Home
Cyclists hospitalised by potentially lethal tarmac lump

A cyclist has urged Surrey County Council to take steps to repair a road defect that has caused a number of riders to come off their bikes in recent weeks, with a number of them being taken away by ambulance, and says action needs to be taken “before someone gets killed.” A council official yesterday said it would get someone to look at the location “immediately.”

Road.cc reader Richard Lewisohn told us that “an innocuous looking bump in the Tarmac by the village green” in the B2126 Horsham Road at Holmbury St Mary in the Surrey Hills “has taken out countless cyclists.”

He said that during the past month, at least four incidents have been attended by ambulances, and his mother-in-law, who lives in the village, has seen nine riders go over their handlebars.

He told us that last Saturday alone, “in the morning and again in the afternoon, two sets of paramedics, police and ambulance had to attend for two assumed broken collarbones.”

Richard contacted Surrey County Council to urge them to repair the defect, and has also been in touch with the local newspaper, but by Saturday had heard nothing back.

Surrey Police gave him the number of the Highways Agency, although since they are only responsible for motorways and major trunk roads, the road in question is outside their remit.


The seemingly innocent bump that's a trap for the unwary

Yesterday, he succeeded in speaking to a member of staff at Surrey County Council. He told us: “The guy I spoke to seemed genuinely concerned and said they’d send someone down ‘immediately’.”

He has also been in touch with two local cycling clubs, Dorking CC and SWRC, to alert them to the danger but acknowledges that their members account for “a tiny fraction of the cyclists who use the road,” hence wanting to get the message spread further.

The defect is on the village green side of the road, and was the location of a feed station during last year’s inaugural Prudential RideLondon-Surrey 100, although Richard notes that “thankfully RideLondon’s route is from the opposite direction.”

With the event due to return next month, he added: “I’m also assuming Surrey County Council might have sorted it out by August, preferably before someone gets killed.”

Yesterday, we reported how the council has pledged to make temporary repairs to a dropped kerb in Guildford to allow the town’s annual bike races to go ahead after concerns were raised that they might have to be cancelled on safety grounds.

Recreational cycling in the county has boomed in recent years, partly due to it hosting much of the route of the 2012 Olympic road races and more recently as a result of the launch of the Prudential RideLondon legacy events.

Born in Scotland, Simon moved to London aged seven and now lives in the Oxfordshire Cotswolds with his miniature schnauzer, Elodie. He fell in love with cycling one Saturday morning in 1994 while living in Italy when Milan-San Remo went past his front door. A daily cycle commuter in London back before riding to work started to boom, he's been news editor at road.cc since 2009. Handily for work, he speaks French and Italian. He doesn't get to ride his Colnago as often as he'd like, and freely admits he's much more adept at cooking than fettling with bikes.

13 comments

Avatar
A V Lowe [568 posts] 1 year ago
0 likes

Broke my hip on one of those - no break in tarmac but 6" sunken hole - best way to measure is with a straightedge like this for dangerous ridges on tram track. Clue a 5p coin is 18mm diameter, the standard MAXIMUM for a ridge in the road/dropped kerb is 6mm and for ironwork its 3mm as any larger and a motorbike or bike tyre can get knocked sideways the ridges shown in the picture are nearly all bigger than 8mm

Use a £2 coin = 2.5mm thick to scale any ridges or steps, and any handy plank/plate for straightedge

Avatar
aslongasicycle [380 posts] 1 year ago
0 likes

Well done Richard in taking this so far!
He was very worried about this on Facebook over the weekend, and is obviously doing what can be done to draw attention to it. Good on the doers. Bad on bureaucracy.

Avatar
Bigdai100 [5 posts] 1 year ago
0 likes

Too many of us, cyclist, pedestrians and motorist assume that Councils have dedicated teams, constantly inspecting the roads. They rely on people to report road defects and I have found Surrey to be quiet responsive. The repairs may well be crap but they they are repaired, badly, quite quickly

Avatar
Gizmo_ [1333 posts] 1 year ago
0 likes

On Lea Bridge Road in Leytonstone there's a ridge at least 10 cm high running lengthways along the road in the bus lane for a few metres. It's absolutely lethal.

Avatar
miles_from_anywhere [35 posts] 1 year ago
0 likes

This is a very helpful site

http://www.fillthathole.org.uk/

I have seen many a hole filled using this

Avatar
JonD [389 posts] 1 year ago
0 likes
Bigdai100 wrote:

Too many of us, cyclist, pedestrians and motorist assume that Councils have dedicated teams, constantly inspecting the roads. They rely on people to report road defects and I have found Surrey to be quiet responsive. The repairs may well be crap but they they are repaired, badly, quite quickly

Reporting helps. But comparing what's on fillthat hole on the roads nr the gym I use (Thames Ditton) where there's numerous 8"+ wide, 1/2"+ deep sections of surface missing, they've lost the plot - reports are mainly feb2013, april2014. Tho' they *eventually* filled the 4-6" deep one at a nearby junction.

Meanwhile the road which runs alongside Send prison- not even as busy as most suburban roads -has sections of alternating new, and old top-dressed, tarmac, running in 50-100m sections. Dunno WTF they were up to there.

I've lived in/driven/ridden around N Surrey roads for the the last 24yrs, they've never been anything like as bad as they have in the last few - and there seems to be precious little evidence of them making any repairs that look like they'll have any longevity - it's just patches here and there.

Avatar
agentvialli [9 posts] 1 year ago
0 likes

Absolutely the tip of the iceberg...you should go look at Critten Lane? There are so many poor roads around the Surrey Hills its amazing. Thankfully the council do have planned works around many, but its so slow...

Avatar
dottigirl [73 posts] 1 year ago
0 likes
JonD wrote:

Meanwhile the road which runs alongside Send prison- not even as busy as most suburban roads -has sections of alternating new, and old top-dressed, tarmac, running in 50-100m sections. Dunno WTF they were up to there.

The only reasons I have been able to postulate for that section of road being repaired in such a half-hearted way are extreme penny pinching (how expensive is tarmac?) or they were trying to prevent it becoming a rat run. Even with the surface as bad as it is, cars are zooming along there. At least it's rideable now, before it was torture.

Avatar
Matt eaton [733 posts] 1 year ago
0 likes

I've reported the odd road defect, but the roads are in such poor condition now that I've all but given up. I'd be sending a report every time I went out and would be constantly stopping to take photos - not fun.

Avatar
The Sooper [3 posts] 1 year ago
0 likes

A V Lowe, your post is a little misleading. The tolerances that you define are those that are applied to a contractor when laying a new surface or kerb. These are different from the maintenance standards that authorities apply to an ongoing surface. Over time of course, roads wear out. They change shape/deflect and they are disturbed by traffic, trench excavations and changes in subsoil moisture content, amongst other things. Highway authorities set specific standards for maintenance of these conditions, usually following national guidance set out in the Code of Practice "Well Maintained Highways" produced by the Dept for Transport. "Trips" that are defined as defects requiring prompt intervention are usually specified as 40mm deep in carriageways and 20mm deep in footways and cycleways. There are also specific tolerances for trench settlement which are set out in the New Roads and Street Works Act. These depend upon the width of trench of course but will always be greater then the 3mm and 6mm you refer to. The 6" hole that caused your fall would almost certainly be defined as an actionable defect. The test for liability would depend on whether the local authority could reasonably have been aware of the defect and could have reasonably been expected to attend to it. Incidentally, I happen to be a local authority highway engineer, member of my local cycle club and cycle several thousand miles per year.

Avatar
richardlewisohn [2 posts] 1 year ago
0 likes

What led me to contact road.cc in the first place is that nothing was being done about the issue, and 2 ambulances (and paramedics and police cars) in one day was ridiculous. Most of the 'victims' said they would be calling Surrey County Council (of course I've got no idea if they did) and I first called them weeks ago.

Someone (not the council!) has stuck white tape on the road to warn cyclists where the hole is. Hopefully that will hold up for a while.

I'll post a comment when and if any action is finally taken!

Avatar
Ordinary Cyclin... [29 posts] 1 year ago
0 likes

So pleased to see that someone is taking some action and I hope it's successful. It shouldn't take the death of a cyclist for the authorities to do something to make the roads safe. That old addage...prevention is better than cure spring to mind...or even...it's better to be safe than sorry. Come on people, cyclists do matter!

Avatar
kide [26 posts] 1 year ago
0 likes

Perhaps there is a market for a small can of spray paint in hi-viz colour that cyclists could use for marking these lethal road defects...