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Page last updated at 14:06 GMT, Wednesday, 30 June 2010 15:06 UK
Bikers make Cat & Fiddle 'UK's most dangerous road'
The Cat & Fiddle A537 road
The Cat & Fiddle A537 between Buxton and Macclesfield is the most dangerous road in Britain

It's known, almost affectionately, as the Cat & Fiddle.

However, the A537 in Cheshire has once again been given the title of the most dangerous road in Britain.

For years, this 14km stretch between Buxton and Macclesfield has witnessed more fatal and serious accidents than anywhere else in the UK.

Now, a road safety expert has said he believes that bikers are drawn, not only by its great views, but also its grim reputation.

Videos

The A537 Buxton Road is one of a handful of routes running over the Pennines.

Motorcyclist on Cat & Fiddle road
There's almost a 'badge' of 'I've ridden the Fiddle'. It's like climbing Everest; it's something that people aspire to
Lee Murphy, Cheshire Safer Roads Partnership

It's known more commonly as the Cat & Fiddle, after the second highest pub in England which sits on its crest.

In winter, it's frequently impassable because of snow. But on a warm, dry day, it's hugely popular with bikers who gather at weekends to ride, to talk bikes and, occasionally, to indulge their need for speed.

So why is the Cat & Fiddle the most dangerous road in Britain?

According to one road safety expert in Cheshire, the road's notoriety itself is, perversely, part of the problem.

"The Cat & Fiddle does have a bit of a challenge mentality," said Lee Murphy, manager of the Cheshire Safer Roads Partnership. "And a minority do try to ride it as fast as they can."

"I think there's almost a 'badge' of 'I've ridden the Fiddle.' It's like climbing Everest or swimming the Channel; it's something that people aspire to."

"But by highlighting this each year, I suppose we're perpetrating its reputation as 'the most dangerous road in Britain.' "

To prove his point, Mr Murphy pointed to the scores of videos posted online by bikers riding the 14km stretch of the A537 Buxton Road.

"If you go on YouTube, you can see lots of people are filming themselves riding that route, which is fairly unusual thing to be doing."

Bends

According the latest report by the Road Safety Foundation, too many motorcyclists fall foul of its sharp bends, steep falls from the carriageway and the dry stone walls which run almost all its length.

It's a problem that's been getting worse.

The Cat & Fiddle pub
Bikers make up 1% of UK traffic but 20% of fatal accidents

The number of fatal and serious collisions on this section have risen from 15 in 2003-2005 to 34 in 2006-2008, with most crashes at weekends during the summer in dry, daylight conditions.

Police records show that most casualties are male motorcyclists from South Manchester, Stoke, and South Yorkshire with an average age of 35.

The increasing use of high-powered bikes is also believed to be a factor in the Fiddle's rising toll of crash victims.

Over the past decade, the Cheshire Safer Roads Partnership has spent £500,000 on trying to make the Cat and Fiddle safer including:

  • introduction of a 50mph speed limit;
  • a mobile road safety campaign;
  • re-laying the road surface;
  • putting anti-skid surface on bends;
  • building motorcycle-friendly crash barriers;
  • installing average speed cameras

'Touch wood'

Lee Murphy said, it was early days, but with no fatal accidents recorded so far this year, he was hopeful that the speed cameras, installed in April this year, were beginning to make a difference.

"At the end of the day, the road is a road; it's the way it's ridden that makes it dangerous," he said.

"While we're never going to stop [accidents] happening, it's going ok so far this year - touch wood."




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