Alex Bowden February 24 2018
The head of the Road Surface Treatments Association (RSTA) says that the latest bout of cycle funding merely distracts from fundamental problems with the nation’s roads. “Before making headline grabbing announcements the Government should provide real levels of investment in road maintenance to ensure that cyclists have a safe road surface to cycle on,” said Howard Robinson.
According to government figures, around 50 cyclists a year are killed or seriously injured (KSI) in Britain in incidents ‘caused by poor or defective road surfaces’.
Last week the eight cities to have benefited from Cycle City Ambition funding were invited to bid for a share of £6.5m in the latest wave of government cycle funding.
However, Robinson told Highways Magazine that the nationwide issue of potholes is the issue that needs to be addressed.
He points to the latest Annual Local Authority Road Maintenance (ALARM) survey, which found that to address the backlog of potholes and restore the local road network to a satisfactory condition would take 13 years and cost over £12bn.
“Cyclists are among our more vulnerable road users. For them, the continued deterioration of local road surfaces can result in death or serious, life-changing injuries. Initiatives to get more people cycling are to be welcomed but the Government needs to invest in the provision of a well-maintained road network that is safe to for them to use.”
Last year, after reporting on the pothole-induced death of a cyclist, the assistant coroner for Greater Manchester North said that the pothole guidance issued by the Department for Transport (DfT) in October 2016 increases the likelihood that cyclists will be killed.
Previous practice had been to repair any pothole “found to be 40mm or deeper,” but guidance now states only that potholes of 40mm or deeper should be “investigated”.
Cycling UK’s position is that better guidance is needed. Its view is that there is little to be gained from defining a minimum size of pothole and it points out that the position of a defect can render it hazardous even when it is below a certain size.
Earlier this week, Surrey Road Police tweeted that the county’s cycle lanes “are not fit for purpose” because they are “full of potholes and manhole covers”. The tweet went on to point out that luckily cyclists aren’t obliged to use them.
Cycling UK says there needs to be greater understanding of the difficulties potholes present for vulnerable road users and has called for greater investment into repairing local roads, suggesting that the Government reallocate funding from its £15bn Road Investment Strategy to deliver this.