England's pothole capital revealed

New research reveals south-western city has poorest road surfaces in the country

Cyclist riding over a pothole
(Image credit: Cycling Active)

Bristol has the most damaged roads in England, according to research by insurance company Compare the Market (opens in new tab)

The city, which was named the UK’s first cycling city in 2008, is said to be in desperate need of roadworks, with 78.5% of the roads requiring repairs. Just 21% of Bristol’s road network is considered to be “in good condition”. 

In conducting their research (opens in new tab), Compare the Market gathered and analysed local authority data from across the country, ranking each region by the state of its road infrastructure. 

After Bristol, the insurance company found that most affected local authorities were in the North West, which is responsible for three of the top five areas in need of improvement. These include Blackburn with Darwen, Cheshire West and Chester and Kowsley, with the East Midlands authority of Derbyshire also ranking high. 

The country’s best roads were found to be in Redcar and Cleveland, in the North East, where over 90% of the roads are said to be in good shape. 

Julie Daniels, a motor insurance expert at Compare the Market, described potholes as “the bane” of every road user’s life. 

“Not only are they a road safety hazard, they can also cause significant damage to your car if you hit one,” Daniels said. 

Potholes pose a serious risk to cyclists, with crashes caused by poor road surfaces sometimes proving fatal. A 2021 survey marking National Pothole Day found that 21% of cyclists had been in an accident because of a pothole, with 22% of those experiencing personal injury. 

Since the Highway Authority has a legal duty to maintain roads, cyclists are able to make compensation claims for injuries suffered as a result of poor road conditions. 

British charity Cycling UK (opens in new tab) recommends that cyclists report potholes to the Highway Authority, which is often done through local councils, to ensure they are noted for future road maintenance works. 

“You should always report potholes wherever possible,” the charity outlines on its website. “This ensures a council is aware of the pothole and has an obligation to inspect it, and will help other cyclists who may have to make their own compensation claim.” 

Cycling UK also has its own online tool, Fill That Hole (opens in new tab), which filters through to the relevant authorities. 

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Tom Davidson
News and Features Writer

Tom is one of Cycling Weekly's news and features writers. In 2020, he started The TT Podcast, covering both the men's and women's pelotons and featuring a number of British riders. 

An enthusiastic cyclist himself, Tom likes it most when the road goes uphill and actively seeks out double-figure gradients on his rides. 

He's also fluent in French and Spanish and holds a master's degree in International Journalism.