This is a very telling article that was published on The Times website today. The number of injuries and deaths rises by 1%, but something that could be very easily done to help reduce that figure isn’t being done.
Increasing numbers of cyclists are being injured on crumbling roads amid claims that councils are taking too long to mend potholes.
Official figures show that more than 3,400 cyclists were seriously injured or killed in the past 12 months, up by 1 per cent on the previous year and by a third since the mid-2000s. Accident rates among other road users have declined.
Experts said that the trend was being driven by an increase in traffic, rising numbers of cyclists and a decline in the state of road surfaces.
A cycling group criticised some local authorities for failing to fix potholes despite being alerted to the problem. In some areas, only 3 per cent of damaged roads reported by CTC, the national cycling charity, were apparently repaired. Figures suggest 17 councils fixed only 1 in 10 problem roads while the majority, some 168, repaired less than half. The worst offenders were rural councils.
The charity stressed that its figures depended on councils or cyclists reporting that individual holes had been filled.
Patrick McLoughlin, the transport secretary, admitted last month that potholes were a “substantial nuisance and menace” but said that councils were being given £6 billion to maintain roads over the next six years.
The Local Government Association insisted that funding levels were only enabling councils to “keep pace with patching up our local roads”.
It was claimed that funding for strategic routes — large A roads and motorways — was 40 times higher than that for local roads over the last parliament.
Separate figures show a £12.1 billion backlog of local road repairs, with the Asphalt Industry Alliance warning it would take 13 years to clear the backlog at current funding rates.
CTC said “even the most minor defects” in the road could lead to serious injuries if cyclists hit them at speed. One cyclist, Martyn Uzzell, 51, was killed on a charity bike ride in 2011 after riding over a pothole in North Yorkshire and being thrown into the path of a car.
Sam Jones, CTC’s spokesman, said: “For cyclists, potholes aren’t mere inconveniences. They’re a real blight, where even the most minor defects can lead to serious, life-changing injuries.”
Department for Transport statistics show that 3,410 cyclists were killed or seriously injured in the 12 months to the end of March, compared with 3,383 a year earlier. A further 16,760 cyclists were slightly injured.
By comparison, among all road users, deaths and serious injuries were down by 3 per cent in the past year.
CTC’s FillThatHole.org.uk website, allows cyclists to log problem roads. It updates the site when councils or cyclists report that a defect has been fixed.
Peter Box, transport spokesman for the LGA, said councils fixed more potholes last year than ever before, adding: “Current funding levels mean councils are only able to keep pace with patching up our roads and filling potholes rather than carrying out more cost-effective and long-term improvements.”
A DfT spokesman said: “Safety is our first priority as Britain sees a significant rise in cycling and we are investing more than ever.”
20,170Road accidents involving cyclists in past 12 months
23 per cent Increase in injuries since 2009
£12.16bn Estimated backlog of local road repairs in UK
13 years Length of time it would take to fix all poor surfaces
40 to 1 Ratio of funding for A-roads/ motorways compared with local roads £23m Compensation given to road users for pothole-related accidents
544 Average compensation claims per local authority