BIKERS are being welcomed to North Yorkshire - but with a health warning.

As police and other services brace themselves for a massive influx of motorbikes for the Superbike championships at Croft Circuit, riders are being told: "You are welcome to enjoy the county's wonderful roads, but drive safely. If you don't we are looking out for you."

This week, the county council's road safety team warned irresponsible bikers to beware.

In conjunction with North Yorkshire police, the team is working to reduce those killed or seriously hurt on the county's roads - especially those riding motorbikes.

There have been 93 fatal accidents involving bikers in North Yorkshire in the past five years.

Last year alone, 28 were killed and so far in 2004, 12 people have lost their lives.

Road policing inspector Chris Charlton said biking casualties had climbed enormously and were disproportionate in terms of numbers with 30pc of road deaths in North Yorkshire last year involving bikes.

"This is quite astounding as bikers only make up two to three per cent of traffic," he said. "We have to do something.

"Public perception is that people living on bikers' routes have been getting fed up to the back teeth at the impact on their quality of life.

"We need to boost awareness of the damage some bikes can do and we are making headway. We are being cautious with figures but they are down on those killed or seriously hurt compared to last year."

The initiative launch came as the British Motorcyclists Federation welcomed a long-awaited Government report on motorcycling.

But the BMF said that with biking road deaths up 14pc in 2003, it was now time for the Government to get serious about taking action.

Police are expecting thousands of bikers for what is the inaugural Superbike event at Croft Circuit. It starts next Friday and lasts until Sunday, August 15.

Also at the launch was David Stavenau, a road safety technician with the county council, who has been a biker for 21 years.

"Bikers themselves are a minority and the hooligan element is a minority within that and brings us into focus," he said. "So we stand out more and it increases prejudice against us.

"Reckless bikers will get an extra thrill from the way they ride; an adrenaline buzz which can be addictive. But safe and responsible riding can also be enjoyable.

"It is a question of attitude. My message is: enjoy it, but, come on lads, be sensible. Don't forget there are other people on the roads."

Assistant chief constable David Collins said: "People tend to forget that there is a real human cost of these accidents.

"Those killed on motorbikes in North Yorkshire are mainly male. They are someone's husband, someone's father, someone's son. They are more than just another statistic."

* In 1999, there were ten fatal accidents involving motorbikes in North Yorkshire.

By 2003, this number had leaped to 28, with a total of 60 fatal and serious motorbike crashes during that year.

The average distance from crash site to the rider's home was 25 miles and a quarter happened between 2-4pm, with 13pc between 7-8pm.

Weekends, especially Sundays, were the most common days for crashes.

Over half the incidents involved riders from outside the county, mainly areas such as Teesside or County Durham.

In 75pc of the crashes, the rider was judged to be to blame with the road surface felt to be a factor in just one incident.

Last year, one in three North Yorkshire road deaths was a rider or pillion passenger of a motorbike.