ROAD safety chiefs have put up a series of new roadside posters in a bid to stem the rising tide of motorcycle casualties on the twisty B645 between St Neots and the Northamptonshire border beyond Til-brook. Born-again bikers - affluent thirty-something
ROAD safety chiefs have put up a series of new roadside posters in a bid to stem the rising tide of motorcycle casualties on the twisty B645 between St Neots and the Northamptonshire border beyond Til-brook.
"Born-again bikers" - affluent thirty-somethings who return to motorcycling after buying powerful machines - are a common sight on the road and are strongly represented in the casualty figures.
Across Cambridgeshire, motorcyclist deaths and serious injuries have been on a relentlessly rising trend for the past five years. Four died and 56 were seriously injured in 2001. By 2005 those numbers had risen to 10 and 95.
The B645 has claimed several lives and serious injuries over the past five years, and the born-again biker phenomenon is an increasingly familiar component of coroners' inquests.
Although motorcyclists represent less than two per cent of road traffic, they accounted for 18 per cent of fatalities and 23 per cent of serious injuries in 2005.
Cambridgeshire County Council road safety officer Steve Merrett, who is also a keen motorcyclist, said: "Sadly, crashes involving motorbikes are all too common on our roads.
"We hope that by giving drivers and riders simple messages with these posters we can prevent the tragedies faced by families, when loved ones are killed and injured on the county's roads. We know from Norfolk's trial of these posters last year that drivers and riders have taken notice of them. It is vital that all drivers and riders get this message. This unnecessary toll of deaths and injuries can, and must be stemmed.
"Motorcycling is a practical and fun form of transport. By encouraging drivers and riders to look out for each other as well as for themselves, we hope that the deaths and injuries amongst motorcyclists during the last few years will not be repeated in 2006."
Many of the crashes involved overtaking, often near junctions, and cornering, mainly on left hand bends. Riding too fast for the road was also often a factor.
"Many people who return to motorcycling simply don't realise that the 650cc machine they have just bought is far more powerful than the one they used to ride as a youngster."
The new signs not only warn motorcyclists of crash sites at bends. Other posters remind riders to take care when they are overtaking and other drivers to be on the look-out for bikes.