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Olympic champ highlights poor state of Britain's roads and what you can do to help mend them...

Victoria Pendleton’s Olympic and World Championship success may have been forged on the smooth boards of velodromes around the world, but Britain’s potholed roads have left the track star less than impressed, and now she’s backing a campaign to highlight the issue and reward those local authorities that take prompt action to remedy damaged roads.

The 30-year-old, who recently gave her backing to a Hovis Stop Snacking campaign presumably designed to stop people filling the hole in their stomachs, has now given her endorsement to one aimed at filling the holes in the road from road materials supplier Aggregate Industries and national cyclists' organisation CTC.

Pendleton, who plans to ride in the new women’s team sprint and keirin events at the London Olympics, as well as defending the individual sprint title she won at Beijing, says: “Following more bad weather this winter, potholes are still a serious problem for road users, particularly people cycling to work or school, cycling for fun, keeping fit or even cycling professionally.

“We have to make our roads safer and more accessible for cyclists who often lack confidence to ride their bikes in and around urban areas because of poor road surfaces.”

CTC and Aggregate Industries have now launched a new initiative which sees the creation of a league table of councils ranked on how quickly they take action to repair potholes notified on the Fill That Hole website, set up by CTC in 2007, which has so far seen 43,000 reports of roads needing repair notified to local authorities and the Highways Agency, with 13,000 repaired.

Winning councils, which will assessed on the basis of ratings given by users of the Fill That Hole website, will get the chance to meet Pendleton at an awards ceremony hosted by CTC in May, and the cyclist adds: “I’m getting involved because anything that showcases pothole repairs and encourages councils to improve their roads has to be a good thing for both cyclists and motorists.”

Trade body the Asphalt Industry Alliance (AIA) claims that each mile of local authority-owned road in England and Wales is home to ten potholes on average, and that by this spring, there could be as many as 2 million potholes nationwide.

According to AIA spokeswoman Helen Melhuish, "This is a very serious issue. Cyclists and motorcyclists are the road users most vulnerable to accidents caused by potholes. If government provided more funding to help get local roads back into reasonable condition, local authorities would be better able to implement their planned preventative maintenance programmes.”

A new version of the Fill That Hole iPhone app, launched by CTC last Autumn with support from Aggregate Industries, has also been developed which now makes it easier than ever before for users of the Apple smartphone to lodge details of potholes needing attention, enabling them to upload a photo of the defect and tag it with GPS data.

CTC is also offering £500 to spend at the CTC shop, operated by Wiggle, for the best reporter of holes to the Fill That Hole website between mid-January and mid-April this year.

Roger Geffen, Campaigns and Policy Director at CTC, comments: “The public is very keen to see improved road maintenance standards, and this is particularly true for cyclists, as good surfaces are hugely important for their safety. With FillThatHole making it easy for road users to report road defects, people are discovering that most councils are pretty good at fixing these defects quickly once they know about them.“

The campaign, and Pendleton’s involvement in it, hasn’t met with universal approval, however, with one blogger describing it as providing his “Monday morning Jesus Wept.”

The blogger, who apparently fails to appreciate that potholes put cyclists at an increased risk compared to other road users, has been put right on that point in the comments to his entry, as well as receiving clarification over his misuse of the outdated term “road tax” (and his urging of cyclists to “pay some” of it).
 

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.

11 comments

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winprint [129 posts] 5 years ago
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THIS APP IS MUSTARD. EASY TO USE, AND MY LOCAL COUNCIL REDBRIDGE HAS FILLED IN EVERY HOLE I'VE REPORTED, AS THEY ARE UNDER LEGAL OBLIGATION TO DO SO.
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renko [40 posts] 5 years ago
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Cue lots of hole filling japes;-)

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gandberg [175 posts] 5 years ago
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Cartermagna [2 posts] 5 years ago
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It did provide my Monday morning Jesus wept but in the mad rush to post something during my boss' fag break, I don't think I was clear enough in the post as to why.

Potholes should not be front page news and it shouldn't take the opinion of anyone in the public eye to "raise awareness" of the damn things. I'd feel the same if Kim and Aggie started a campaign to get the bins emptied once a week, it should happen anyway!

Potholes should be fixed straightaway. Without argument, publicity or hesitation. It's a basic requirement and, as was pointed out to me, we all pay for it. My views on taxation and what the distribution of public funds should be are a different matter. Like I said if I pay it and it goes into the public purse, it’s a tax. If I pay it via the petrol pump or the little disc in the windscreen, it’s a tax. Outdated term or not, it's a tax, it's taken at gunpoint and calling it by another name just obscures the fact that it's a tax.

I didn't say anything about potholes being merely an annoyance to motorists and a very real danger to cyclists for the same reason I don't condemn kiddy porn in every post I write. It's taken as read isn't it?

I don't "hate" cyclists and I wasn't "hating on" Miss Pendleton. I hate everyone on the road who isn't doing the same speed as me. ;o)

Call me dim if you like, that was the retweeted term on Twitter after all, but do so on the strength of more than just one post and at least give credit for the willingness to engage, rather than shout down or ignore.

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Gregoire500 [104 posts] 5 years ago
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If you want to blow off some steam then I sincerely recommend getting on a bike and going for a ride.

I'm not saying that to be sanctimonious or prove a point-I'm saying it because you'll probably really enjoy it (until you hit a long hill anyway...) and it might give you a break from driving, which-I find at least-to be effing stressful, traffic saturated, start-stop and expensive.

You seem like an open-minded chap so why not?

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Cartermagna [2 posts] 5 years ago
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I agree that blowing off steam is very, very important. We have Chimpanzee hardware and that hardware requires a certain amount of energy to be expended. Our software is entered after we're born and often times, is totally at odds with our hardware. It's no wonder we throw a shoe occasionally. I'm all for doing things that keep a body healthy and happy, a point that wasn't in the original post with the omission of a hyperlink, but I believe it's down to the individual. The money and government stuff that I (try to) write about stems from certain Libertarian views that I have.

As for cycling, sod that! There's some nutters out there on the road! ;o)

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handlebarcam [803 posts] 5 years ago
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From the headline I thought it was another plug by Ms. Pendleton for a certain famous brand of sliced bread.

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TheHatter [770 posts] 5 years ago
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Have to agree that fillthathole works - well worth reporting the particularly nasty pot holes.

Also I have to add that, welcome as any picture of Miss P always is, I hope that all the publicity work isn't distracting from her olympic preparations.

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italiafirenze [70 posts] 5 years ago
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Not even a single "I'll fill her hole" remark?

What a mature bunch, not like BikeRadar.

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rootes [51 posts] 5 years ago
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Is there an app for android phones?

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fretters [44 posts] 5 years ago
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looks like santa got my letter after all  41