Police and road safety officers have today launched their annual campaign aimed at driving down the number of motorcyclists killed and injured on North Yorkshire's roads.
The main biking season is about to get underway and the Yorkshire Dales can expect an influx of riders onto the region's network of challenging roads.
Sergeant Pete Mason, Bike Safe co-ordinator, takes delivery
of the sponsored Honda SP2 from Mark Kelly,
owner of Castle Motorcycles
Road Policing Officers will be undertaking some tough enforcement action through operation Halter, which will again see speeders and dangerous riders fast-tracked through the Courts and possibly losing their license within days of the offence.
Through extra funding from North Yorkshire County Council, the operation will see extra patrols carried out on roads and in areas with a history of high rider injuries.
The result has been a reduction in rider deaths since the peak year of 2003 when 28 riders and pillion passengers were killed in the county.
Assistant Chief Constable David Collins said: "Operation Halter has had a noticeable effect on the riding behaviour of both North Yorkshire motorcyclists and, especially, on the thousands of riders who pour into the county during the summer months to enjoy our rural roads. The word is out that NYP does not take kindly to law-breakers and risk-takers.
"We welcome motorcyclists to North Yorkshire. We enjoy the colour and spirit of fellowship they bring and - as hard-headed Yorkshire folk - we welcome the money they spend.
"We do not welcome racers and risk-takers. We do not welcome the idiot minority who let down their fellow riders. We do not welcome riders whose skill is not up the performance of their machines. We see the consequences of their behaviour close up and first hand, and we do not enjoy these sights and sounds. And, especially, we do not enjoy going to tell a family they no longer have a husband, father or son."
Motorcyle fatalities on North Yorkshire's roads
- 1994 - 12
- 1995 - 13
- 1996 - 18 (The beginning of the boom in the sale of powerful sports bikes)
- 1997 - 15 (The year that Bike safe was initially launched)
- 1998 - 16
- 1999 - 10
- 2000 - 15
- 2001 - 13
- 2002 - 23
- 2003 - 28
- 2004 - 17
- 2005 - 21
Alongside the tough clampdown, education is also set to play a major role in this year's campaign. Bike Safe - the pioneering scheme that aims to bridge the gap between the basic qualification skill level and the greater skills possible for riders with formal training - will be re-launched.
Bike Safe was initially launched by North Yorkshire Police in 1997- a year that saw 15 riders and passengers killed - and has since been adopted by 36 other forces.
"Now it is time to more closely target the riders we need to reach, and put them on the path to advanced riding techniques. So we have re-evaluated Bike Safe, and moved it forward," said Mr Collins.
From today all motorcyclists stopped by NYP officers will be offered a place on a £50 course, which will be part classroom based and part on the road training with a Police rider.
Mr Collins added: "We have in place the resources and system for catching the idiot minority - the extreme speeders, the wheelie show-offs, the selfish boy-racers with race exhausts which wreck the peace for everyone else.
"And we believe we have got the message of updating riding skills to the 'born-again bikers' Bike Safe was originally aimed at.
"Now we are moving on to the riders in between those two groups. These are the motorcyclists who may not have the skill to match the performance of their machines or who do take the occasional liberty with the speed limit, or frighten themselves with an ill-judged line on an unfamiliar corner. Our aim is simply to share the huge experience of Police motorcyclists with riders like these, then point them towards improving their own skills."
David Lindsay, North Yorkshire's Road Safety Officer, said: “In partnership with North Yorkshire Police, we are committed to reducing the number of people killed or seriously injured in the county’s roads.
“It is vital that people who ride bikes or drive cars recklessly in North Yorkshire understand the consequences of their actions.
“Not only can they face fines, imprisonment, licence points or bans, they also may have to live with someone’s death or serious injury on their life forever. It can quite literally be a matter of life or death so please ride and drive sensibly in North Yorkshire.”
Today’s launch was held outside the Accident and Emergency department at Northallerton’s Friarage Hospital. A&E Consultant Mike Fenwick said: “Unfortunately we do have to deal with the devastating consequences of accidents involving motorcyclists and I would urge all road users, including car drivers and cyclists, to take the necessary precautions when they are out on the road.
“If this road safety campaign can save just one life, then it will all be worthwhile.”