DRIVERS are being urged to be more aware of cyclists after figures revealed they are among those most at risk on North-East roads.

As more and more people have taken to their bikes since lockdown began in March, the number of cyclists being killed or injured in the region is beginning to climb.

Of the last five fatal road collisions in the Cleveland Police force area, four have been cyclists.

And 42 people were killed or seriously injured riding their bikes during lockdown in the region – between March and June – despite a 70 per cent fall in traffic.

Road Safety GB North-East said while the number of other road-users killed or injured fell dramatically during this period, it remained the same as last year for cyclists.

While the cause of each incident may be different, it is believed the sharp increase in people riding bikes, coupled with an increase in driver speed, could be factors.

Peter Slater, of Road Safety GB North-East, which is made up of road safety officers from across the region, said: “Although it’s great to see more people cycling in the region, we are really disappointed by the latest figures.

“Riding bikes on busy roads can be challenging – especially for the new wave of lockdown cyclists.

"We would urge people who are new to cycling, or haven’t cycled for some time, to stick to quieter routes and cycle paths at first to build up confidence.

“Also, make sure that your bike is in good working order and has lights that work.

“We have so many more cyclists on our roads, so drivers, please slow down and give them plenty of space – at least 1.5m.

"Actively look for bikes, and take a second look before pulling out, or when opening your car door, because the consequences can be fatal.”

Police Inspector Catherine Iley, from the Cleveland and Durham Specialist Operations Unit, added: "Please take the extra time to look out for cyclists and use caution when driving alongside them. It could save a life.”