An operation aimed at reducing the risk of motorcycle-related deaths and serious injuries on the roads of North Wales begins this weekend (Good Friday, March 25th).
Operation Darwen is an all Wales campaign which runs from Easter through until early autumn which is aimed at motorcycle safety and reducing casualties on our roads.
Officers from the Roads Policing Unit will target popular meeting spots for enthusiasts and will also patrol certain routes as part of Operation Darwen.
Motorcyclists are more at risk of being killed or seriously injured in a road traffic collision than any other road user, representing 1% of road traffic but accounting for 18% of all fatalities.
84 riders/pillions were killed or seriously injured on the roads of north Wales during 2015 and represented 25% of all KSI (Killed or Seriously Injured) casualties in the region.
In 2015 the majority of KSI (killed or seriously injured) collisions occurred in August on weekends between midday and 5pm. The majority of the riders were male with 77% of them aged 26 years and over. The majority of the riders were considered blameworthy for the collision.
In 2014 a total of 108 riders/pillions were killed or seriously injured in the region compared to 71 in 2013.
Riding around bends, near junctions, overtaking and loss of control were the majority of the causation factors. In two of the collisions alcohol was also a contributory factor.
Superintendent Rob Kirman, who has responsibility for the Operational Support Services which includes the Roads Policing Unit said: “Nobody likes to have their skills challenged, but some riders do overrate their abilities on a bike with the mindset ‘nothing will ever happen to me.’ We have seen this on numerous occasions, particularly on bends and when overtaking.
“Historically high numbers of motorcyclists come to North Wales due to the challenging nature of the roads. It is a fantastic area for riders, and as a passionate biker myself I want riders to be able to enjoy our beautiful region safely.
“Reducing casualties remains one of our top priorities and Operation Darwen is one of the many campaigns and initiatives that we run throughout the year targeting high-risk road users. It is not about alienating the motorcycling community – it is about education and enforcement.”
Statistics show that those who are involved in collisions are men aged in their 40’s and 50’s – sometimes a little bit older, who come off their bike on either a weekend or on a Wednesday between midday and 5pm. Their fatigue then gets the better of them on a right-hand or left-hand bend.
Supt Kirman added: “Whilst the vast majority of motorcyclists ride appropriately, some riders choose to use the roads as a racetrack, committing serious breaches of road safety legislation, such as speeding and riding dangerously thereby putting themselves and other road users at risk of death or life changing injury. Some of the speeds we have clocked previously have been triple figures.
“We are committed to keeping people safe on the roads of north Wales - we want them to enjoy the roads but most of all we want them to ride safely and responsibly.”
Supt Kirman said: “I am also encouraging bikers to ensure their machines are ready for the months ahead. For many it is a leisure activity which can see their bikes put away throughout the winter months and then brought out and used straight on the road. As part of the operation, we will also be checking tyres on motorcycles as worn or under inflated tyres have been one of the most common themes during collisions.”
Officers from GoSafe, the all Wales casualty reduction partnership will also be deployed on Operation Darwen routes, looking at all motorists.
Supt Kirman said: “We will continue to target, with a view to prosecution, all those that ride or drive dangerously, at excess speed, overtake on solid white lines or commit any other road traffic offences. Please heed the warning.”
Amongst the routes that will be routinely patrolled will be the A494 between Dolgellau and Bala, the A525 from Ruthin to Bwlchgwyn, the A525 / A539 Ruabon, Overton and Redbrook, the A5 between Betws-y-Coed and Corwen, the A543 between Denbigh and Pentrefoelas and the A5104/A494 Bryneglwys to Corwen. The route known as the ‘EVO Triangle’ will also be patrolled which incorporates the A483, A5 and the B4501.
Throughout the campaign BikeSafe representatives will also be out and about speaking to riders and promoting the initiative which offer *free workshops in North Wales. A number of BikeSafe engagement days have been organised for the summer months including visits to the Ponderosa, Betws-y-Coed, Corwen and Llangollen.
Social media users can also follow the campaign via the #OpDarwen and #RideSafely hashtags.
To book a space on the free BikeSafe workshops please visit their website http://www.bikesafe.co.uk/
*subject to booking fee
Collisions involving motorcycles:
• 2015: 5 fatalities and 79 seriously injured
• 2014: 7 fatalities and 101 seriously injured
• 2013: 5 fatalities and 66 seriously injured