Multiple Olympic champion cyclist Sir Chris Hoy has helped launch a campaign that aims to deal with Britain’s growing and sometimes deadly pothole problem by urging for more funding to be spent on road maintenance.
The new campaign has been launched by Aggregate Industries just weeks after army officer Jonathan Allen was killed by a lorry in Wiltshire after apparently swerving to avoid a massive pothole.
Hoy, who was in Manchester at the weekend inspecting some of the city’s worst potholes, said: "A lot of people lack the confidence to ride their bikes in and around urban areas, not just because of the traffic but because of poor road surfaces."
The Scot added: "Aggregate Industries is looking at not just the short term problem with potholes, but raising awareness of the need to improve road surfaces long term. This in turn will make it safer and give cyclists more confidence. The more people we can get on bikes the better, meaning less congestion, improving health and fitness and many other spin offs. If you spot a pothole, get in touch with your local authority or visit www.fillthathole.org.uk ".
Aggregate Industries, a supplier of heavy building materials serving sectors including road infrastructure, which would therefore presumably stand to benefit from any increased funding, claims that currently there is a £1 billion shortfall in road maintenance budgets in England and Wales, where 1.4 million potholes were reported last year.
It added that although £100 million has been spent on repairing potholes this year, that work only involves patching.
The company insists that Chancellor Alistair Darling’s recent budget pledge of £100 million to help fill potholes is “nowhere near the estimated £9.5billion needed to bring the country's roads up to standard,” adding that it is “championing a new approach to planning, design, materials and ongoing maintenance.”
According to Mike Archer, national contracting director at Aggregate Industries' Bardon Contracting business,: "The state of our roads is countering the many current initiatives to get more people onto bikes. Whether this is cycling to work or school, cycling for fun, keeping fit, or even cycling professionally, until there is a better environment for cyclists, many people will simply be deterred from riding a bike. We want to encourage cyclists and would be cyclists to help us get more funds diverted to road maintenance. "
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.