The Times has reported that the refusal of councils to bother filling shallow potholes is a threat to the safety of cyclists.
According to an FOI response earlier this year from Hammersmith and Fulham Council:
“The Council works to an investigatory level of 40mm in the carriageway in line with the Well Maintained Highways – a code of good practice and the Council’s Highway Maintenance Management Plan.”
Yet the report in The Times says:
“Lawyers acting on behalf of accident victims said that many councils only fixed potholes that were deeper than 4cm, despite the risk of accidents in shallower cracks.”
More than 100 cyclists died on Britain’s roads last year. A further 3,397 were seriously injured, a 5 per cent increase from the previous year. Department for Transport figures show that 467 cyclists over five years were involved in accidents in which “poor or defective” roads were a factor.
While Transport for London proposes spending £70 million of our money on a grand scheme for a Cycle Superhighway – which many ordinary cyclists don’t want – the basic priorities are ignored.
The general point seems to be that the depth of an inch or two might not matter too much for motorists but can be a serious risk for cyclists.
I have raised my concerns with the Council about this. The General Maintenance Team Manager has responded:
“The Council currently operates under the existing ‘Well Maintained Highways – a code of good practice’ which was drafted by the Roads Liaison Group and was recommended by the Department for Transport. This document was replaced in October 2016 with a new document – ‘Code of Practice for Well-Managed Highways Infrastructure’. Each Council has until October 2018 to make the necessary changes to existing polices to align with the new code.
“The Council is currently undergoing a series of workshops to review existing topics such as intervention / investigatory levels as the new Code of Practice document encourages Councils to assess risk in a wider context than the previous document did. Once these workshops have been completed, a new Highway Maintenance Management Plan will be drafted in line with the new CoP – this document will cover topics such as intervention levels, frequency of inspections and repair timescales.
“In the meantime, should you have any particular areas of concern where you feel that a defect poses a risk to a cyclist, please let me know and I will arrange for a Highway Inspector to carry out a thorough investigation.”
The website Fill That Hole says cyclists have reported 363 hazards to the Council via that website but that only 45 have been fixed. That performance puts the Council well down the league table.
I have asked for an explanation.