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“Cyclists deserve far greater priority”: Former council leader calls on local authority to fix broken roads after pothole crash put him in hospital

The former Labour leader and cyclist spent four nights in hospital after his crash and noted that the pothole had been known to the council for months

Cambridge City Council's former leader has quizzed the current council about how long will it take to tackle the city's broken roads and called for greater priority to be allocated to cyclists when making decisions, after he himself hit a pothole while cycling and had to spend four nights in a hospital with broken bones.

Lewis Herbert of the Labour Party stepped down from his position in March this year, and is now the longest-serving leader of the the city council.

At a meeting of the Cambridgeshire County Council earlier this week, he said that he had suffered multiple fractures and a broken collarbone from hitting a pothole while cycling. He added that the pothole he hit had been reported to the county council months before he hit it, reports Cambridgeshire Live.

> New £24 million road upgrade to be altered over fears cyclists might hit pedestrians on "too narrow and dangerous" footpath

Herbert said cyclists in Cambridge "deserve far greater priority" when decisions are made about fixing roads. He said: "Can the council advise how effectively and quickly it will tackle broken roads and properly fill potholes in Cambridge and market towns heavily used by local cyclists, motorbikes, and vulnerable pedestrians, and improve the safety of local people, and reduce the number of accidents caused by damaged roads last winter."

Councillor Alex Beckett, chair of the highways and transport committee, said that he was sorry to hear about Mr Herbert’s accident, and said he knew how serious the effect potholes can have on people cycling.

He said: "One of the things we are looking at doing is building an active travel hierarchy, which looks at how we can make sure we are deploying resources to fix potholes where they have the biggest safety impact, and recognising that cycle desire lines can often have a very different impact compared to road users.

"That is work that is ongoing and we look forward to that coming forwards. This council is also putting together one of the biggest investments in highway maintenance that we have seen for a very long time.

"We have recognised that there has been decades of underinvestment in highways maintenance and that has seen a lot of the poor standards that we currently have on our roads.

"It is clear to me that we do need a significant amount of investment in that, so I look forward to that and seeing what a difference we can make to our residents to help improve the state of their roads across the county."

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Herbert, 67, was also involved in the Greater Cambridge Partnership (GCP), an initiative to plan and implement better infrastructure and served as its leader from its inception in 2014 until 2021.

In August this year, the GCP had announced proposals for a transformational change to the city’s transport network to be developed over the next six years, called 'Sustainable Travel Zone', or STZ — quite similar to the Ultra Low Emission Zones (ULEZ) in London which have become a heated topic of discussion, with London Mayor Sadiq Khan even claiming that the anti-ULEZ protests had been infilitrated by Nazis and other far-right groups.

However, after concerns against the plan were raised by the Lib Dems, the Labour group on the council voted to withdraw support for the proposals, saying that it was worried about the "impact on low income families".

> "Inaction is a political choice": Withdrawal of support for cycling policies by Labour and Lib Dems, described as a "rug pull", leaves campaigners dismayed

Cycling groups in Cambridge, particularly CamCycle, came down strongly upon the council after this decision and called it a "rug pull". It said: "Inaction is a political choice that will have a detrimental impact on our transport network. It will not address the urgent issues of our growing region including health, pollution, road safety and carbon emissions.

"Cycling has always been, and will continue to be, part of the solution. Camcycle will never stop campaigning for the things that enable more, better and safer cycling, which will in turn deliver benefits for everyone, even those who do not ride themselves.

Adwitiya joined in 2023 as a news writer after graduating with a masters in journalism from Cardiff University. His dissertation focused on active travel, which soon threw him into the deep end of covering everything related to the two-wheeled tool, and now cycling is as big a part of his life as guitars and football. He has previously covered local and national politics for Voice Wales, and also likes to writes about science, tech and the environment, if he can find the time. Living right next to the Taff trail in the Welsh capital, you can find him trying to tackle the brutal climbs in the valleys.

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HoarseMann | 4 months ago
1 like

Some councils are doing better. Bedfordshire fixed a pothole I reported within two days. I was quite impressed.

Milton Keynes council have been out sweeping the cycle paths, note the semi-circular brush marks in the photo below. I just wish they would schedule the sweeping with the hedge cutting. This particular path was out of action for a couple of weeks due to being totally covered in hawthorn clippings.

eburtthebike | 4 months ago

However, after concerns against the plan were raised by the Lib Dems, the Labour group on the council voted to withdraw support for the proposals, saying that it was worried about the "impact on low income families".

The ones who can't afford a car and have to use public transport and walk and cycle?  Those low income families?  The only surprise of this weasily, two-faced labour u-turn statement is that they omitted "hard-working".

brooksby replied to eburtthebike | 4 months ago

They say "low income families " but they mean "hardworking motorists "

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