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Tour in Yorkshire… not everyone's happy about expected influx of cyclists

Senior police officer warns Yorkshire villages to expect rise in anti-social cycling as every cyclist worth his salt tries out Tour route

Yorkshire may be preparing to embrace the Tour de France in summer 2014, but it appears that not everybody is happy about expected influx of cyclists keen to try out the route. Responding to a local councillor's complaints about large groups of cyclists speeding through the village of Embsay and acting "as a law unto themselves" Chief Superintendent Alison Higgins of North Yorkshire Police told the councillor to expect more cyclists in the area in the run up to next year's Tour Grand Depart, even though the village is not on the route.

Chief Superintendent Alison Higgins of North Yorkshire Police told Councillor Quinn that more cyclists were expected to visit the area ahead of next year’s Grand Départ, adding “we are aware there is a problem, but it will not change overnight.”
The Craven Herald also reported her as saying that cyclists had to be ‘re-educated’ and that her force would seek to liaise with cycling groups, as it had previously done with motorcyclists.

Chief Inspector Simon Lovell, police commander for the Craven area, said that up to 500,000 were expected to visit for the weekend of the Grand Départ, but said that in the months ahead “every cyclist worth his salt” was likely to wish to tackle the route.

The exchange took place at a meeting of the council’s select committee last Wednesday that focused on crime and disorder, with Conservative councillor Andy Quinn claiming that cyclists were riding at speed through villages including Embsay and failing to stop at red lights, including at pelican crossings, reports the Craven Herald.

“They are a law unto themselves,” maintained Councillor Quinn. “We have an elderly population in Embsay and we’ve had incidents where car wing mirrors have gone missing. Something needs to be done.”

Unusually for a local newspaper report, involving bicycles, the comments to the Craven Herald's article aren't full of the typical accusations of all cyclists breaking the law and how they shouldn't be on the road in the first place because they "don't pay road tax," a common misconception due to that tax being abolished in the 1930s.

Instead, the comments, including some from cyclists who appear to be neighbours of Councillor Quinn, highlight logging trucks, cars and caravans as posing the greatest danger on Embsay's roads as well as being responsible for those broken wing mirrors, and also highlight the imppossibility of cyclists riding through the village at between 40 and 50mph as he had claimed.

The village is on Sustrans regional route 10, the Yorkshire Dales Cycle Way, which forms a 130-mile loop, and lies a couple of miles north east of Skipton, which is on the route of Stage 1 of the 2014 Tour de France from Leeds to Harrogate. As a result, the area is predicted to see growing numbers of cyclists take to the road over the next sixteen months.

While cyclists are not bound by speed limits, as Bike Hub’s Cycling and the Law article points out they can be prosecuted for “riding furiously”, an offence under the 1847 Town Police Clauses Act, or for “wanton and furious driving.” Riders are of course bound by laws to obey traffic signals.

While studies featured here on show that is only a small minority of cyclists who do regularly break the law, they are a very visible one, and the situation is not helped by the fact that some see them, rightly or wrongly, as being allowed to get away with behaviour that they believe would not be tolerated if they were behind the wheel of a car.

Tony has been editing cycling magazines and websites since 1997 starting out as production editor and then deputy editor of Total Bike, acting editor of Total Mountain Bike and then seven years as editor of Cycling Plus. He launched his first cycling website - the Cycling Plus Forum at the turn of the century. In 2006 he left C+ to head up the launch team for Bike Radar which he edited until 2008, when he co-launched the multi-award winning - which he continues to edit today. His favourite ride is his ‘commute’ - which he does most days inc weekends and he’s been cycle-commuting since 1994. His favourite bikes are titanium and have disc brakes.

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