Pothole on Manor Rd, Guildford
Cyclist reporting a pothole via CTC's Fill That Hole app (Photo: CTC)

Failure to fill pothole leads to cyclist's death

Following the death of a cyclist who hit a water filled pothole and was thrown into the path of an oncoming car, Warwickshire County Council face questions as to why they allegedly postponed planned resurface works. Surely the decision wasn't because of xmas tree sales?

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."  

Philip Scott
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. 

DuncanDollimore

Comments

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On three occasions in Glasgow

Tulyar's picture

On three occasions in Glasgow I've been brought down by defects on main routes in the city - the council claims that main routes are inspected as a minimum every month but clearly they are reading from a different page.
Fall 1 - cast covers on water valves in the street are either stolen of knocked out, and the council (or Scottish water) hammers in a wooden block, which fails to repair things properly (too low/splits etc) and some temporary repairs have been there so long that grass is growing in the hole. one wooden block had tipped over as stood proud of the road with a hole either side, right in the line of a bend, and it took me down rolling on the road and badly bruising my arm. Satggeringly the Council claimed there was no fault with the road - despite the wooden plug repairs widely around the city quite clearly a substandard detail with many in place for months if not years
Fall 2 with the street lighting out the black 'patch' in the road ahead looked like the patch repair of a defect. It was actually an area which the Council contractor ad planed down by nearly 2 inches, leaving a set of deep furrows to trap bike tyres. I was lucky that the driver in the car behind was able to stop before hitting me or the bike. The hole had been made in the wrong place by a contractor who was stopped and sent to the right location - but the hole was left with no warning signs or even a patch-up covering to make it safe. Attempts to claim were thwarted by a pass the parcel round between the Council and the contractor.

Fall - Third time lucky? a narrow trench dug across a junction had sunk by nearly 6 inches, but was not easily spotted because the tarmac had not cracked. I almost managed to roll but my hip hit the road and stopped me from c 20mph to 0mph instantly fracturing the bone. The customers outside the Clutha Bar came over to protect me from the traffic moveing around and noted that the same defect had brought down a motorbike the previous month. So much for monthly inspections! I don't believe that my crash was actually recorded for STATS 19 either. I returned after recovering and the same hole was there. Even after it was repaired, and repaired again, and again the same hole kept reappearing for near enough the next 10 years, because every 'repair' was just a superficial patch, which never fixed the basic fault below the surface.

Elsewhere in the city we even have holes where the tram lines were taken up over 50 years ago, which get fixed (badly) and within 6 months start to sink again, and in Crewe I made a regular study of a hole in Mill Road sinking, cracking and being patched over every 2-4 weeks, whilst the key defect below was never addressed! Long-term it was probably costing more in a repairs visit every month than actually fixing the problem properly just once

By comparison the rail industry has a regulator who keeps a much closer eye on performance for repairs and maintenance. The good news is that Highways England is now under a roads regulator and this regime is now beginning to look at safety - initially of staff working on HE sites, as the HSC has highlighted the particularly poor figures for the formal reporting of injury incidents (RIDDOR) on Highways England sites http://www.mcginley.co.uk/news/highways-england-focuses-on-road-workforc.... Sadly no such regulation is in place for Councils and TfL as Roads Authorities, who are very much left to self regulate - so far we only have CTC's Fillthathole giving any passing semblance of a regulatory performance rating - and some authorities are dire..

On three occasions in Glasgow

Tulyar's picture

On three occasions in Glasgow I've been brought down by defects on main routes in the city - the council claims that main routes are inspected as a minimum every month but clearly they are reading from a different page.
Fall 1 - cast covers on water valves in the street are either stolen of knocked out, and the council (or Scottish water) hammers in a wooden block, which fails to repair things properly (too low/splits etc) and some temporary repairs have been there so long that grass is growing in the hole. one wooden block had tipped over as stood proud of the road with a hole either side, right in the line of a bend, and it took me down rolling on the road and badly bruising my arm. Satggeringly the Council claimed there was no fault with the road - despite the wooden plug repairs widely around the city quite clearly a substandard detail with many in place for months if not years
Fall 2 with the street lighting out the black 'patch' in the road ahead looked like the patch repair of a defect. It was actually an area which the Council contractor ad planed down by nearly 2 inches, leaving a set of deep furrows to trap bike tyres. I was lucky that the driver in the car behind was able to stop before hitting me or the bike. The hole had been made in the wrong place by a contractor who was stopped and sent to the right location - but the hole was left with no warning signs or even a patch-up covering to make it safe. Attempts to claim were thwarted by a pass the parcel round between the Council and the contractor.

Fall - Third time lucky? a narrow trench dug across a junction had sunk by nearly 6 inches, but was not easily spotted because the tarmac had not cracked. I almost managed to roll but my hip hit the road and stopped me from c 20mph to 0mph instantly fracturing the bone. The customers outside the Clutha Bar came over to protect me from the traffic moveing around and noted that the same defect had brought down a motorbike the previous month. So much for monthly inspections! I don't believe that my crash was actually recorded for STATS 19 either. I returned after recovering and the same hole was there. Even after it was repaired, and repaired again, and again the same hole kept reappearing for near enough the next 10 years, because every 'repair' was just a superficial patch, which never fixed the basic fault below the surface.

Elsewhere in the city we even have holes where the tram lines were taken up over 50 years ago, which get fixed (badly) and within 6 months start to sink again, and in Crewe I made a regular study of a hole in Mill Road sinking, cracking and being patched over every 2-4 weeks, whilst the key defect below was never addressed! Long-term it was probably costing more in a repairs visit every month than actually fixing the problem properly just once

By comparison the rail industry has a regulator who keeps a much closer eye on performance for repairs and maintenance. The good news is that Highways England is now under a roads regulator and this regime is now beginning to look at safety - initially of staff working on HE sites, as the HSC has highlighted the particularly poor figures for the formal reporting of injury incidents (RIDDOR) on Highways England sites http://www.mcginley.co.uk/news/highways-england-focuses-on-road-workforc.... Sadly no such regulation is in place for Councils and TfL as Roads Authorities, who are very much left to self regulate - so far we only have CTC's Fillthathole giving any passing semblance of a regulatory performance rating - and some authorities are dire..