A cyclist who complained to Oxfordshire County Council about potholes and overgrown vegetation on a cycle path was told to fix the problems himself – with a councillor even offering to pay for the materials to enable him to carry out the work.
Chris Waites, aged 30, told the Oxford Mail that the 1 kilometre stretch of path – described by the council as a “premium route” and forming part of National Cycle Network Route 5 – was more or less “one giant pothole.”
The section of the route in question runs from his home in Long Wittenham and Didcot and links the town – a key transport hub for commuters due to its rail service – to the Culham Science Park.
He said that in places, it is difficult to ride a bike down the path because it is so overgrown, and that he has noticed a drop in the number of commuters using it.
When he raised the issue with the council, he was told the path was not scheduled to be repaired until 2026, and he said that aa councillor had offered to pay £10,000 for gravel so he could carry out the works himself.
"I was told it is not anyone’s job to apply for the grants needed to fix it but if I wanted to do it myself they would pay for the materials.
“The gravel would be dropped off and I could get to work. But it’s not as if it’s the sort of job you can do with a few mates at the weekend.
"I'd imagine you would need a dumper truck and steam roller at least.
"I know they are pushing the big society these days but it's not just a matter of rolling up your sleeves and getting on with it, this is a serious job."
Mr Waites, who works at the Churchill Hospital in Oxford, continued: “The planned resurfacing is still eight years away.
“It is meant to be one of the six priority cycle routes in the whole county, if they are not going to maintain this one, what hope is there for the rest?
“We know there is a finite amount of money and the roads are in need of investment but it wouldn't require much.
“If you were to cycle this way once, you would never do it again.
“It’s too overgrown for my daughter to use it regularly now which is really sad," he added.
Oxfordshire County Council spokesman Martin Crabtree told the Oxford Mail that workers had cut the grass and that the council would address the pothole issue as and when they needed repairing.
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.