With the numbers of cyclists killed or seriously injured due to badly maintained roads ‘mushrooming’ out of control, there have been urgent calls for the government to fix Britain’s roads.
KSI statistics from badly maintained roads
In 2007 there were two fatalities and 15 serious injuries on the UK’s roads due to potholes and other maintenance issues.
This figure grew to four dead and 60 serious injuries across the UK in 2016. Where hitting a pothole in your car can make you wince and wonder whether your suspension will need fixing, a cyclist will go over their handlebars and if they survive may need a lifetime’s treatment for their injuries.
Pre Beast from the East repairs
Before the recent spells of freezing temperatures and snow, the BBC Shared Data Unit estimated that nationwide, 24,400 miles (39,300km) of roads needed urgent repair across the UK. That’s more than 10% of the road network.
In an interview with the BBC, Simon Williams, a spokesman for the RAC, said: “Before the cold snap the condition of many local roads was on a knife edge with many councils struggling to fix our roads properly. But now, as a result of the ‘Beast from the East’ some local roads will have deteriorated even further, possibly to the point that they represent a serious risk to the safety of users.”
One of the ways that potholes form is by ‘freeze thaw action’ where water gets into cracks in the road surface and expands when temperatures plummet. This breaks up the road surface. Add in the pounding from the traffic and you rapidly see a hole forming that can be fatal for a cyclist caught unaware.
Austerity Measures hitting the UK’s roads
Under the current spell of ‘Austerity’ local councils can’t afford to fix the roads. The government has said that it is giving local authorities £296 million for repairing roads this year but Cycling UK told the BBC that this is less than half what is needed.
Catherine West, Labour MP for Hornsey and Wood Green suggested that the £42bn High Speed 2 (HS2) railway project should be raided to help fix the roads. She told the BBC, “Getting just 1% in savings from HS2, which has quite a big budget, would make a difference.”
The government must look seriously at the issue of public spending cuts to our infrastructure. Funding is essential to maintaining our infrastructure, and ultimately helps to reduce serious cycling injuries.