Cycling and motoring have become unlikely bedfellows in a bid to combat what has become a scourge of the road in many areas – potholes. British Cycling has teamed up with the AA (Automobile Association), JCB and the National Motorcyclists' Council to create a five-point plan aimed at tackling the problem.
The announcement comes on what is National Pothole Day (hope you had that marked on the calendar).
Damage to vehicles last year at the hands of potholes was estimated at nearly half a billion pounds, with the AA dealing with more than 600,000 incidents. However, it is cyclists and motorists who are most at risk, says the alliance.
The group is calling on the government to implement a pledge whose five key strategies come under the headings:
Permanent (permanent repairs)
Precise (contractors keep to nation-wide standards)
Price (moving more quickly to use the £8.6 billion pothole repair fund)
Provision (ringfencing road maintenance spending)
Progress (full local authority transparency on their road repair backlog).
BC's external affairs director Caroline Julian said: “We know from our members that potholes are a longstanding frustration and concern. They have tragic and fatal consequences that cannot be ignored.
"If we’re serious about fulfilling our ambitions to get more people cycling, we simply must ensure that our roads are safe and comfortable for them to ride on, and not the crater-filled carriageways they currently face.”
Cycling UK has also marked National Pothole Day by releasing a new, updated version of its highly successful Fill That Hole tool. Launched back in 2007, the tool enables users to report troublesome potholes by only having to fill in a few simple details, and the tool then forwards the report to the relevant highway authority. It has been used to help fill nearly 200,000 holes since 2007.
The new version is more compatible with council systems and has a greater chance of each pothole report reaching its intended destination and less chance of being rejected, CUK says.
Its chief executive Sarah Mitchell said: “It’s important to report road defects when we find them for the safety of us all, and Cycling UK hopes that everyone who cycles will make these reports more easily than ever using Fill That Hole.”
Last year Cycling Weekly launched its own war on potholes. Among those we spoke to was Cycling UK, which told us a holistic approach was needed. We also spoke to the Green Party, whose spokesman told us that the government should scrap roadbuilding in order to concentrate on filling potholes.
We even witnessed at first hand the menace potholes pose, with Adam Becket's ride mate coming down while on a group ride, causing significant damage to himself and his bike. In the same piece we reported how 1.4 million holes had been filled in 2022 – and yet there is so much still to do.
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