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Last Updated: Sunday, 11 April, 2004, 11:48 GMT 12:48 UK
'Born again bikers' death fears
Mounting deaths amongst bikers in the Durham dales have prompted police to mount extra patrols.

Durham Police say the move is an effort to "save the seasonal influx of born-again bikers from themselves".

Since 2001 seven riders have died in more than 50 motorcycle accidents on the minor rural roads of Weardale and Teesdale.

A further 20 have been seriously hurt, while another three dozen escaped with minor injuries.

Durham Police say an analysis of the incidents show that nine out of 10 of the victims were mature riders.

More than 80% were aged between 30 to 59, with a further 8% above the age of 60.

These roads are unforgiving, often lined by dry stone walls, mature trees and other immovable objects. You don't often get a second chance
Chief Inspector Paul Goundry, Durham Police

An overwhelming number of the crashes involved high-powered machines where speed was a factor.

The majority of accidents occurred on weekends between April and September with Sunday - at about 1100 BST or at about 1800 BST - the day of greatest risk.

From Easter Sunday, and on through the coming spring and summer months, extra police motorcycle patrols will tour the dales, stopping riders and pointing out the dangers they face and the risks they pose to other road users.

Chief Inspector Paul Goundry, of Durham Police said: "We want to persuade them to show respect for the people in the communities they are travelling through, respect for others on the roads and, ultimately, respect for their own lives.

"A range of risks can confront riders, among them slow moving tractors, livestock, mud on the road and other drivers enjoying a ride in the countryside.

'Speed and noise'

"These roads are unforgiving, often lined by dry stone walls, mature trees and other immovable objects. You don't often get a second chance."

Sergeant Bob Brown, who heads the force's motorcycle section, added: "People travelling from places like Lancashire, North Yorkshire and Northumberland use the main routes to head for the peace and natural beauty of the dales.

"By stopping them and talking to them we hope we can discourage them from hammering through the villages.

"Our patrols are all about education rather than prosecution.

"We want bikers to ride within their limits, not disturb the peace of rural communities and spare a thought for those they overtake who might be startled by their speed and noise."

Posters highlighting the death toll and urging enthusiasts to show restraint are going up in premises throughout the dales.

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