Failure to fill pothole leads to cyclist's death
Water filled pothole
Mother of three triathlete Kate Vanloo was tragically killed on Sunday 3 January after being thrown off her bike when she hit a water filled pothole that Warwickshire Council had failed to fix.
Kate was an experienced cyclist who had previously completed a Land's End to John O'Groats charity ride. She was also a British Triathlon coach and an active member of the Rugby Triathlon Club.
On 3 January she was cycling with a friend along Holt Lane in Napton, Warwickshire, when she hit the pothole and was thrown onto the road and into the path of an oncoming car which hit her. A West Midlands Ambulance Service spokesman confirmed that upon arrival at the scene it was apparent that nothing could be done to save Kate's life.
Xmas tree sales trump safety
According to the Telegraph report the whole road was due to be resurfaced before Christmas, but the work was postponed after a request by a nearby farmer selling Christmas trees from his premises. The owner of a nearby campsite Neil Adkins told the Daily Mail that "road closure signs went up last month, but then nothing happened".
The car driver, a woman believed to be in her sixties, was treated for the effects of shock and discharged at the scene. Clubmate and fellow triathlete Philip Scott said: "Potholes are a major problem all over the country. Even though we are in a time of austerity, they need to be tackled. I don't think that many motorists realise that if a cyclist moved out into the road they are not being difficult. They may well be trying to avoid a pothole."
Potholes are a major problem all over the country. Even though we are in a time of austerity, they need to be tackled. I don't think that many motorists realise that if a cyclist moved out into the road they are not being difficult. They may well be trying to avoid a pothole."
Rugby Triathlon Club member
No Comment from Council
Within 48 hours workmen from Warwickshire Council had filled in the pothole in question, but the Council was not contactable for comment when approached by both the Daily Mail and Telegraph.
Hole in the road - what's the urgency?
While reporting a pothole will not necessarily see it filled immediately, the report plays an important function. Once the pothole is reported the council responsible for maintaining the particular road can no longer claim that they were unaware of its existence. This is despite having an appropriate system of regular inspection and repairs, as having a direct report of a particular defect, there is now a legal obligation to repair.
The idea behind reporting potholes is therefore to encourage the Council to fix them. In this case Warwickshire County Council appears to have been aware of the need to do so, but decided to put this off until the New Year. If the press reports are correct, the needs of a local seasonal business appear to have taken priority over safety.
Failure to fix or failure to report?
CTC has encouraged cyclists and other road users to report potholes via our FillThatHole website and mobile application (on both Apple and Android). As at 1.00pm today 762 hazards had been reported to Warwickshire County Council through that site. Councils to whom reports are made are encouraged to report back via our website to confirm when a hazard has been fixed. Warwickshire County Council has confirmed on our site that 199 of those hazards have been fixed (20%). Unfortunately CTC are unable to say whether that reflects a failure to fix the other reported hazards, or a failure to report the fixing of them.
As indicated above, Warwickshire Council was unavailable for comment when approached by the press. CTC is anxious to hear whether they have another explanation regarding the delay in repairing this particular road, which appears to have contributed to Kate's tragic and avoidable death, over and above a concern about disrupting Christmas tree sales.
If potholes and other road hazards are a problem whether you're cycling, walking or driving, make sure you report them via Fill That Hole to ensure the right local authority is notified.