THE number of people killed on North Yorkshire's roads has soared to its highest level in seven years.

Fifty-one peopled died last year, up by 60 per cent on 2012 - with the upsurge partly due to a massive increase in the number of motorcycle fatalities, which more than trebled from five in 2012 to 16 last year.

The number of pedal cyclists killed or injured also rose, causing police particular concern with large numbers of cyclists expected to ride the Tour De France route before and after the Grand Départ in North Yorkshire in July.

The figures, compiled by North Yorkshire County Council’s road safety analysts, were described as 'very alarming and worrying' by Cllr Gareth Dadd, executive member for road safety.

“Even allowing for the fact that the total for 2012 was an all-time low, there are still far too many people dying unnecessarily on our roads," he said.

"These figures underline the vital importance of all road users being constantly aware of their surroundings, of their speed, of their driving or riding behaviour, of the presence of others.”

Deputy Chief Constable Tim Madgwick of North Yorkshire Police said he was extremely concerned by an increase both in deaths and serious injuries.

"We are urging drivers, motorcyclists and people riding pedal cycles to not only to pay attention to their own behaviour, but also make themselves alert to other people using the roads,"he said.

"The upcoming Grand Depart of the Tour De France will be a spectacular event for the Yorkshire area and we want everybody to have a lasting impression, particularly the expected influx of keen cyclists who will ride the routes before and after the race.

“To keep safe, we strongly encourage cyclists to make themselves fully familiar with the routes and to take every precaution before setting off on a ride.”

A report to councillors says there is a gradual but established upward trend in pedal cyclist casualties, which may simply reflect the rising popularity of cycling, and with it a proportionate increase in cyclists being hurt.

"Whatever the reasons, measures to address cyclists’ safety and drivers’ awareness are being taken in the county and regionally both in the run-up to the Tour de France and beyond.”