One of the pet gripes of the Going Going Bike team when cycling around London is the number of potholes littered around the road network.
In some cases, I find myself swerving this way and that to avoid the damn things, while in other cases I just miss them all together and cycle through them when I am too busy concentrating on the road ahead. Apart from the juddering pain that rises up from the legs upwards, potholes can cause the odd tyre puncture or as has been happening to me my chain coming off. In some case, serious damage to a bike can occur.
National cycling organisation, the Cyclists Touring Club (CTC), has been at the forefront of highlighting the problem. Its research found that just under a third of potholes have been properly repaired leaving on average one pothole for every 110 metres of road in the UK.
There is a public duty on local councils to ensure roads are correctly maintained, but the CTC has found discrepancies in terms of fixing potholes. The best local authority according to the CTC for fixing potholes was Cumbria followed by Cheshire West and Cheshire, then West Lothian, Newcastle, Norwich and Bolton, all of which have repaired 95% or more in their regions.
The worst authorities were Dumfries and Galloway, Bedfordshire, West Dunbartonshire, Central Bedfordshire, Havering and Barnsley, which have repaired less than 10% of potholes reported.
The CTC have been proactive in alerting local authorities to pothole problems. In 2007, it set up the www.fillthathole.org.uk website. The site allows users to pinpoint and report potholes and hazards on the roads using an interactive map. The site then passes the information on to the relevant local highway authority.
Figures gleaned from the Fill That Hole website for the period of Jan to Aug 2009 vs. 2010, show an increase of 133% in the number of potholes reported to the website against just 18% that have been fixed to date.
A further innovative move in reporting potholes was made by the CTC in early October of this year when it launched a “Fill That Hole” iPhone app in association with construction materials company Aggregate Industries. The app combines a photograph of a pothole with GPS technology to pinpoint the exact location of the hazard. Once a report is logged, the relevant local authority is informed so they can quickly inspect and fix it. Information is sent instantly.
CTC said it wanted give power to the millions of cycle users who continue to damage their bikes and suffer injury as a result of potholes.
The Fill That Hole app is available to download from the Apple App store. It can be found by searching for ‘Fill That Hole’ within the apps section of iTunes. Aggregate Industries and CTC are also looking at the possibility of developing an additional app to run on Android equipped smartphones.
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