Poor quality pothole repairs putting cyclists at risk, says AA

Half of potholes repaired present hazard to bike riders, wnd situation worse with inspection covers, finds AA Streetwatch survey

by Simon_MacMichael   December 19, 2012  

pothole_garden_04.jpg

A survey from the AA has found that poor quality repairs to potholes by local authorities are putting vulnerable road users such as cyclists at risk. In total, there are fewer potholes than were observed this time last year, but with Britain yet to see the onset of winter weather in earnest, there is still an average of 6.25 potholes per mile of road.

The results come from the AA Streetwatchers survey, carried out by AA members, who spent a combined total of 800 hours assessing the streets where they live and found an average of 12.5 potholes per road compared to 14.9 per cent last year. On pavements alone, 1.9 potholes were found per mile.

On average, 7.8 poor quality repairs were observed by each member participating, up from 6.2 12 months ago, and almost half of those were believed to present a danger to cyclists.

Inspection covers that were at a different level to the road surface were seen 3.6 times on average, compared to 4.5 times in 2011, but two thirds were thought to be hazardous for bike riders.

Breaking down the results into potholes per mile, regionally, the problem is worse the further north you are (results for Wales and the North East were not statistically robust enough to be shown):

Scotland – roads 8.9, pavements/paths 2.81

Yorkshire/Humberside – roads 8.5, pavements/paths 3.9

West Midlands – roads 7.3, pavements/paths 2.1

East Midlands – roads 6.4, pavements/paths 1.5

North West – 6.1 roads, pavements/paths 1.5

South East – roads 5.8, pavements/paths 1.4

East Anglia – roads 5.6, pavements/paths 1.3

South West – roads 5.2, pavements/paths 1.0

London – roads 4.9, pavements/paths 2.4

Streetwatchers noted a marked deterioration in the condition of footways, creating danger for pedestrians and the elderly in particular, with an average of 10 instances of uneven surface recorded against 7.6 in the last survey.

Other issues found during the survey, in which individual Streetwatchers typically assessed a two mile stretch in their local area, included signs, lines and road markings needing repair, as well as an increase in the amount of litter.

AA President Edmund King, said: “Only recently, the Local Government Association warned that potholes may again become a serious problem this winter with local authority budget cuts biting and no likelihood of extra government cash.

“The AA Streetwatch survey has found that, although patching up the roads after last winter’s ravages has brought some improvement, their condition is on a knife-edge and drivers are still likely to have to dodge potholes,” says Edmund King, the AA’s president.

“We are once again grateful to our loyal band of AA Streetwatchers who have gone out and helped us take a snapshot of road and path conditions in their local area.  This year they did note some improvement but also continuing problems on the ground.  Their main concern was, once more, potholes which blight some neighbourhoods, pose danger and risk damage for all road users - whether on two feet, two wheels or four wheels.

"We also had individual reports of deep potholes which are a total menace in the dark or in rain when often they are not spotted until it is too late. The deep potholes damage tyres and wheels and are a major safety risk for cyclists and motorcyclists.”

The AA welcomed £333 million made available for highways maintenance by Chancellor of the Exchequer George Osborne in his recent autumn statement, which will be spent on motorways, trunk roads and local roads, saying that it “will soften the potential impact of recent highway maintenance budget cut backs because of austerity.”

But, it said, “Long term stable budgets are the best way of reversing highway decline.”

Don't forget that if you discover a pothole, you can report it to the relevant authoriities via CTC's Fill That Hole website.

31 user comments

Latest 30 commentsNewest firstBest ratedAll

Seen some awful ones in our area and that was before the cold snap. I haven't been out since but I can imagine!

posted by Super Domestique [1626 posts]
19th December 2012 - 12:35

7 Likes

there are some on my route to work that'd need a ladder to get out from if I hit them!!!

posted by mrchrispy [306 posts]
19th December 2012 - 12:44

2 Likes

On some parts of my commute the number of potholes has indeed fallen, but it's not because the council have been fixing them; it's because they're now so large they've started joining up.

Potholes that I first reported to our council in 2011 are still there; some of them are now so large they even have potholes inside them!

posted by Saratoga [19 posts]
19th December 2012 - 12:46

2 Likes

I was seriously thinking about opening a Twitter account for a hole that my Mrs passes (and comments on) every day on her school run.

I think my local council might as well be filling it with Plasticine as it keeps reappearing every fortnight.

If I could work out away to get the Twitter account to automatically retweet any messages to it, the account (hole) would be able to tell it's followers about any other craters / potholes that are around. (If you see what I mean).

Velotastic !

Too many hills, but too little time.

badback's picture

posted by badback [268 posts]
19th December 2012 - 13:00

3 Likes

Thought CX bikes were doing well.

mingmong's picture

posted by mingmong [205 posts]
19th December 2012 - 13:08

3 Likes

Has anyone used the Fill That Hole app for smart phones? I think it's a CTC app. You basically take a photo of the pothole and it sends the info to CTC (?) and they inform the local council who, in theory, then deal with said pothole.

Just wonder if the system works?

posted by AWP [77 posts]
19th December 2012 - 13:12

4 Likes

There was a really dangerous one near me which has now been filled in thankfully. It was on a fairly busy B road just after a pinch point at a bridge and was sufficiently big that you had to steer into the middle of the road to avoid it. Couple that with some drivers insisting on being so close to you that they couldn't see what you were avoiding, it all got a bit hairy. If you had gone into it, it would either have totalled the wheel or thrown you off, or both.

posted by Sadly Biggins [265 posts]
19th December 2012 - 13:14

4 Likes

Manchester council has a reporting section on their website, no doubt other local councils do too. You report a problem, and about 50% seem to get filled in, but I wouldn't say repaired. Its the proverbial sticking plaster approach. What happens to the other 50% I don't know, you don't get any response saying its been inspected or not, so I've just assumed the report disappears into the vacuum. Is the CTC one any more successful/feedback friendly?

Zermattjohn's picture

posted by Zermattjohn [72 posts]
19th December 2012 - 13:22

3 Likes

This is a result of years and years of bodging and poor planning/under investment. Just talking about potholes understates the problem on many of the roads I use. The roads are in such a poor state many are well past their useful life and need completely re doing which would cost many billions of pounds. Many country lanes should be reclassified as bridleways in their current state, and the A and B roads are not much better.

Why are billins being spent on new roads or adding lanes when they clearly can not look after what already exists, it is insane.

posted by ilovemytinbred [164 posts]
19th December 2012 - 13:27

2 Likes

Yes the CTC Fill that Hole site does work. The report goes to the right place at the right council. Here in Oxfordshire, the work does get done, not always immediately of course. Mind you, I have had some repairs completed within a few days.

As ever, it does require cyclists to take the effort to fill in the online form when they see a problem.

Edgeley

posted by Edgeley [173 posts]
19th December 2012 - 14:03

3 Likes

Who needs an app? Pretty sure I've used fill that hole website from my mobile. Big benefit is that it works out the right highway authority for you. Especially handy around road.cc hq with the battling business units... Sorry, I mean small unitary councils.

posted by a.jumper [710 posts]
19th December 2012 - 14:29

2 Likes

Around my way (Essex) they seem to be using a sort of splodge-fix method with a sprinkling of gravel over the top. Which is fine, better than a hole, except that cars going over the splodge while it's setting make a dip in the middle of the hole and a couple of sharp thrown-up blobs either side: lumps are almost as dangerous as holes and they're less visible!

Boardman CX Team '14 | Cannondale CAAD8 '12 (written off, SMIDSY) | Scott Sportster '08

Gizmo_'s picture

posted by Gizmo_ [897 posts]
19th December 2012 - 14:38

3 Likes

I've tried using Fill that Hole. The problem is my local council does respond, but does that bad a job that we are back to square one a few months later.

My nearest road out into the Peak has been 'marked up' for filling for the past few months and has got that bad that I won't take anything but my mountain bike down it.

Velotastic !

Too many hills, but too little time.

badback's picture

posted by badback [268 posts]
19th December 2012 - 14:40

3 Likes

Potholes won't go aways because the size/weight of trucks/buses is too much for our roads. In summer the bitumen softens and cracks under the weight of large vehicles, then winter comes along and chunks are removed where cracks exists. Large vehicles that cause road damage need to be taxed based on how much weight they put on each cubic centimeter of road, as this is what is damaging the surface. Maybe this will lead to better vehicle designs that spread the load over a larger surface area and so do less damage to our roads. Either that, or use a harder road surface. Big Grin

Nic

posted by nbrus [281 posts]
19th December 2012 - 14:48

4 Likes

Yep I have used the CTC website and the holes were filled. That said they were filled poorly but that is about it with everything these days shoddy workmanship and a be quiet and stop moaning attitude. Having had a good few years experience in all things construction the fact that they just dump some tarmac into the hole, tamp it down if you’re lucky, and then move on to the next one it is no wonder that the roads are in a complete state. The broken edges of a hole should be cut out and a proper patch should be filled in over the top with staggered joints so there is no direct access for the water to ingress to the original hole to cause the problem over again as soon as it freezes, just dumping tarmac into the hole does not do this and the hole will be back and generally worse as the rough edges have now failed. The answer? Many but starting with more regular properly done road maintenance would be a good one. What happened to the tar spraying that they used to do to prevent the water getting into, and therefore under, the road surface as they seemed to last longer when they did it?? Probably about time to bring it back.

cidermart's picture

posted by cidermart [467 posts]
19th December 2012 - 16:36

3 Likes

Potholes are certainly a problem but irrational insistence on using a racing bike with narrow tyres as a every day ride/commuter doesn't help...

I don't follow trends. Trends follow me.

posted by BBB [187 posts]
19th December 2012 - 16:49

3 Likes

If Mr. King carries on like this he is going to find himself out of a job!

FATBEGGARONABIKE's picture

posted by FATBEGGARONABIKE [594 posts]
19th December 2012 - 17:28

4 Likes

Have used CTC Fill that hole, works a treat. The Council do not have a duty to keep roads pot-hole free; it has a duty to inspect at reasonable frequency and repair holes in reasonable time once it knows about them. Once they know about the hole and have reasonable time to repair they can become liable for any damage/injury. Even if 'irrationally?'BBB? using a racing bike!

posted by SideBurn [836 posts]
19th December 2012 - 17:51

3 Likes

God, heaven forbid I should use a road bike on the road. BBB that has to be the most bizarre thing I have read on a bike forum, and considering I read singletrack that is saying something.

posted by ilovemytinbred [164 posts]
19th December 2012 - 18:13

3 Likes

ilovemytinbred wrote:
God, heaven forbid I should use a road bike on the road. BBB that has to be the most bizarre thing I have read on a bike forum, and considering I read singletrack that is saying something.

I didn't mean road bikes in general but racing bikes. The ones that can only run 23-25mm tyres and were designed from ground for racing not cycling/commuting on potholed roads. You know the ones that marketers want consumers to buy so they think they are fast and they look like pros. Riding on a piece of rubber as narrow as a thumbnail is what's really bizarre.

A sensibly built road or cx bike with 35mm or wider tyres makes more sense on very bad roads and can make a difference between uncomfortable THUMP! and going over the handle bars.

Of course certain potholes are so large that woul swallow a mountain bike wheel but still picking the right tool for the job increases one's survival rate.

I don't follow trends. Trends follow me.

posted by BBB [187 posts]
19th December 2012 - 21:45

1 Like

I have just wrecked an alloy wheel and tyre on my car hitting a sunken Fire Hydrant cover. The wheel was less than 12 months old as I had to replace one last winter too.

If I had hit that on my bike I would have been over the bars for sure. It could have been my head rather than a wheel.

The roads are a disgrace - for all road users.

posted by mfarrington [9 posts]
19th December 2012 - 23:55

3 Likes

Wrecked a back wheel (32mm) on my CX bike – I really shouldn't have to ride a mountain bike to work. Council said they wouldn't compensate me and ignored my questions, eventually they paid up.

posted by dtd [56 posts]
20th December 2012 - 0:17

3 Likes

BBB wrote:
ilovemytinbred wrote:
God, heaven forbid I should use a road bike on the road. BBB that has to be the most bizarre thing I have read on a bike forum, and considering I read singletrack that is saying something.

I didn't mean road bikes in general but racing bikes. The ones that can only run 23-25mm tyres and were designed from ground for racing not cycling/commuting on potholed roads. You know the ones that marketers want consumers to buy so they think they are fast and they look like pros. Riding on a piece of rubber as narrow as a thumbnail is what's really bizarre.

A sensibly built road or cx bike with 35mm or wider tyres makes more sense on very bad roads and can make a difference between uncomfortable THUMP! and going over the handle bars.

Of course certain potholes are so large that woul swallow a mountain bike wheel but still picking the right tool for the job increases one's survival rate.

??? I think your pothole is deep enough mate. Stop making it deeper! Raised Eyebrow

Sq

Squiggle's picture

posted by Squiggle [414 posts]
20th December 2012 - 2:22

3 Likes

BBB, you do know this is road.cc don't you?

posted by FMOAB [235 posts]
20th December 2012 - 2:36

3 Likes

Whether you like it or not the quality of roads isn't going to improve and most likely will be getting worse due to the budget cuts.

You will either adapt to it (even if it means riding e.g. 2.35" wide Big Apples on the road) or you will keep breaking stuff or yourself.

I don't follow trends. Trends follow me.

posted by BBB [187 posts]
20th December 2012 - 5:05

0 Likes

I agree there are some mean pot holes out there BBB, but in all the years I have been riding (listen to me, "When I was a lad....") I have wrecked one bike (got compensation) and a few rims. Admitted one of my companions broke his collar bone in the same incident as the wrecked bike. I do not really think that means we all need to ride off road bikes on the road all the time. My commuter bike (a CX) does seem to get a pounding, but this is because I ride at night, I think, and in all weathers. Whereas the Carbon gets off more lightly; I still have a 23mm tyres on the CX. Down here in the wilds of Devon we have some right rough old roads. As I have said above we should take the time and trouble to report potholes (CTC Fillthathole) it does not take long and, to steal someone elses catchphrase, "The next life (or bike) you save could be yours!"

posted by SideBurn [836 posts]
20th December 2012 - 5:19

2 Likes

The last I heard it was only an i-phone app and not an Android one. If it's now Android I'll start using it but I'm afraid the use of the site rather fell off my radar this year.

posted by RuthF28 [92 posts]
20th December 2012 - 10:13

2 Likes

cidermart wrote:
What happened to the tar spraying that they used to do to prevent the water getting into, and therefore under, the road surface as they seemed to last longer when they did it?? Probably about time to bring it back.

A North Somerset Council officer told a public meeting that a motorcyclist somewhere skidded and crashed on a smooth tar band and successfully sued the council concerned, so now no contractors tar-seal small repairs. I never found out where that happened and I suspect it's an urban legend started by road repair contractors who fancy charging for more repairs, but that's what I heard.

I think the right thing is to keep riding (and BBB is a nut - it's reasonable to expect to be able to ride a trad road bike on the road) and keep suing whenever something breaks due to poor road maintenance. I'm waiting for a promised cheque after one council has just settled with me!

That said, I switched to a hybrid after the second lot of broken spokes on my road bike, but I'm still cross about it!

posted by a.jumper [710 posts]
20th December 2012 - 11:22

3 Likes

Gizmo_ wrote:
except that cars going over the splodge while it's setting make a dip in the middle of the hole and a couple of sharp thrown-up blobs either side: lumps are almost as dangerous as holes and they're less visible!

Stealth potholes! I've hit them! It's because the council officer overseeing checks only some repairs and only within a week of repair. They don't check roads in general any more. They just wait for complaints. Also, some council repair contacts cover potholes but not unevenness.

posted by a.jumper [710 posts]
20th December 2012 - 11:26

1 Like

a.jumper wrote:
cidermart wrote:
What happened to the tar spraying that they used to do to prevent the water getting into, and therefore under, the road surface as they seemed to last longer when they did it?? Probably about time to bring it back.

A North Somerset Council officer told a public meeting that a motorcyclist somewhere skidded and crashed on a smooth tar band and successfully sued the council concerned, so now no contractors tar-seal small repairs. I never found out where that happened and I suspect it's an urban legend started by road repair contractors who fancy charging for more repairs, but that's what I heard.

Sounds feasible but I'm sure if they carried a bag of the “Shellgrip” chippings on the van/truck they could give it a sprinkle?? Yeah I know common sense I shall go quietly Sorry chaps Smile

cidermart's picture

posted by cidermart [467 posts]
20th December 2012 - 12:23

2 Likes