I am the Road Policing Inspector for the North-East. My daily focus, and that of the officers I lead, is to reduce the number of casualties from crashes on our roads.
In my free time I am a keen cyclist. This will be my third Ride the North. I have really enjoyed the previous events; truly tremendous experiences from start to finish among some of the area’s finest scenery with great camaraderie and support provided together with amazingly well-stocked food stops! I have persuaded Sergeant Neil Morrison, another Road Policing veteran, to join me this year. He is breaking his Ride the North duck and, like many of us I’m sure, now wishes he had covered more miles in training!
The other Neil (Innes) ably supported by many others, mostly volunteers, has again done us proud with the many hours of planning and preparation. I am sure an exciting and memorable weekend lies ahead for us all.
Some of advice I offered last year, and which is still very much relevant, will form part of the rider information pack that you will all receive.
However, I would like to take this opportunity to say a few words on what you can do to help to ensure that Ride the North can again pass off safely and without incident for everyone.
Play your part – Cycling safely does require you to concentrate fully and be aware of what is going on around you. Please follow the guidance contained within the Highway Code at all times. You will be on the road for several hours but it is vital that you still pay close attention to your surroundings as you ride along. If you find yourself struggling, slow down or stop for a few minutes. There will be support riders accompanying us along the route.
Look out for each other – As cyclists, we are especially vulnerable while on the road. At times, there may be a few bikes close together, possibly traveling at differing speeds. Be aware of your own ability, experience and check for others around you, especially at junctions and bends. A well placed shout can help. Please pass other riders on their right only. As I have said above, if you see someone in difficulties, please check that they are okay. Stop and help if need be.
Follow the direction of marshals – At certain points along the route, there will be marshals deployed as part of the overall event plans. Please follow their direction and guidance. They are trying to help you, and others, negotiate the specific point safely.
Avoid ‘bunch-riding’ – RtN is a recreational cycling event and not a race. Riding in a bunch is a skill that many participants on the event will have limited experience of and that will compromise the safety of such activity. Bunch riding to maximise pace is not the culture of the event, but cycling sociably with others certainly is.
As noted, cyclists are vulnerable road users and safety on the roads is a matter for everyone. Much of my career has been spent attending, investigating and dealing with tragic circumstances surrounding road traffic collisions. Those of us in frontline emergency services witness some desperate and devastating outcomes.
We all need to use the roads to get around; most of us every day. Our roads are there for us all to use appropriately and properly. Most crashes occur over a few seconds. The consequences can last a lifetime. Please use the roads safely!
I wish you all a safe and enjoyable Ride the North!
Road Policing Inspector