Are British road surfaces getting worse? I think so.
As a road cyclist, especially riding a road bike with thin wheels, you have a unique connection with the surface of the road. Potholes are a real danger, but badly laid surfaces that undulate too much, or crumbling surfaces that feel fine in a car, are equally uncomfortable and have the potential to be hazardous. Particularly problematic are reinstatements by utility suppliers, which are rarely level, and poorly placed ironwork. Gutters on bus routes are ususally like an assault course. I was reminded of this riding down Crag Vale recently. The surface wasn’t that broken, and it wasn’t that bad. However, it felt like it had been laid with no foundations, and that the weight of cars and buses had caused it to sink in many places – a series of very close undulations that meant I had to be extremely careful.
I stumbled across this website, potholes.co.uk , which is very car-centric but had some interesting facts on it (if true)
- The average frequency for a road to be resurfaced in England is 65 years (Wales 81 years)
- If the budgets were made available (which they won’t be) it would take 11 years to catch up the backlog in England, and 16 years in Wales
These are pretty staggering figures, and we are falling behind every year. Cycling in France was a revelation, not least because the state of the roads was so much better.
It’s unlikely that the present government will do anything as they are cutting funding in every area, and frankly they don’t care. The previous government, after so long in power and leaving the greatest peacetime debt in history, should be the ones most ashamed.
All we can do as cyclists is pick our way through the assault courses that many roads have become, and hope that car drivers have the patience and give us the space to allow us to stay safe. Oh wait…