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Potholes in Cambridge roads causing worry for cyclists

By Ben Comber

Matthew Danish for CamCycle. Picture: Keith Heppell
Matthew Danish for CamCycle. Picture: Keith Heppell

The county council paid more than £30,000 in pothole compensation claims last year and is now spending £3million on repairs, but cyclists are saying the appalling state of the roads could end up costing lives.

A total of 243 residents complained that their vehicles had been damaged by potholes on the county’s roads, but a Freedom of Information request revealed the council only compensated 28 claimants, with £12,501.58 being the biggest single award. The total paid out by the council in 2017 was £30,439.74.

BBC data has also revealed that 3 per cent of Cambridgeshire A roads needed to be repaired last year – about 11.79km. This is compared to an average 3.84 per cent across the country’s other highway authorities.

However, the county’s minor roads are in worse condition. Around 6 per cent (251km)needed repair last year compared to the national average of 4.82 per cent.

But while drivers have it bad, cyclists are speaking of the dangers that roads in such disrepair can have.

Matt Danish, a campaigner for the Cambridge Cycling Campaign, said the poor condition of roads and cycle paths could be devastating.

He said: “Sometimes you just have to ride into the pothole, because if you go around it you can be clipped by traffic. It’s a horrible choice to make. It’s a problem, and it can be fatal.”

He said that some potholes have been left unrepaired for so long that cyclists know where they are and will avoid them. He said one, outside his home, had been there for at least a month.

“Most of the cycle paths never get maintained, and after a while they get wonky. Even when they beautifully repair the road next to it, they never do the cycle path.”

Figures released by the RAC Foundation last year, showed there were 262 pothole compensation claims to the county council in 2015-16, compared to 324 claims in 2014-15 and 485 in 2013-14.

In 2015-2016 only 35, or 15 per cent, of these claims were successful – with a total of £13,027 awarded in compensation.

This compared to 242, or 50 per cent, of successful claims in 2013-2014 – with a total of £104,264 paid out in compensation.

The county’s highways lead, Cllr Mathew Shuter, said: “We are listening to people’s frustrations by spending a further £3million on pothole repairs and have a programme to resurface roads.”


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