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Isle of Man police warn cyclists not to ride on TT course for their own safety

Riders from Leeds and Swindon arrested after ignoring warning signs

Police on the Isle of Man police have warned cyclists not to ride on the island’s famous Mountain Course, currently hosting the Tourist Trophy (TT) motorcycle races, which have returned this year following a two-year break due to the coronavirus pandemic.

BBC News reports that two cyclists from Leeds and a group from Swindon were arrested close on a section of the A18 Mountain Road where a temporary one-way system is in place until Monday 13 June.

At the time, the road had been shut to allow emergency services to attend a motorcycle rider who had sustained serious injuries in a crash and Sergeant Andrew Reid, said that had the road been open the riders could have caused a “dangerous” situation.

“Had they been on it when we opened it again we would have sent hundreds of [motor]bikes whizzing towards them,” he explained, urging people to research road closures and heed “clear warning signs.”

He added that officers are “not persecuting cyclists, it is purely a safety factor that anything that is slow moving on that Mountain Road during TT, we don't want there for safety.”

In a statement on Facebook, Isle of Man Constabulary said:

Whilst the Mountain Road has been closed for emergency services to deal with an incident, four cyclists in two separate pairs have been stopped and arrested at the East Mountain Box just before the Mountain Hut for Contravening a Closed Road and Contravening the One Way System in place on the Mountain Road.

The TT Road Races Authorisation 2022 that is in force for the TT festival states that cycling is prohibited on the A18 Mountain Road from the Ramsey hairpin to its junction with the Creg-ny-Baa Back Road during the TT period.

There are no exceptions. The Mountain Road being closed for emergency services to deal with an incident is certainly not an exception.

The actions of these cyclists is dangerous for the cyclists themselves and other road users, not only for them to be cycling on the Mountain Road, but also cycling against the one way system, had the mountain road been opened at the conclusion of the incident and they hadn’t been stopped.

There are the proper signs out on every road that feeds into the A18 Mountain Road to indicate No Cycling is permitted. If you are a cyclist, we want you to enjoy the island on a pedal cycle but we ask that for these two weeks you don’t use the A18 Mountain Road.


In 2017, the Isle of Man TT course featured in the road races at that year’s British Cycling National Championships, which were held on the island.

The men’s elite race was won by Steve Cummings – who earlier in the week had also won the time trial title – while Lizzie Deignan triumphed in the women’s race to take her fourth national road title.

The cycling lap record on the Mountain Course is held by Peter Kennaugh, who was born on the island, and set a time of 1 hour, 23 minutes and 48 seconds, taking the previous record set in 1993 by Chris Boardman by just 6 seconds.

So far this year during the TT races, three motorcycle racers have lost their lives, taking the death toll at the event over the past decade to 23.

Mark Purslow from Wales was killed in a qualifying race last week, while Davy Morgan from Northern Ireland died after a crash during the Supersport Race on Monday, reports the Guardian.

That followed another crash on Saturday that claimed the life of French sidecar pilot César Chanal, whose teammate Olivier Lavorel was taken to hospital in Liverpool where he remains in a critical condition.

The TT races attract huge numbers of visitors to the island each year, many of whom unsurprisingly try out the Mountain Course for themselves during their visit when the roads are open.

But as this video narrated by Isle of Man native and TT racer Conor Cummins and posted to the Isle of Man Constabulary website shows, that often results in some riding at extreme speed – the 120mph he estimates one rider to be travelling at, despite oncoming traffic, is faster than the average speed of the course record in a number of classes in the actual races.


Simon joined as news editor in 2009 and is now the site’s community editor, acting as a link between the team producing the content and our readers. A law and languages graduate, published translator and former retail analyst, he has reported on issues as diverse as cycling-related court cases, anti-doping investigations, the latest developments in the bike industry and the sport’s biggest races. Now back in London full-time after 15 years living in Oxford and Cambridge, he loves cycling along the Thames but misses having his former riding buddy, Elodie the miniature schnauzer, in the basket in front of him.

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IanMSpencer | 2 years ago

There is a contrary element in me that thinks the headline should be:

Isle of Man police warn motorcyclists not to ride on TT course for their own safety

which based on safety statistics is not an unreasonable stance for the police to take.

Miller replied to IanMSpencer | 2 years ago
1 like

Not exactly contrary considering that motorcyclist fatalities are now up to 5 for this IoM week.

BalladOfStruth replied to Miller | 2 years ago
1 like

Which isn't unusual if I recall correctly. I remember getting into a "discussion" about it a few years back which prompted me to look into historic deaths. It's been hovering around 3-5 deaths per year since the 80's - I think the average is something like 3.6 over the last 40 years.

Arbory | 2 years ago

This is a dreadfully misleading photo. For a start the cyclists in it are not the ones who have been pulled up by the Manx police. They are doing absolutely nothing wrong.

I was born and grew up on the Island so know it very well.

The location of the photo is at a place called “The Bungalow” on the mountain stretch of the TT course.

In the photo, the road is not closed, for any reason, and it is not yet designated one-way. In any case the bikes are travelling in the same direction as that permitted when it is one-way, during the race festival.

So in your photo they are doing nothing wrong, and I think it must be an old one, taken when the TT races are not on.

In the article we are treated to the dramatic news that if the racing suddenly started up then motorbikes would start hurtling towards the cyclists on the road. This is rubbish as there are race marshals every few hundred yards along the road, who carry red flags and radios and can stop the race quickly by signalling back down the course, which is what the marshals on the sector where the errant cyclists were would have done. This is exactly what happens during an actual motorcycle race when a rider comes off or if there is other danger on the road.

The cyclists should still, rightly, have been apprehended and possibly prosecuted, but it’s not nearly the news it is made out to be and, in any case, I suspect the cyclists in question were there more out of ignorance than deliberately straying onto a racetrack. Remember the roads are just normal looking roads that happen to be closed for the event, so signage would need to be fool proof, especially when you are joining the road after going mountain biking. Also, as the racing had not even started yet (the road was closed for a normal RTC, not racing) then there would have to have been a "roads closed" car go through before any motor cycle racing even started, and I am sure that would have noticed anyone who shouldn't have been there. For the same reason these cyclists would not have heard any racing bikes earlier in the day, as racing had not commenced.

Flâneur replied to Arbory | 2 years ago

I imagine the photo is from the 2017 British Cycling National Championships referenced in the article.

Haven't been to the IoM during TT fortnight so can't comment on signage but the road is one-way for the full fortnight, day and night, right? The other issue is that there's no speed limit in IoM outside urban areas (I believe) so if the road had been open (ie no RTC), there would have been 100mph+ bikers (legally) coming the other way using the whole road (legally).

stonojnr replied to Flâneur | 2 years ago

Aiui it happened Tuesday so there were no races planned,but the mountain road would have been open to traffic, but not cyclists, had it not been for dealing with the RTC.

I don't know if they run the road open car in that situation when it's clear again or just remove the road block.

But there aren't many roads on the IOM, and if you are on the mountain, chances are it's the TT course if you come across one.

Ill just assume they were 1st time visitors during the TT, and not some crazy death wish adrenaline junkies.

Flâneur replied to Arbory | 2 years ago

It's also not just cyclists getting caught:

"Eight residents have been fined for speeding in Laxey since May 26, while others attempted to drive against the A18 Mountain Road's one-way system."

Clem Fandango | 2 years ago

That's a special kind of stupid

OldRidgeback | 2 years ago

You have to be a bit dim to go to the Isle of Man during the TT and not be aware that there's a motorcycle race going on. The 1000cc bikes have over 200hp, weigh about 200kg (not including the rider) and can be hitting up to 200mph. You do not want to be on your bicycle when they come past.

Mungecrundle replied to OldRidgeback | 2 years ago

"You do not want to be on your bicycle when they come past."

Or indeed, go through you.

It's the same self centred mentality as drivers who refuse to accept they need to keep off closed roads during cycling and running events or at the very minimum follow marshal's instructions.

kil0ran replied to Mungecrundle | 2 years ago

Indeed. The crash that claimed the life of one of the French competitors was so severe that they originally mis-identified the victim. Phrase used was "injuries incompatible with life" - which is emergency services code for the worst injuries you can imagine.

Of course, they weren't actually riding the course in race or practice conditions, this was just when the roads are open to all the visiting motorcyclists and speed limits are ignored/not enforced

Flâneur replied to kil0ran | 2 years ago

Think there was more to the misidentification than that - sidecar drivers/passengers are supposed to wear dogtags and/or their name reliably detailed on the inside of their leathers after a misidentification in the 70s. Anyway there was an appeal not to speculate on socials as to the events so I'll leave it there.

Grahamd replied to kil0ran | 2 years ago

kil0ran wrote:

Of course, they weren't actually riding the course in race or practice conditions, this was just when the roads are open to all the visiting motorcyclists and speed limits are ignored/not enforced

On the mountain sections, out of the towns, there are no speed limits on the IOM. 

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