National Pothole Day has once again passed, and the recognition it’s received this year has been phenomenal. Created to draw attention to the number of potholes that plague Britain’s roads, it was designed to educate and inform all road users about the dangers these ruts and dents can present.
Cycling UK, which runs the pothole reporting webtool and app Fill That Hole, has expressed its alarm and concern at what appears to be a steadily worsening trend, with 64 cyclists killed or seriously injured (KSI) in 2016, compared to 17 in 2007.
- On National Pothole Day (08 March) Cycling UK highlights the horrors caused by pothole Britain
- At least 22 people killed & 368 seriously injured while cycling due to “poor or defective roads”
- Estimated to cost £12bn to fix roads; Government has allocated £6bn
Between 2007 and 2016, 22 people cycling have died and 368 have been seriously injured due to the poor state and maintenance of Britain’s roads.
Commenting on the latest figures Sam Jones, Cycling UK’s Senior Campaigns officer said:
“Cycling UK is incredibly concerned to see what is clearly a trend on the up showing more people being killed or seriously injured while cycling, all because our roads are in a shocking state. Unfortunately for cyclists if they hit a pothole, then it’s not just a costly repair bill but also a strong possibility of personal injury or in the worst cases death.”
Following years of hard winters and hot summers, the UK’s local roads are widely recognised to be in desperate need of national investment, with the Asphalt Industry Alliance estimating it will take 10 years and £12bn to make them safe again.
Potholes: from “Local Problem to National Disgrace”
The Road Surface Treatments Association (RSTA) said the situation resulted from decades of under-investment in maintaining the local road network. Chief executive Howard Robinson said: “Decades of government under-funding have deprived local councils from having the resources to carry out comprehensive planned maintenance. Instead, we have inefficient patch-and-mend of a never-ending pothole plague where hard-pressed councils take one step forward and two steps back.
“National Pothole Day puts the focus on a local problem that is fast becoming a national disgrace. After years of trying to ignore the extent of the problem the government needs to wake-up and provide real levels of assured funding for local road maintenance.”
National company Tarmac also has a view on this, expressed by Paul Fleetham, Managing Director Contracting at Tarmac: “In the UK – however parochial or trivial the issue may seem at first glance to some – the potholes we thud over in our cars or swerve around on our bikes threaten to rival the “never-ending winter” as a topic of conversation.
“The majority of people outside of our industry are unaware (and you can’t blame them) that local authorities and highways contractors continue to face network decline due to long-term underinvestment and public-sector cuts. As the local road network deteriorates, the cost of maintenance escalates exponentially and the impact of spending cuts creates a perfect storm for potholes.”
For no one is this reminder more relevant than it is for today’s cyclists. TfL predicted early last year that 2018 would be the year that bikes overtook cars on the roads of London for the first time. Across the country, we are seeing more and more people taking to their bikes in favour of public transport.
Advice for National Pothole Day
Fantastic as this growth is to see, we thought the nature of the occasion at hand proved a poignant time to remind cyclists to look out for one another when out on the roads. Riding a bike is a fun and rewarding way of travelling and we’re sure each and every cyclist wants to keep it this way. Fredrik Carling, CEO of Hövding wanted to provide some advice from their team of urban cycling experts as to how cyclists can best handle the pothole problem:
1: Potholes. You know what they are and how to spot one, just remember to point potholes out to the cyclists behind you whenever possible. You know the best bet to avoid the dreaded ‘snakebite’ puncture, a buckled wheel, or – worse still – coming off your bike, is to swerve and avoid them altogether. When doing so, no matter how last minute the manoeuvre, always look over your shoulder and indicate first.
2: Solutions. As mentioned above, avoiding potholes whenever possible is key. Another very simple way to minimalise the threat of a puncture from a pothole is to increase your tire pressure to the highest recommended PSI (this can be found marked on the side of your tire). However, in a country with low visibility and busy cities, the possibility of riding over a pothole when unprepared does still exist. For this reason we also stress the importance of head protection. Traditional helmets are available at all price points, and these are preferable to not wearing any protection at all. However, for maximum safety, Hövding provides eight times better protection against head injuries compared to traditional helmets according to a study from Stanford University. What’s more, it protects a larger area of the head and the back of the neck.
3: Bikes. It is worth considering the fact that different bikes can sustain varying levels of wear and tear. A mountain bike, for example, though not a popular choice for commuting, would not suffer any damage from potholes. Boris bikes, as well, are designed to be durable and though they are not the comfiest, they can prove sturdy on a worn down road. The main type of bike that will struggle with potholes is the road bike, however, we’ve recently notices a big trend of people switching to flat bar bikes. Also known as commuter bikes, these possess 700×35 width wheels, making them superior in width and grip – perfect for the urban environment and weaving around potholes.
4: Reporting. Potholes are a problem on British roads, but each road user can be a part of the solution. It is possible to report a pothole by contacting your local council, or alternatively filling in this online form. Last but not least, make sure to support the National Pothole Day mission by helping to spread the word.