Why and how do roads need to be better maintained for cyclists?

Potholes and other road defects affect cyclists disproportionately. Photo: Cycling UK

Why and how do roads need to be better maintained for cyclists?

This article explains why Cycling UK believes road maintenance must be better resourced and refocused to ensure that all parts of the highway are accessible and safe, and that greater priority is given to active travel routes. 

Whilst every road user suffers from poor road surfaces, cyclists face a disproportionate risk of injury or death.

Over the last ten years, figures show that 22 cyclists have been killed in crashes in part attributed to poor road surfaces, and a further 368 were reported as seriously injured.    

It is probable, however, that these statistics - capturing only those reported to the police - greatly underestimate the total number of cyclists affected by poor road surfaces, as hospital data reveal.

64% of cyclists in England admitted to hospital in 2016/17 involved no other vehicle.

Highway maintenance regimes thus need to pay particular regard to cyclists’ needs. To do this:

  • Inspection frequencies and response levels should be higher on the most important parts of the cycle network, even where these routes are minor as far as motor vehicles are concerned, e.g. quiet lanes or back streets.
  • Criteria for intervention should also deal with the specific risks to cyclists, such as location in the road (i.e. the 50cms - 1.5m from the kerb where cyclists typically ride), and the shape of the fault (for instance, longitudinal cracks or sunken trench reinstatement - i.e. when the surface has been dug up for some reason and reinstated - may not reach the depth criteria, but can still represent a considerable risk for cyclists).
  • The existence of a fully planned cycle network, such as a Local Cycling and Walking Infrastructure Plan in England (LCWIP), not only provides the basis for prioritising inspections, but also the opportunity to integrate maintenance work with plans to improve cycling. Thus, when carrying out resurfacing or any other substantial change to the road alignment, any improvements recommended in the LCWIP should be implemented at the same time.

For more on highway maintenance for cyclists, read our recently updated full policy briefing.

The above recommendations were among 80 we made in our 'Cycle safety: make it simple' response to the Department for Transport's Cycle Safety Review (June 2018).

Sponsored Advert
Sponsored Advert
Sponsored Advert
Sponsored Advert
Join Cycling UK to help us change lives and communities through cycling
Join Cycling UK to help us change lives and communities through cycling
Membership gives you peace of mind insurance, discounts in cycle shops, rides & routes