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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 has been news editor at since 2009, reporting on 10 editions and counting of pro cycling’s biggest races such as the Tour de France, stories on issues including infrastructure and campaigning, and interviewing some of the biggest names in cycling. A law and languages graduate, published translator and former retail analyst, his background has proved invaluable in reporting on issues as diverse as cycling-related court cases, anti-doping investigations, and the bike industry. He splits his time between London and Cambridge, and loves taking his miniature schnauzer Elodie on adventures in the basket of her Elephant Bike.

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