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Last Updated: Tuesday, 15 May 2007, 05:46 GMT 06:46 UK
Bikers 'ignoring safety warnings'
Helicopter footage
Footage captured by the North Wales Police helicopter crew
Shock tactics and campaigns by police are having little effect on the death toll of motorcyclists on Welsh roads, a BBC investigation has revealed.

Twelve bikers have been killed in Wales this year so far, including four in one week during Easter.

One rider who was banned for dangerous driving told BBC TV's Week In Week Out that he would do the same again once he gets his licence back.

Police have said too many riders are using the roads like a racetrack.

Bikers Ross Hallam and Leroy Osowiecki were filmed by a North Wales Police helicopter crew riding at speed, weaving between the traffic and overtaking on the hard shoulder while driving home to Stoke-on-Trent from Llandudno.

"It was dreadful and, of all the years I've been policing, it's the worst motorcycle driving I have ever seen," said Pc Dafydd Hedd Evans, who was in the helicopter.

"They are putting the lives of not only themselves at risk, but certainly the innocent drivers of coaches, cars, families on their way home after having an enjoyable day in north Wales."

Ross Hallam and Leroy Osowiecki
Ross Hallam and Leroy Osowiecki have defended their actions

But Mr Hallam, who along with Mr Osowiecki was convicted of dangerous driving, denied they put themselves or anybody else at risk.

"We were just riding back up the A55, the traffic was moving slower than the speed limit and we just proceeded to make our way around the vehicles as most bikers do," he said.

Mr Hallam was banned from driving for 15 months and Mr Osowiecki for 12 months. Both have to take an extended driving test and were given a curfew.

Fatalities

The punishment has not deterred Mr Osowiecki, who said: "When I get my licence back I will go out and buy another sports bike and pretty much go out and do exactly the same thing again."

Mr Hallam added: "It was illegal and I can only hold my hands up and say, yes, it was me. I will pay my fine, I'll serve my ban and that is pretty much the end of that."

Breaking the speed limit is a factor in 4% of motorbike fatalities, and Paul Cheshire, of BikeSafe Cymru, said the main cause was inexperience.

This week a website to improve bikers' skills launches and will feature 40 red dots - one for the location of each fatal motorbike crash in Wales last year.

One represents Simon Thomas, from Seven Sisters, near Neath, who was killed a year ago when his motorbike clipped the kerb and hit a lamppost.

Bikers
Bikers are attracted by Wales' open roads, scenery and coast

"Since the accident, my personal opinion is that they should ban motorbikes altogether, but I know that can't be done," said his father Stephen.

But Simon's best friend Paul Munday, a motorcycle trainer, has not stopped riding and added: "It's just a passion, it's in your blood."

At a private safety briefing last month, North Wales Police chief constable Richard Brunstrom showed pictures of motorcyclist Mark Gibney, who was decapitated in an accident, to show the dangers of speeding.

Mr Gibney's family had not been asked for permission and has since received an apology from the police force and met the Independent Police Complaints Commission (IPCC).

Week In Week Out is broadcast on BBC1 Wales at 2235 BST on Tuesday, 15 May.


VIDEO AND AUDIO NEWS
Watch helicopter footage of bikers weaving among traffic


Bikers defend their actions against police criticism



SEE ALSO
Coroner attacks speeding bikers
07 Dec 06 |  Mid Wales
Police film of 'hooligan' bikers
19 Oct 06 |  North West Wales
Bikers meet over 'park ban' call
15 Aug 06 |  North East Wales

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