So the temperatures have finally hit double figures and I am keen to get out and cover some miles at speed to build up for some summer events, but as I push my speed is constantly drained away by the bumps and rattles of the road. There are crizzles, crackles, cracks, crumbles, potholes and cobbles everywhere! The state of the road is getting ridiculous now and I haven't seen a good repair in a couple of years. I have discovered a few places where the road has been resurfaced with notorious 'chip and seal'. Since last summer some of these same roads are now in a worse condition than before, there are drifts of gravel on the side of the road across the whole of the cycle lane making traction dangerous and punctures likely. This also means no road sweepers are out either. I have watched patches of road just spoil away where regular heavy lorries and buses pass through.
Utilities companies are digging up patches of road and only repaving the smallest possible area, leaving the outside of the road a crazy paving patchwork of overlapping cracks. Some bits of road I find I just can't cycle as close to the edge of the road as I should. I would be quite happy sticking to cycle lanes if there were more and they were actually paved well and not just given a spray of green paint, but I can't. I have to ride well to the middle of the lane, often having to be two metres into the lane (or brake quickly to avoid hitting large holes) blocking off irate motorists who are only intent on overtaking me even if they have to brake for a junction almost immediately. They have no idea why I am not just going up the double yellow lines and probably wouldn't care if they knew. The outside of the road is taking all the damage and this is effecting cyclists the most. I am being forced into a more dangerous position on the road; though I am not given a choice about paying my Council Tax for this pleasure.
If I fell off and sued the council would that be helping, obviously not, however the cyclist injury cases they must be getting must not be enough to out weight the cost of repairing our crumbling infrastructure. Some broken bones or dead cyclists thrown under buses isn't enough. I haven't seen a single road that has been repaved properly, from side to side in years, just the minimum hole filling by the council, and we are almost reaching a lowest common denominator; a gravelization of our roads.
Despite living in Manchester, England's second city, there is not a drop of blue paint within 200 miles of here. Fixing the roads of London for the Olympics and to make Boris look good is all very well, but the vast majority of people don't live in the capital.
I am seriously concerned that if nothing changes in the next couple of years that it will become impossible to use a road bike on UK roads. I might have to go back to bumping along on a mountain bike as my current bike slowly rattles apart, at a cost to my time, money and health. I know that libraries and swimming pools are getting hit too, but I feel like there is very little I can do to protest this problem. Road cyclists just have to get to work on time and hope they don't get a puncture on the way.