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Is there a pothole crisis on Britain's roads?

National Pothole Day sees renewed calls for action after multiple worrying incidents in recent weeks

Following reports on this website of the death of an 84-year-old cyclist and another story on an Oxfordshire pothole branded a "danger to life", a reader got in touch with photos of their own pothole-induced injuries.

The offending road defect in Richmond has since been fixed but left our reader with multiple injuries and seemingly points to a widespread danger on British roads.

Just last week the wife of 84-year-old Harry Colledge, the former president of Cleveleys Road Club and a "much loved" member of the north west of England cycling community, called on the government and local authorities to do more to repair potholes on the UK's "woefully inadequate" roads.

Harry Colledge (credit: Cleveleys Road Club)

Mr Colledge died on Monday 2 January after the front wheel of his Claud Butler bike got stuck in a deep crack in a rural Lancashire road, throwing him off and causing serious injuries.

A police investigation has since been launched and local journalists noted visible damage to the road near the village of Winmarleigh, with lengthy cracks in the surface.

The comments of Valerie Colledge have today been echoed by Mark Morrell, a leading UK pothole campaigner dubbed Mr Pothole, who marked National Pothole Day (January 15) by urging road users to report dangers to the authorities, who Mr Morrell says need to do more to tackle the "dangerous menace".

> National Pothole Day: An interview with Mr Pothole (otherwise known as Mark Morrell)

"I am sick to death of hearing from government and authorities saying repairing potholes is a priority then do very little to tackle the issue of our failing roads network," he explained to Wales Online this weekend. 

"Filling in potholes is a waste of taxpayers' money. Until there is a properly funded roads resurfacing programme put in place things will get worse. Over ten years ago a report stated badly maintained roads were costing the economy £5 billion a year.

"So at today's prices probably double that to £10 billion. If the government invested an extra £3 billion a year every year on resurfacing roads it would save taxpayers money in long run."

Mr Potholes comments came to a backdrop of concern from the RAC's head of roads policy Nicholas Lyes who said the wet weather followed by the coldest start to winter in 12 years in December is "the perfect recipe for potholes to start peppering the roads".

"There are too many occasions where potholes have been poorly patched up by cash-strapped councils which then return all too quickly. It’s frankly absurd that, as a country, we seem unable to get on top of such an age-old problem when roads play such an important role in people's everyday lives," he said.

Last week on we reported on the "atrocious" state of the roads in Oxfordshire which one cyclist said posed a "potential danger to life".

Pothole in Didcot, Oxfordshire (credit - Tim Masters)

Tim Masters shared photos of the holes, saying one is "so deep I can park my bike in it", and it seems the problem is not limited to Oxfordshire.

On Friday, an Edinburgh man placed cones in dangerous hazards on West Coates Road in the Scottish capital, tagging Edinburgh Council in a tweet calling for "urgency" on defects that "could easily kill a cyclist".

"I only saw it at the last second and managed to avoid it but if a less vigilant cyclist or motorcyclist had not seen that, absolutely would have taken them off their bike and cause them serious injury, if not death," he said.

More than 400 miles away in Southampton a cyclist was, in October, left with three broken teeth and a £1,400 dental bill after a pothole sent him flying from his bike.

James Noel suggested the council needed to adopt "a duty of care" to improve the city's "very poor" infrastructure and road surfaces.

In the same month, we reported a coroner is to 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.

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

The news came after it was found that the pothole was reported four times by members of the public in the month leading up to Charles Stringer's death after the pothole punctured his front tyre and he was thrown against an iron railing, suffering a catastrophic chest injury.

Dr Karen Henderson 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.

All in all a fairly depressing picture, but we want to hear from you... (although we're pretty sure we already know the answer). How are the roads where you ride? Do you report dangerous potholes? If so, are they quickly fixed?

Dan joined 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, 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.

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