom theory session followed by a two hour observation ride.

There are between 20 and 30 held in North Yorkshire each year and they are always full.

She said: “It was quite obvious when we started that motorcycle casualties was an issue.

“If we look back over the years there is a downward trend - there were 24 deaths in 2003 and five in 2017. There is a myth that it is all novice or born-again bikers but we have had people that had been riding 20 or 30 years.

“We don’t preach we just outline areas for improvement. We put the information out there, we say these are the facts, motorcyclist are crashing through their own mistakes and this is what’s happening. They can then make an informed choice about changing their riding or not.”