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Councillor slams “dreadful, dangerous” potholes, as decision to host Tour of Britain stage on nearby roads branded “ironic”

“It’s ironic that some other roads not being used by the bikes are in a dreadful state. Cyclists would be seriously at risk if they used them,” said the councillor from Gloucestershire, which is set to host stage seven of this year’s race

After the build-up to this year’s UCI Cycling World Championships in Scotland was peppered with complaints from local cyclists and motorists about the state of the roads earmarked for the event, as well as the so-called “selective repairs” carried out on Glasgow’s many potholes, it’s now the turn of the Tour of Britain to provide the focal point for concerns regarding the atrocious condition of the UK’s roads.

With the Tour of Britain set to return to Gloucestershire this year, after last year’s stage in the county was cancelled following the death of Queen Elizabeth II, local Cotswolds councillors and residents have lashed out at the decision to host an international bike race when so many of the roads used by everyday cyclists in the area are in such a “dreadful” state.

Stage seven of this year’s Tour of Britain, a 171km looping route taking the riders from the medieval market town of Tewkesbury to Gloucester, will mark the first time that Gloucestershire has hosted an entire stage of the race, just over a year after the Women’s Tour also visited for the first time.

The stage, which will take place on Saturday 9 September, will cover the rolling hills of the Cotswolds before a couple of nasty, steep climbs in the final 30 kilometres could potentially decide the day’s winner and serve up some exhilarating racing.

Cees Bol beats Jake Stewart on stage two of the 2022 Tour of Britain to Duns (Will Palmer/SWpix.com)

Cees Bol beats Jake Stewart on stage two of last year’s Tour of Britain (Will Palmer/SWpix.com)

However, Gloucestershire Live reports that despite the opportunity to witness some world-class sporting spectacle on Gloucestershire’s roads, with former Tour of Britain winner Wout van Aert pencilled in for another crack at Britain’s biggest stage race, local Liberal Democrat councillor Paul Hodgkinson pointed out this week that the dangerous state of the pothole-laden roads near where the stage is taking place continue to be neglected by the local authority.

“With the Tour of Britain coming through the Cotswolds soon, it’s ironic that some other roads not being used by the bikes are in a dreadful state,” the county councillor said.

“Cyclists would be seriously at risk if they used them. Roads like the Whiteway between North Cerney and Chedworth are appalling and have been so for ages.

“Despite a commitment to sort some of these roads out, these highways are an embarrassment to us all when tourists experiencing the beauty of the Cotswolds must wonder what on earth has gone wrong locally.”

> Is there a pothole crisis on Britain's roads?

Hodgkinson’s comments were echoed by a resident from Chedworth, located within touching distance of stage seven’s route, who earlier this week persuaded the parish council to write to Conservative county council leader Mark Hawthorne to call for the roads to be urgently repaired.

“We pay over £30 billion in car tax and fuel duty and nothing like that is ringfenced for the maintenance of the roads,” Colin Peirce told the parish council. “In Chedworth we have some appalling road conditions which have been allowed to get worse.

“The parish council has to stand up for us and insist that these roads are resurfaced, that they need total repair. We’ve got cyclists and pedestrians injuring themselves and damage to cars.

“I call it road rage. It’s a form of road rage and unless people realise how bad the situation is it’s only going to get worse. We are supposed to be an area of outstanding natural beauty and tourists who come here must think it’s a third-world country.”

Tour of Britain organisers SweetSpot have been contacted by road.cc for comment.

> Anger as "dangerous" potholes repaired on World Championships route while other roads nearby remain "abysmal"

This isn’t the first time that Gloucestershire’s roads have come under scrutiny due to the arrival of the Tour of Britain.

Back in 2014, as Bradley Wiggins and Mark Cavendish prepared to take on the week-long stage race on home roads, Gloucestershire Highways launched a last-minute plan to repair 35 roads along the route of stage four, despite the surfaces gaining prior approval by race organisers and being deemed to be maintained to the national safety standard.

2023 World Championships Glasgow road race potholes (Liam McReanan)

And, of course, nine years later the seemingly deteriorating condition of the UK’s roads was a common theme in the run-up to this month’s inaugural UCI Cycling World Championships in Glasgow.

In February we reported that a local cyclist had raised the alarm over a series of “dangerous” potholes along the road race routes, while in June the “crude” last-minute “patch-up” of the potholes on the route attracted even more criticism, after a representative from Tadej Pogačar’s Slovenian team reportedly branded the Scottish roads as the “worst they’d ever seen”.

And at the end of July, just days before the championships commenced, politicians, pothole campaigners, a taxi federation chairman, as well as numerous locals in Glasgow hit out at the city council over the last-minute repair work that was carried out on roads that formed part of the road race circuit – which they say were made purely to accommodate the racing while others nearby in the city remain “appalling” and “dangerous”.

Ryan joined road.cc in December 2021 and since then has kept the site’s readers and listeners informed and enthralled (well at least occasionally) on news, the live blog, and the road.cc Podcast. After boarding a wrong bus at the world championships and ruining a good pair of jeans at the cyclocross, he now serves as road.cc’s senior news writer. Before his foray into cycling journalism, he wallowed in the equally pitiless world of academia, where he wrote a book about Victorian politics and droned on about cycling and bikes to classes of bored students (while taking every chance he could get to talk about cycling in print or on the radio). He can be found riding his bike very slowly around the narrow, scenic country lanes of Co. Down.

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6 comments

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thrawed | 11 months ago
1 like

Since councils seem to no longer be able to afford to repair the roads from general taxation we should bring back road tax, the amount you pay directly related to how the weight of your vehicle contributes to road damage. Of course since it would cost more in administration costs to collect the fractions of a penny cyclists would owe it would still be free for them. While heavy tractors and lorries should pay tens of thousands to repair the damage they disproportionately cause. It might even have the beneficial side effect of discouraging everyone from driving around in giant 4x4's that are too big to stay on their side of the road just to bring the kids to school.

Avatar
Kapelmuur | 11 months ago
2 likes

I recently rode the first 20 miles of stage 1 from Altrincham and fear for the safety of the riders.

Avatar
Rik Mayals unde... | 11 months ago
4 likes

The state of the roads is a national disgrace. The main road I live on has been surface dressed more times than I care to mention. I have lived in the area all my life, 57 years so far, born a mere 400 yards away, and in my memory it has never been resurfaced properly. It was last surface dressed last summer, they scratched the top surface off, poured tar down and covered it in stones, then sprayed tar on it after. Within weeks it had begun to fail, there are now waves and lumps all over it from many layers of tar and stones being pushed aside as the trucks and buses travel along it. It is dangerous to cyclists in the dark now. Thankfully I know where all the big lumps are, but an unsuspecting cyclist riding in the dark would hit one and likely lose control.

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Stephankernow replied to Rik Mayals underpants | 11 months ago
0 likes
Biker Phil wrote:

The state of the roads is a national disgrace. The main road I live on has been surface dressed more times than I care to mention. I have lived in the area all my life, 57 years so far, born a mere 400 yards away, and in my memory it has never been resurfaced properly. It was last surface dressed last summer, they scratched the top surface off, poured tar down and covered it in stones, then sprayed tar on it after. Within weeks it had begun to fail, there are now waves and lumps all over it from many layers of tar and stones being pushed aside as the trucks and buses travel along it. It is dangerous to cyclists in the dark now. Thankfully I know where all the big lumps are, but an unsuspecting cyclist riding in the dark would hit one and likely lose control.

The reason roads especially in Gloucestershire are so bad is down to the "quality" of repairs or rather the lsck of it. If you pay peanuts you get monkeys. Its how the roads are "repaired" that is the problem.
One of brother in laws has designed a lorry which blows out any water on the pot hole, It then fires down hard core snd tamps it down and finally pours down tarmac and tamps it down firmly.
Hes been using 2 up country for 10 years now.
The thing is a lot of councils want the cheap option as none of the councillors tend to be civil engineers or road repairers. Buy cheap, Buy time and time again!

Avatar
chrisonabike replied to Stephankernow | 11 months ago
2 likes

Is there also an issue with builders and utilities often using a chain of sub- contractors so there's diffusion of responsibility? Plus the councils just don't check stuff on a timely basis or if they do don't chase people to fix stuff (because extra expense)?

Avatar
Cugel replied to Stephankernow | 11 months ago
0 likes

Stephankernow wrote:
Biker Phil wrote:

The state of the roads is a national disgrace. The main road I live on has been surface dressed more times than I care to mention. It was last surface dressed last summer, they scratched the top surface off, poured tar down and covered it in stones, then sprayed tar on it after. Within weeks it had begun to fail, there are now waves and lumps all over it from many layers of tar and stones being pushed aside as the trucks and buses travel along it.

The reason roads especially in Gloucestershire are so bad is down to the "quality" of repairs or rather the lsck of it. If you pay peanuts you get monkeys. Its how the roads are "repaired" that is the problem. Buy cheap, Buy time and time again!

I lived and cycled in NW England, near Biker Phil, for 50 years. What he describes is accurate - the roads are in a very poor condition and any fixes applied between long intervals of neglect are worthless, substandard and a waste of time and (taxpayer) money. 

As you suggest, the quality of road fix is a big part of the problem and seems to be due to council preference, in some parts, for paying private cowboys to do the job for the cheapest price. In other cases, one feels sure, there will be bungs involved in the time-dishonoured fashion, from incompetant road fixing pretenders to corrupt commissioners of the "work".

However, in some parts of the nation an olde fashioned mode still seems to operate in the council, which involves public service via value for money. In West Wales (southern half of Cerdigion and western half of Carmarthenshire) where I recently moved to, the roads are generally excellent. Pot holes are very few and never of the cyclist-eating kind. whole road surface renewals and winter-damage crumbles are fixed quickly and very competantly.

I keep meaning to examine the details but .... from looking at the workers doing fixes (mostly older blokes with a few younger apprentice types) and the way they conduct themselves, I get the feeling that they're long-term employees with a full set of road mending skills, employed and paid to apply those skills rather than make some cowboy mate of a spiv councillor loadsa profit.

 

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