Police safety warning to cyclists tackling Yorkshire Tour de France routes, new app highlights hazards (+ video)
Ride within your limits, say North Yorkshire Police - safety drive follows serious incident earlier this month
Cyclists heading to Yorkshire to experience some of the roads the Grand Départ of the Tour de France will follow this summer are being told by police to ride within their limits and be aware of potential hazards, while a smartphone app has also been launched that includes videos of particularly difficult sections.
The safety warning from police follows an incident on 5 April, near Bainbridge in Wensleydale, which left a 48-year-old man from the Bradford area with multiple injuries including to his spine, pelvis and chest. He was taken to the James Cook University Hospital in Middlesbrough by air ambulance
The advice also follows the recent launch of a smartphone app that includes videos pointing out particularly difficult sections of the routes of the first two stages of the race, from Leeds to Harrogate and from York to Sheffield.
Among the dangers highlighted by police are the region’s steep and winding descents, seen as posing a risk to inexperienced riders in particular, as well as cattle-grids, sheep and other wildlife in the road, mud from agricultural vehicles, loose gravel and undefined kerb lines.
The exact circumstances of the crash have not been disclosed, but following a second collision this month involving a cyclist, police are now distributing leaflets and posters to cycle businesses and cafés popular with riders throughout the Yorkshire Dales to get their safety message across.
Traffic Sergeant John Lumbard from North Yorkshire Police's Roads Policing Group, said: "With the roads likely to get busier and busier with cyclists over the next few months it is important that we try and prevent any further casualties.
"The narrow country roads and steep hills in the Dales can be very challenging, even to experienced riders, and it is vital that cyclists are aware of this before they visit North Yorkshire.
"It is not uncommon for long straights or steep descents to be followed by tight bends or t-junctions and it is imperative that cyclists have the skills and knowledge to negotiate these obstacles. Please ride within your limits and don't ride beyond your capabilities.
"Bike maintenance is also an important consideration and well maintained brakes are vital if you need to stop suddenly when going down a steep hill at speed.
"Wearing a helmet could save your life, so please wear one and ensure you carry enough kit to help you deal with any change in weather conditions," he added.
Safer Roads Yorkshire and Humber recently launched a free app for iOS and Android devices aimed at novice cyclists and those with less experience of riding in rural areas, called Cycle Yorkshire: Ride the Routes.
The app provides safety advice and route information on the two stages of the race in Yorkshire, from Leeds to Harrogate and York to Sheffield.
It includes videos that highlight particularly difficult sections of some routes, in some cases using flythrough maps as in the first example below, while the second follows Team Hope’s Jamie Sharp on the descent of Kidstones Bank.
You can find all the videos here.
Honor Byford, team leader for road safety and travel awareness at North Yorkshire County Council said: "We are working in partnership with British Cycling to bring a host of free cycling opportunities to the county through their Sky Rides programme.
"Together our shared commitment and passion for cycling is inspiring people to get on their bikes and it's great to see. We are all keen to encourage cycling and to provide people with the information they need to get back on their bikes and to do so safely.
"We would urge clubs and informal groups and friends who are looking to cycle all or part of the route to take ten minutes to plan ahead for every eventuality. The more experienced riders have an important role in looking out for the less experienced, less confident and, perhaps, less fit riders within their group.
"Cycles need to be in good condition, recently checked brakes, tyres etc. Human and cycle maintenance are equally important on these demanding routes. More tips and information about the routes are available from our website and by downloading our app," she added.