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.
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.