The potential danger to cyclists of poorly maintained roads has been highlighted by new research which found that only one-in-ten local authorities are meeting their own target times to fix potholes and road defects.
The research from Cycling UK found that out of 85 local authorities who responded to Freedom of Information requests, only 1-in- 10 successfully repaired all reported potholes. North Tyneside Council was one of the most effective authorities, repairing all 39,258 identified potholes on time between 2015-19, while Wakefield City Council was the worst performer, managing to fill only 13% of reported potholes on time. While no part of the UK performed well, 1 in 6 English authorities meet their target times of three weeks for non-urgent potholes. However, not a single responding authority in Scotland or Wales achieved this.
While potholes are a real problem for everyone who uses the roads, they pose a particular risk of injury to cyclists. At least 448 cyclists have been killed or seriously injured on our roads over the past 10 years, with three deaths in 2018, the last year with available data. The charity has suggested that this is only the tip of the iceberg, with most crashes never reaching the statistics if no police officer attends the scene.
“Cyclists are amongst our most vulnerable road users. For them a deterioration in the road surface can result in serious, life-changing injuries,” said Mike Harper, chief executive of the Road Surface Treatments Association. “There is currently a £9.7 billion backlog of local road maintenance, Despite the Chancellor’s recent Budget pledge to provide an additional £2.5 billion to maintain local roads over the next five years, the backlog, continued cuts in funding and the ever increasing use of roads means that local councils are fighting a losing battle and find it difficult to keep pace with the level of road repairs required.”
He continued: “The injection of additional funding is welcomed. However, the government needs to examine how to provide assured, long-term funding that will allow local authorities to carry out programmes of preventative maintenance that would keep roads in good condition and stop the potholes from forming the first place.”