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'Britain’s pothole crisis costs lives' says Cycling UK

23 November 2023
Sarah Mitchell: Seven years ago, Cycling UK called on the UK Roads Leadership Group to update guidance for traffic engineers. Unfortunately our warnings went unheeded
Sarah Mitchell: Seven years ago, Cycling UK called on the UK Roads Leadership Group to update guidance for traffic engineers. Unfortunately our warnings went unheeded

 

More must be done to ensure that Government funding to repair and maintain roads does not ignore the danger posed to cyclists by potholes, says the Cycling UK. 

The charity says that 255 people cycling have been killed or seriously injured due to road defects since 2017.

Cycling UK welcomed the Government's recent announcement of £8.3bn fund to repair England’s roads but called for the guidance for highway engineers to be updated to reduce the risk of death and serious injury for cyclists.

The UK Roads Leadership Group, which is responsible for creating the guidance given for road traffic engineers across the UK, should make sure its guidance no longer ignores road defects that impact people cycling, says the charity.

Cycling UK adds that the guidance was last updated in 2016, with the group ignoring its evidence calling for these changes. The charity says many of the deaths and serious injuries since then could have been avoided if the group had listened.

Cycling UK argues the current procedures for inspecting roads and paths, and then deciding which repairs are necessary, overlook the safety needs for people cycling. This means cracks and other defects which specially affect the narrower tyres of bicycles are not always considered suitable for fixing, despite their increased risk of causing death or serious injury.

Cycling UK highlighted the case of 84-year-old Harry Colledge who died after his bike hit a pothole in Winmarleigh, Lancashire in January. The crack in the road had been visible on Google Street View for 14 years and was known to Lancashire County Council, claims the charity.

The cyclist's widow, Val Colledge, said: “We all accept that there is an element of risk in most aspects of life, but the odds have been stacked against people who cycle for too long. More and more people are being encouraged to cycle and it is promoted as being a healthy, environmentally friendly form of transport and leisure activity.

“However, the state of our roads is unacceptable and especially the country lanes preferred by cyclists.”

Sarah Mitchell, Cycling UK’s chief executive, said: “Britain’s pothole crisis costs lives. Let’s put right past mistakes and make sure no family ever has to receive a phone call to say that the failure to fill a pothole has ended a loved one’s life.

“We applaud the Government for providing long-term funding for councils in England to fix our crumbling roads but are urging ministers to ensure that that money is well spent. It’s not expensive or difficult to update the guidance for our traffic engineers to save lives and prevent tragedies like that which Val and her family have had to go through.

“Seven years ago, Cycling UK called on the UK Roads Leadership Group to update guidance for traffic engineers. Unfortunately our warnings went unheeded and since then nearly one person a week has been killed or seriously injured because they chose to ride a bike on Britain’s roads.”

 

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