Today the Department for Transport (DfT) announced how it will split a £50m annual pothole fund between more than 100 councils in England to repair 943,000 potholes from local roads over the next 12 months.
Campaigners from Cycling UK (formerly CTC, the national cycling charity), are concerned about the impact of potholes, particularly on cyclists, who are almost three times more likely to crash as a result of poor road surfaces.
They say the fund, which was originally announced in the 2014 Autumn Statement, is 240 times too small to adequately tackle the “lethal” dangers of poor road surfaces, however and say the government is “using a sticking plaster to mend a broken leg”.
At the announcement today Transport Secretary, Patrick McLoughlin, said: “I know how important well-maintained roads are to people across the country. Almost every journey starts and ends on a local road, so the government is giving councils £250 million specifically to tackle the blight of potholes in their area.
“This is just one part of our unprecedented investment in local road maintenance over the next 5 years. We are giving a record £6 billion to local authorities in England that will improve journeys across the regions.”
However, Cycling UK’s Campaigns Coordinator, Sam Jones, says this is a fraction of what is needed to remove the danger of poorly-maintained roads on vulnerable road users.
He says: “The Asphalt Industry Alliance estimates we need £12billion to fix England and Wales’ roads: 240 times more than the £50million a year made available in the Government’s Pothole Action Fund. It’s the equivalent of using a sticking plaster to fix a broken leg.
“Potholes can be a lethal danger to cyclists and other vulnerable road users. In 2014, the police decided that a ‘poor or defective’ road surface contributed to almost three times more crashes involving pedal cyclists than it did in those involving cars.”
Jones points out 30 cyclists were killed or seriously injured in 2012 because of poorly maintained roads in England, Scotland and Wales, a figure that rose to 53 in 2014.
Cycling UK estimates there is an average of one defect for every 110m of road in the UK and that, with more than 245,000 miles of road, and a cost of £56 to repair each pothole, the £250m Pothole Action Fund is not enough.
Jones adds: “It’s a typical smoke-and-mirrors exercise anyway, as this funding is coming out of the £6billion announced by the Coalition Government in December 2014 to tackle potholes on local authority roads.”
Cycling UK believes ongoing road maintenance is a more effective solution to the problem, which would the underlying causes of repeat potholes.