Many of the cyclists who have ridden on Britain’s roads will know that even at the best of times, it can be a bumpy ride due to potholes. They are caused by changes in temperature and water in cracks of the road surface meaning that potholes are a problem that unfortunately cannot be prevented. They put many road users at risk of damage to either their vehicles or themselves. According to research from the AA, 1 in 3 drivers in the UK reports that their car, van, or motorcycle has been damaged by potholes in the last two years with some cases even leading to crashes.

Potholed roads are an even bigger danger to cyclists. Suddenly steering around a pothole can put a rider into the path of passing cars, and it can be an even worse situation when a car swerves into a cyclist. It’s an issue that can only be sorted if road users report a pothole to their local authority as soon as they see them. However, only 1 in 5 people report potholes.

The AA created this InfoGIF to highlight the situation:

How to report a pothole
UK’s pothole problem and how to report one

Pothole Figures

The AA research highlights more about the damage caused by potholes and how people feel about them being fixed:

  • 51% of people surveyed have seen bad potholes locally, but not reported them. 40% would report a pothole if they knew how to do it.
  • Older drivers seem to be the best at avoiding potholes with only 25% of over-65s reporting vehicle damage. The rate is almost twice as high (42%) among the youngest (18-24 year old) drivers.
  • Damage is most likely in Scotland where 37% report damage and least likely in Northern Ireland (24%).
  • In another survey, when asked if they would volunteer to fill potholes themselves – 20% of people said they would if it was allowed by the local council.

How to report a pothole

The AA survey found that only 1 in 5 people report potholes. Reporting them can help them get fixed more quickly, if the council doesn’t know about it, they won’t know it needs to be repaired. If you have a local road that’s badly damaged, here are some steps to reporting it.

As the only solution is to make sure potholes are reported correctly, here’s how to do so:

  1. Make a note of the specific location of the pothole. This shouldn’t just be the name of the road, but also how far up it is based on a house number, or a nearby landmark.
  2. Find the contact details for your local council. You can go straight to their website, or pop the relevant postcode into the government’s ‘Report a Pothole‘ page.
  3. Add the details in. Some councils have interactive maps, where you can drop a pin to show the location of the pothole. Others have a contact form asking for more details.

There are also independent websites that have user-generated maps of potholes where road users can point out major potholes to others. However, these may not always be up-to-date so they shouldn’t be relied on instead of official channels.

You’ll also need to collect evidence to apply for compensation. The defect in the road also needs to be a certain size to count as a pothole. This varies from council to council, but a depth of more than 40 millimeters (about the size of two-pound coins) and a width similar to a dinner plate, is usually the minimum.

It also depends on how busy or critical the road is – a pothole on a quiet road might need to be quite noticeable before it gets repaired. If you feel the council has neglected their duty to keep roads safe, you have the right to make a pothole claim.

Potholes: a danger to cyclists
Despite it’s a great problem for cyclists and also motorists, only 1 in 5 people report potholes.

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