Support road.cc

Like this site? Help us to make it better.

news

Dangerous pothole that caused fatal cycling crash was reported multiple times without action

The pothole was reported to Surrey County Council four times in the month before Charles Stringer was thrown from his bike, suffering a catastrophic chest injury

A coroner will submit a report raising concerns about Surrey County Council's lack of action in repairing dangerous potholes, one of which caused a fatal cycling crash in June 2020.

Dr Karen Henderson will issue a Prevention of Future Deaths (PFD) report over ongoing concerns first raised at the inquest into Charles Stringer's death. Get Surrey reports the cyclist was killed on Church Lane, in Headley, in June 2020 after the pothole punctured his front tyre and he was thrown against an iron railing, suffering a catastrophic chest injury.

The report will be sent to the chief executive of the council and the authority's lead member for highways, as well as to Kier Integrated Services Limited, the construction firm contracted to carry out inspections and repairs prior to a new contact going to Ringway earlier this year.

> Pothole that caused 75-year-old cyclist to crash not deemed a "critical safety defect" by council

It was found that the pothole was reported four times by members of the public in the month leading up to Mr Stringer's death. It was first inspected on May 26 when no defects were recorded, but was reported by a member of the public a week later on June 3.

When an investigator visited the site the following day they inspected the wrong hole, thinking it was another 100m away that had already been repaired. Days later, on June 6, a different member of the public reported the pothole and a maximum 20-day deadline was set for it to be repaired.

On June 11 a third report was made, but the person was told it had been repaired before finally on June 17 the same member of the public reported it again, saying it had not been repaired.

At this point a five-day deadline was set, ending on June 23 — the day after Mr Stringer's fatal crash.

> "I've never seen anything like it": Cyclists hospitalised by loose gravel crash seek compensation from council

Dr Henderson has asked the parties involved: "What steps have been taken to ensure repairs are completed in a timely fashion after serious injuries and deaths have occurred as a result of a road accident?"

She said there had been a "lack of reflection by Surrey County Council", management of potholes had not improved and asked for better steps to make inspectors aware of complaints, risk assessments and better communication between the contact centre and highways department.

> Cyclist hospitalised after crashing into enormous pothole and 'somersaulting' off her bike

A spokesperson for the council told SurreyLive: "We are reviewing the report and will respond to the coroner in due course."

Council officials and contractors now have 56 days to respond, explaining what changes have been made or arguing why they are not necessary.

Dan joined road.cc in 2020, and spent most of his first year (hopefully) keeping you entertained on the live blog. At the start of 2022 he took on the role of news editor. Before joining road.cc, Dan wrote about various sports, including football and boxing for the Daily Express, and covered the weird and wonderful world of non-league football for The Non-League Paper. Part of the generation inspired by the 2012 Olympics, Dan has been 'enjoying' life on two wheels ever since and spends his weekends making bonk-induced trips to the petrol stations of the south of England.

Add new comment

13 comments

Avatar
IanMSpencer | 1 year ago
4 likes

Just to repost an obsrvation I've made before. I believe local Highways criteria for repair are based on risk of damage to cars. If they used the criteria for risk to cyclists they might have to think again about their criteria.

Just watched the Solihull YouTube video that explains their process. (https://youtu.be/bKh7D8w3r30)

No mention of bikes but mention of pedestrians. They proudly proclaim they have a team of 4 pothole repairers for the borough (and 7 surveyors!) to cope with 1.29 billion miles of vehicle usage in the borough (that's down massively from its peak but I suspect 2022 will be back up there).

Avatar
Calc | 1 year ago
2 likes

In Australia - use the Snap Send Solve app.  Because you can rate the council's response, I find pot holes usually get fixed within the week.

Avatar
Cycloid | 1 year ago
2 likes

It sounds like this Local Highways Authority adopts a similar system to Cheshire East Where I live.
Potholes are outsourced to a third party company, and they claim that a robust system is in place to give residents the best possible outcome for the available budget.  See Below---

Every road in Cheshire East is inspected for defects on a regular schedule, Important roads get looked at twelve times a year, down to twice a year for minor roads and cycleways
Identified defects are given a rating on a five point scale depending on the IMPACT/SEVERITY that could result from an incident, this is then entrered into a matrix which takes into account the PROBABILITY of something happening. Thus a dangerous pothole on a main road could get a 12+ which warrants urgent action, but the same pothole on a country lane could get a rating of 1-4 which means "Put it on the do later list". This explains why the roads we use as cyclists are getting worse.

The Cheshire East Claims page seems quite  proud that they pay out on very few claims. - to paraphrase: "Potholes are a fact of life" - "We have robust procedures in place" - "You have to prove we were negligent" - "By not paying out we are saving taxpayers money"

Avatar
ShutTheFrontDawes | 1 year ago
10 likes

At what point does this become gross negligence on the part of the council and/or corporate manslaughter?
https://www.cps.gov.uk/legal-guidance/corporate-manslaughter

Avatar
eburtthebike | 1 year ago
16 likes

When I report a pothole that poses a significant risk to cyclists, I not only report it online, I ring the council and make it very clear that there is a risk of death and it needs immediate action.  It's worked so far, with them being fixed within a day.

Avatar
gareth@attrill.uk replied to eburtthebike | 1 year ago
11 likes

Another thing is being able to submit photos of the pothole that the staff on scene have access to so that they can be sure they are looking at the right defect. When I reported a very serious one to Hants I could upload a photo, and it was temporarily filled within a few days, and permanently repaired a month or two later.

Avatar
Dnnnnnn replied to gareth@attrill.uk | 1 year ago
7 likes

Photos are good, for the reasons you mention but also so you remember to report them when you get home! (assuming you don't stop and do it on the spot).

Avatar
Clem Fandango replied to Dnnnnnn | 1 year ago
6 likes

Ah sh*t.  Indeed & I know for a fact that I didn't report that one a couple of days beforehand, probably for that very reason.

I ride through the spot where that happened multiple times every week (as do hundreds of others on the way back from Box Hill) -  it's not the spot in the photo above BTW.  Just checked my Strava history & I was riding through there just after the incident happened (comment in my notes about the number of emergency vehicles on scene etc).  The road surface wasn't ideal in to the bend/junction in question for ages (loose gravel, rough surface, cracks etc) & you were effectively forced to ride pretty much in "the middle of the road" (not the middle of the carriageway) to negotiate it safely.  It's a fairly fast downhill, the road also narrows, visibility isn't great & oncoming traffic is generally positioned fairly centrally (subconscious desire to avoid the brick wall that's immediately on their left). Amazed that more incidents hadn't happened - always had to take care through there.

Poor b*gger.  V annoyed at myself for not having complained more vigorously about the state of that bit of road now.  I had contacted SCC about it previously (and the old "trench" that ran across the road at the junction with Clay Lane a bit further down (now finally fixed)), but as I'd never had more than the odd squeaky bum moment with a car coming the other way I didn't push it & I didn't report anything that week (had been through 3 times).  Note to self -  make more of an effort even if you got through cleanly - it's never just "complaining".

Avatar
Secret_squirrel replied to gareth@attrill.uk | 1 year ago
2 likes

The Surrey site allows photo uploads.  No idea if it was used in this case or not.

Also unclear if Surrey CC act on logs from mobile apps like fixmystreet

Avatar
JohnP_SM7 replied to Secret_squirrel | 1 year ago
4 likes

I reported a pothole in Woodmansterne in July 2021 via FixMyStreet. I got an automated response from Surrey CC within a minute of submitting the report - this was about 10pm on a Friday evening. There was then a further automated (?) response 10 minutes later confirming that the details had been logged. 

I got a 'real' reply on the Monday lunchtime confirming that they'd visited the site, the issue had been previously reported and repairs would be made within 7 days.  I passed the site a few days later and the repairs had been completed.

The initial automated response included a request; "In future, please report defects and log enquiries directly though our website at www.surreycc.gov.uk/roads-and-transport/roadworks-and-maintenance/report...

Avatar
Cycloid replied to eburtthebike | 1 year ago
6 likes

You have pressed the right button.
Money Talks

The average compensation Local Highways Authority payout per motorist was around £340, councils paid on average £8,800 per cyclist for incidents involving potholes.

https://www.cyclinguk.org/press-release/potholes-true-cost-cyclists

 

 

Avatar
jaymack replied to eburtthebike | 1 year ago
4 likes

Not forgetting of course to get the name of the person to whom you spoke and following that up with a confirmatory email. If they won't give me their name I politely ask to speak to their manager and up and up the chain if command 'till I get one. It works wonders...

Avatar
eburtthebike replied to jaymack | 1 year ago
1 like
jaymack wrote:

Not forgetting of course to get the name of the person to whom you spoke and following that up with a confirmatory email. If they won't give me their name I politely ask to speak to their manager and up and up the chain if command 'till I get one. It works wonders...

THIS.heart

Latest Comments