Screaming springtime bikes shatter Argyll peace

Police officers carry out roadside bike checks during a previous road safety campaign.

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Their arrival for the year was unmistakeable, and Loch Fyne-side locals recorded it to the minute.

These harbingers of spring were first heard in Cairndow at approximately 3.30pm on March 17.

Not swallows, robins or even March hares – but screaming motorbikes on the A83.

Cairndow woman Christina Noble remembers it well. ‘The first beautiful spring afternoon of the year,’ she said, ‘and the bikers were back, blasting our eardrums.

‘You hear it with dread from the back of the village round to Strone Point, both ways – the escalating roar as you sit quietly in the garden to enjoy a rare sunny evening.’

Campbeltown-based road policing inspector Archie McGuire said that high profile police activity on the A83 near Cairndow during the traditional motorcycling season last year had ‘a good deal of success in detecting and deterring offences’.

He added: ‘This activity will continue this year. Normally periods of good weather, especially across weekends, attract motorcyclists to the area for leisure purposes.

‘The vast majority behave in a responsible and safe manner and respect speed limits, especially in the towns and villages, however, there are a few who don’t and risk not only their own safety but the safety of other road users, often becoming involved in collisions.

‘Motorcycles, especially sports bikes, are by their very nature noisy, even when fitted with legal exhaust systems, and this can create a perception of excessive speed. They are able to accelerate very quickly and overtake slower moving vehicles where it would not be possible in a car.

‘This can also sometimes create a perception of recklessness especially among non-motorcyclists who are not afforded the same views ahead or performance characteristics available to the biker.

‘But there are still those who take unnecessary and dangerous risks and are the people we target and encourage not to come to the area.’

Christina Noble, though, pointed out: ‘For us round the head of Loch Fyne it’s not the speeding that’s the main issue. Speed may endanger the bikers themselves and others on the road. But for residents and tourists it’s the noise.

‘There surely must be a legal limit for noise pollution. I have been asking the police about this for years but have yet to get any answer.

‘And, just for the moment, are the bikers on essential travel?’

Inspector McGuire explained: ‘Police Scotland has never carried out road checks for the purposes of enforcing coronavirus legislation but has relied on the four Es – Engage, Explain, Encourage and Enforce – where we have had reason to interact with motorists.’

But he added that anyone found to be in breach of guidelines or legislation would be ‘dealt with appropriately’.