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Holy Pothole Day, Cyclists!

As if cyclists don’t have enough to contend with, thanks to dodgy infrastructure, poor driving, and government ministers opening car doors in their path, the nation’s roads continue to be littered with potholes waiting to entrap those on two wheels. Local highway authorities seem ever more reluctant to keep our roads and indeed pavements in a decent state of repair, as they are obliged to.

Today is apparently National Pothole Day, a nationwide event to raise awareness of the dangers and problems that can be caused by these highway menaces. These problems are particularly acute for cyclists. For example it is near enough impossible to judge whether a pothole is half an inch or several inches deep if it is also filled to the brim with rainwater. Cyclists have to make split second decisions of whether to risk riding through the pothole or veering around it, potentially placing themselves in harm’s way. It is also easy for the wheel of a bike to become lodged in a pothole, resulting in the unlucky rider being launched from their bike. Many a front wheel has undoubtedly ended up bent, buckled and dare we say twisted (!) due to this.

As I alluded to in my opening paragraph, local highway authorities are obliged by law to maintain the roads and pavements under the Highways Act 1980, which states “The highway authority for a highway maintainable at the public expense are under a duty to maintain the highway.” Simple enough you would think. However all highway authorities are subject to budgetary constraints and cannot repair each and every pothole as soon as it rears its head. In practise, most claim to operate a periodic system of inspection, designed to identify which defects are in most need of repair. But the reality is that these systems are not always adhered to, and the results can be disastrous for cyclists, as my colleagues and I see on a regular basis. 

There are websites such as www.fillthathole.org.uk and https://www.fixmystreet.com/ that allow people to report problems with the highway and to track the progress of any such reports. I would encourage you to report any defects that you consider dangerous, whether or not you have yourself suffered a misfortune as a result of a pothole. If a local authority have been told about a potential hazard then they should investigate and if necessary carry out repairs as soon as they practically can.

Hopefully you won’t have had to experience the pain of coming a cropper thanks to a pothole that a local authority has failed to maintain.  But if you are in the position of having been injured as a result of a rogue pothole, you can make a claim for your injuries with us.  You can even include any damage caused to your bike as part of your claim, which will help you to get back on the road more quickly.  You can email me; alistair.ward@jmw.co.uk or call us on 0800 054 6570, where we’ll be happy to have a chat with you.   

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