The number of potholes on Britain’s roads continues to rise according to research collated to mark Cycling UK’s inaugural Pothole Watch Week, with the number reported in some London boroughs having risen by up to 172 per cent in a year.
According to JMW Solicitors, the London boroughs with the largest percentage increase in reported potholes from 2017 to 2018 were Redbridge (+172%), Islington (+151%), Harrow (+116%), and the combined borough of Richmond and Wandsworth (+100%).
The worst affected boroughs were Lewisham (4,698), Croydon (3,791) and Enfield (3,771), while Chelsea and Kensington received just 35 pothole complaints.
Greater Manchester has also seen a six per cent increase in reported potholes. The worst affected area was the city centre, which saw a 90 per cent increase, rising from 931 to 1,771. Other badly affected boroughs are Bury (681), Stockport (643) and Trafford (683).
Research from Cycling UK published earlier this week shows that pothole claims from cyclists cost councils 25 times more to settle in terms of compensation and legal costs than those from motorists.
This is because while motorists are likely to be claiming for damage to vehicles, cyclists are far more likely to seek be seeking compensation for injury.
The charity said that on average, claims from cyclists cost £88,000 to settle, with £45m in total paid out during the past five years.
Paul Breen Head of Catastrophic Injury at JMW Solicitors said: “Potholes frequently cause serious, life-changing injuries to cyclists and motorcyclists – yet despite concerted efforts by the government and health agencies to coax people out of their cars, it appears there’s very little investment to back up the rhetoric.”
While the Department for Transport this week announced proposals for firms that dig up the roads to have to guarantee they remained pothole-free for five years, Steve Gooding, director of the RAC Foundation pointed out to the BBC that, a five-year guarantee would cause utility companies to sit up and take notice, “only if they believe local highway authorities will have the resource to monitor the state of repairs up to five years after they have been done."
In October's Budget, Chancellor Philip Hammond promised an extra £420m for councils in England to deal with "potholes, repair damaged roads, and invest in keeping bridges open and safe".
However, trade association the Asphalt Industry Alliance has estimated that it would cost £9.3bn to repair all of the existing potholes on British roads.
Breen said that the state of the roads is putting lives at risk.
“Councils should be conducting regular checks to identify potential hazards and ensure any defects are repaired within a reasonable amount of time. If the council fail in their duty to maintain and repair roads and pavements, and someone suffers an injury due to a pothole or other road defect, they are entitled to make a claim for compensation.”
Cycling UK points out that if highway authorities can argue they didn't know about a defect, a cyclist may struggle to win a claim for compensation. They therefore recommend that road users report defects to the relevant authorities via their Fill That Hole app and website.
Yesterday the charity reported that 544 reports had been filed since last Sunday – one every 15 minutes.