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Initiative follows big increase in motorcyclist fatalities and cyclists flocking to area ahead of Tour de France

A Think! Bike poster and billboard campaign has been launched in North Yorkshire to urge motorists to be watch out for those on bicycles and motorcycles.

Launched jointly by North Yorkshire County Council and North Yorkshire Police, the posters and advertising hoardings will be placed in towns in the area, as well as along routes popular with cyclists and motorcyclists, during May and June.

The first billboard has already been put up in Harrogate, which in July hosts the finish of Stage 1 of the Tour de France, and it’s partly in view of the increasing numbers of cyclists attracted to the area by the chance to ride the same roads as the pros that the campaign has been devised.

Councillor Don Mackenzie, who represents Harrogate on North Yorkshire County Council and is its executive member for public health, said: “It’s great to see people getting on their bikes to enjoy this beautiful county, take exercise and keep fit, but we want them to stay safe as well.

“This latest initiative aims to tackle the problem of driver error in road casualties involving cyclists and bikers.”

During 2013, there were 51 deaths as a result of road traffic collisions in North Yorkshire, a 60 per cent increase on the previous 12 months and the highest annual total in seven years.

In 2012, five motorcyclists were killed on the county’s roads, but that figure rose to 16 last year. Meanwhile, the number of cyclists killed or seriously injured stood at 52 in 2013, five more than during the previous year.

Deputy Chief Constable Tim Madgwick of North Yorkshire Police said: “We are urging drivers, motorcyclists and people riding pedal cycles to pay attention, not only to their own behaviour, but also make themselves alert to other people using the roads.

“Vulnerable road users such as cyclists and motorcyclist should also ensure that they have the most appropriate protective and highly visible clothing and equipment.”

Earlier this month, the police force urged people looking to try out the Tour de France route on their bikes to ride within their limits after a man from Bradford was seriously injured in Wensleydale when he was involved in a crash.

A smartphone app for iOS and Android devices was also launched and uses video to highlight specific hazards on the roads the Tour de France will follow during its two days in Yorkshire.

Councillor Gareth Dodd, North Yorkshire County Council’s executive member for road safety, said that groups of riders needed to plan ahead for ay contingency that might arise.

“The more experienced riders have a role in looking out for the less experienced, less confident and perhaps less fit riders in their group,” he said. “Cycles need to be in good condition with recently checked brakes and tyres.

He added: “All road users have a duty to travel with consideration and with other users in mind.”

Our official grumpy Northerner, John has been riding bikes for over 30 years since discovering as an uncoordinated teen that a sport could be fun if it didn't require you to catch a ball or get in the way of a hulking prop forward.

Road touring was followed by mountain biking and a career racing in the mud that was as brief as it was unsuccessful.

Somewhere along the line came the discovery that he could string a few words together, followed by the even more remarkable discovery that people were mug enough to pay for this rather than expecting him to do an honest day's work. He's pretty certain he's worked for even more bike publications than Mat Brett.

The inevitable 30-something MAMIL transition saw him shift to skinny tyres and these days he lives in Cambridge where the lack of hills is more than made up for by the headwinds.