A keen cyclist has launched a campaign to have cycle road signs installed along a 16-miles stretch of the A1(M) service road in North Yorkshire to help save lives and prevent injuries.

Martyn Coombs, 68, from Bedale, believes the move would encourage drivers to give cyclists more room. His campaign comes after a fatal crash on the road, near Pickhill, in July, involving a cyclist and a car. The 71-year-old cyclist, from Bedale, died.

Mr Coombs said having cycled a lot on the continent, road signs reminding motorists to leave a minimum 1.5m gap between their vehicle and cyclists, are very common and appear on most roads.

The Northern Echo: Cyclist Martyn Coombs says signs could help save lives

He added: “Such is the compliance, it is common for drivers to sit behind cyclists for some time until there is a clear path ahead for them to safely overtake, leaving a significant gap between the bike and the vehicle.”

He is calling for signs to be put on the A6055 road between Catterick Bridge and the A61 Ripon roundabout, which runs along the side of the A1(M).

However, so far Highway officers have told him it is the responsibility of road users to operate their vehicle safely and abide by the Highway Code, including recent updates, and additional signs would increase the risk of “sign clutter” reducing the impact. But Mr Coombs has conducted his own survey of the signs and is only asking for four to be replaced.

He added: “In total, for the 16.5 miles between the Catterick and Ripon roundabouts, there are 35 southbound ‘warning’ signs, including horses, tractors and side winds, and 22 ‘giving order’ signs with the same number of signs northbound.

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“Do motorists really need constant reminders that they are on a two-way, clearway road over 16.5 miles?

"I find it staggering that there are 57 road signs, excluding directional signs, southbound and the same number northbound making 114 in total, yet Area 2 Thirsk North Yorkshire are not prepared to replace four of these signs with cyclist 1.5m warning signs.

"One sign every four miles in each direction would serve as a gentle reminder to motorists and could potentially save lives.

“Surely this is not too much to ask? Motorists driving at 60mph on the service road, who do not leave sufficient space, probably don’t realise the danger they are putting cyclists in.

"Many times, whilst cycling on the service road, I have had near misses by motorists passing too close. Studies have shown there are two distinct phases when overtaking cyclists. There is a pressure phase as the vehicle approaches followed by the suction phase as the vehicle passes which acts to pull a cyclist towards the vehicle. This could be eliminated if motorists left sufficient space between them and the cyclist.”

Mr Coombs is seeking MP Rishi Sunak’s support. He added: “The Highway Code changes, made on January 29, 2022 gave updated guidance on safe passing distances and speeds for people driving or riding a motorcycle including, leaving at least 1.5 metres (five feet) when overtaking people cycling at speeds of up to 30mph, and giving them more space when overtaking at higher speeds.

"The laws are here in this country now, but motorists need time to be educated properly, I reckon additional road signs will be a start.”

North Yorkshire Police said at the time of the July crash a woman was arrested at the scene on suspicion of causing death by dangerous driving. This week the force said investigations are ongoing.

North Yorkshire Council’s corporate director of environment, Karl Battersby said: “We always listen to concerns raised by the public and are committed to making our roads as safe as possible for all users.

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“Unfortunately, this signage does not meet government requirements for official traffic signs which can be lawfully placed on or near roads.

“The two-way warning signs along the A6055 and local access road were installed to remind road users that they are on a two-way road, as before recent motorway upgrade schemes several sections of the new A6055 formed part of the A1 northbound or southbound dual carriageway.

“The clearway signs, with a blue circle and red cross over the top, are required at specific points in order to make the clearway legally enforceable.”