TWO cyclists caught pedalling down the M65 have been branded 'dangerous' and 'stupid'.

Police received several calls about a man, thought to be aged around 20, riding along the motorway towards Accrington.

Just hours after officers escorted the man from the carriageway near junction eight for Hapton and Huncoat, around noon on Tuesday, police were called about another cyclist.

He was seen weaving between the eastbound hard shoulder and the inside lane at 11.45pm, between junctions six for Blackburn and seven for Accrington.

Community leaders and road safety bosses slammed the pair's actions and said it was 'lucky no one was killed'.

Witness Simon Morgan spotted the first cyclist and said he could not believe what he had seen.

The 52-year-old, of Clayton-le-Dale, said: "I was travelling the other way and I saw a young lad cycling in the fast lane near the central reservation.

"Alarm bells started ringing and when I got to the slip road I saw a police car travelling the other way at breakneck speed to get to the cyclist.

"It was very odd, it was a good thing it was quiet and there were not many cars going past.

"It was very dangerous and very, very bizarre.

"I was thinking he had possibly taken a wrong turn or didn't know the area well."

Police thanked motorists for alerting them to the danger and said both men were found and removed from the motorway.

Officers said they were unable to say what had happened to the pair other than they had been 'dealt with'.

An AA spokesman said: "This sounds like it was ignorance that caused these men to get onto the motorway.

"The advantages of bike training means you are told what roads you are legally and illegally allowed to ride on.

"Cyclists need to know what is dangerous and what is frankly stupid behaviour.

"Fortunately no one was killed this time but I hope the pair have learned a valuable lesson."

Jason Wakeford, from the road safety charity Brake, said: "Cycling on the hard shoulder of a motorway is illegal because it is highly dangerous.

"It is not only dangerous for those on cycles but other road users too."

The law states motorways must not be used by pedestrians, holders of provisional motorcycle or car licences, horse riders and certain slow-moving vehicles as well as bicycles.

Julie Cooper, Burnley and Padiham's MP, said: "I was shocked to hear about these incidents and extremely relieved to hear that the police caught and spoke to both cyclists, averting potential loss of life to motorists and the cyclists themselves.

"Such foolhardy and dangerous behaviour is almost beyond belief.

"I have no doubt that the police will be making sure that the offenders are made aware of the recklessness of their actions in the strongest possible terms."

Earlier this year, a 25-year-old man was caught riding along the hard shoulder of the westbound carriageway between junction five and six.

The man was not arrested but fined and warned about his behaviour.

A police spokesman said: "It's not only illegal to cycle on a motorway but it's also highly dangerous.

"We would advise against it.

"This could have been extremely dangerous for both the cyclist and other motorists and thankfully no one was hurt."