Potholes are a menace to all road users, but to a cyclist they can be downright lethal.
Just this week we were approached on Facebook by a chap whom had been thrown from his bike by a pothole on Castle Street in June 2015 and has been unable to ride since. Also, CTC recently shared the story of father-of-three Ralph Brazier, who sadly lost his life following an accident involving a pothole in Weybridge, Surrey. The same article also referred to an accident in 2014 near Cardiff involving Olympic gold medallist Dani King.
It is the latest cycling accident to be linked to potholes. Olympic gold medal-winning cyclist Dani King was left in intensive care with broken ribs and a punctured lung after hitting a pothole near Cardiff in 2014.
Frustratingly, due to the way potholes are formed –by fatigue from motor traffic passing over them, many of the potholes you’ll find whilst out riding are in the channel that you will spend most of your time.
They also like to occur around manhole and drain covers. They’re a particular menace at night and in poor visibility and if they are deep enough they can, at best, knock your wheel out of true and at worst, flip you over onto your head.
Here in Cardiff, the Council has set aside an extra £320,000 for pothole repairs for the 2016/17 financial year, but we have a lot of them and it is going to take time to get around to all of them. Bearing in mind it borrowed £11m for pothole repairs in 2012, £320,000 is a drop in the ocean.
How big does a pothole need to be?
Policy on how big a pothole needs to be before repairs are deemed necessary apparently varies from council to council. Some will act on dinner-plate sized potholes, others require that it reaches the size of a dustbin lid. Either way, you’re going in if you’re not careful.
However, focussing on the traditional pothole such as that pictured above is a thin end of a big wedge. Other imperfections in the road, particularly where a utility firm has dug a channel (such as on Llantrisant Road heading towards Radyr) and it is at a different level to the rest of the road forming a curb; or even where a pothole has been repaired to the point where it is now a raised bump, all present a danger to those of us on bikes.
What can we do?
For the council to repair them, we need to be on the ball when it comes to reporting them. Fortunately, there are a number of ways we can do that.
All you need to do is, either find the location of the hole on the map and fill in the description, or you can use the iOS or Android app while you are at the scene to snap a photo and record the location details. FixMyStreet will then generate an email to the council and send it off within a few minutes.
Whilst we are out and about, particularly at night, we can make sure we can see these potholes before we find ourselves in one. For that you’ll need a good front light. Fortunately, we have an article on lighting already.
A really good light isn’t a minor expense, but they’re worth their weight in gold when they keep you out of hedges, potholes and ditches at the side of the road.