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Cycling UK: Potholes on minor roads are costing the economy £2 billion a year

Charity says funding for maintenance of minor roads has plummeted by 40 per cent since 2009/10

Cycling UK says that cuts to maintenance budgets for minor roads mean that potholes on them are now costing the economy £2.04 billion in 2017 in England alone.

The figure is based on analysis by the Transport Research Laboratory, which has said that for every £1 cut from the maintenance budget, there is a wider economic impact of £1.67.

Since 2009/10, Cycling UK says that maintenance spend on minor roads has fallen by 40 per cent, and that in 2016/17, only 51 per cent of the entire road maintenance budget was spent on them - down from 60 per cent in 2009/10 - despite them making up 88 per cent of the entire road network.

The charity, which runs the website Fill That Hole which enables people to easily report potholes to the relevant highways authority, also points out that the average cost of claims from cyclists relating to poorly maintained roads is 13 times higher than that of motorists, in line with the findings of a Freedom of Information request it made last March.

> Cycling UK: Pothole lawsuits costing councils almost £9 million a year

It says spending on local roads has fallen from £2.51 billion in 2009/10 to £1.87 billion in 2016/17 - and stripping out the effect of inflation, less than half is being spent nowadays compared to the money set aside a decade ago.

Cycling UK's policy director, Roger Geffen, presented the findings to the House of Commons Transport Committee and said afterwards: “Good road maintenance is not just about spending money to save money, it’s also about saving lives and limbs. Cycling UK’s findings show that that cuts to maintenance budgets for local roads are a false economy, as this is where they most endanger pedestrians and cyclists.  

“Pay-outs to cyclists for highway damages are typically 13 times higher than those made to drivers, mainly because they are more likely to involve injury rather than just property damage. When you add in the costs of injuries to the NHS and to employers, the case for local road maintenance becomes overwhelming.  

“Yet the Government continues to boost spending on new motorways and trunk roads, while letting our existing local roads rot away. After several hard winters, it’s high time the Government reversed these skewed priorities,” he added. 

Simon joined as news editor in 2009 and is now the site’s community editor, acting as a link between the team producing the content and our readers. A law and languages graduate, published translator and former retail analyst, he has reported on issues as diverse as cycling-related court cases, anti-doping investigations, the latest developments in the bike industry and the sport’s biggest races. Now back in London full-time after 15 years living in Oxford and Cambridge, he loves cycling along the Thames but misses having his former riding buddy, Elodie the miniature schnauzer, in the basket in front of him.

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