Cyclists facing “most dangerous roads in seven years”

New research suggests that cyclists are facing their most dangerous riding conditions in seven years as the number of potholes blighting Britain’s roads skyrockets.

New figures show that there were 10,578 reported highways holes in the first four months of the year – the highest number since 2011. April proved to be the fifth worst month ever, with 3,283 sightings –falling just short of March 2011’s total of 3,894.

The sudden upsurge – reported potholes fell by almost 20 per cent last year – has led cycling experts to demand prompt and effective action by local authorities.

Scott Snaith, founder of Leicestershire-based 50cycles said: “Every pothole poses a potential risk to a cyclist. While most of the focus is usually on car owners, cyclists pay their taxes and are entitled to ride on safe and clear highways too.

“The cold winter weather was brutal and has undoubtedly contributed to the significant increase in potholes, but more still needs to be done to counter the problem. I would urge all local authorities to do work to bring Britain’s pothole-damaged roads up to safe standard.”

The figures, which come from the Fill That Hole pothole reporting website, show there have been over 600 additional hazards identified this month.

This year’s running total already exceeds that of the whole of 2017 and is fast approaching the 11,546 figure for all of 2015.

Fill That Hole, which is operated by the national charity Cycling UK, has been counting potholes since 2007. The worst recorded year was 2011, when 20,646 road holes were reported, 14,422 by the end of April. The three months from January to March that year had the highest ever figures, peaking at 4,106 in February.

2013 was the second worst year, with 11,394 reported holes to the end of April and 18,724 for the year.

Mr Snaith said cyclists could expect the roads to improve with the onset of summer, but urged councils to prepare better for when more severe weather returns: “It is cold temperatures that cause most of the problems and so we should see far fewer potholes over the coming months. Our aim is to encourage people to get off the sofa and get on a bike, however, it’s hard to do that if the roads are not in a fit state.”

Figures from the Department for Transport show that around 1.5 million people aged over 16 cycle at least five times a week.

A further 2.5 million get in the saddle at least three times a week, and 5.4 million at least once a week.

The 3.5 billion miles cycled in 2016 is about 23 per cent higher than the figure ten years earlier, and 6.3 per cent more than the miles cycled in 2015. The figure for 2016 is about the same as in 2014, which was the highest since 1987, but way below the 14.7 billion miles of 1949.

Motorways and major roads and maintained by the Highways Agency, with most other roads being the responsibility of councils.

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