Potholes have contributed to the death or serious injury of almost 400 cyclists over the past decade, official figures show.
The number of serious cycling accidents caused by crumbling roads has also hit the highest level in almost ten years.
Four cyclists died and 60 were seriously injured in 2016, the latest year for which official statistics are available. This compares with two fatalities and 15 serious injuries in 2007.
Between 2007 and 2016, 22 cyclists died and 368 were badly hurt, according to figures published by roads minister Jesse Norman after a parliamentary question from Labour MP Catherine West. The statistics covered the number of accidents where police reported that a ‘poor or defective road surface’ was a ‘contributory factor’.
The number of serious cycling accidents caused by crumbling roads has also hit the highest level in almost ten years (stock image)
Mr Norman also revealed that ‘inadequate or masked signs or road markings’ contributed to the serious injury of 71 cyclists and the death of two between 2007 and 2016. This includes faded road markings at junctions.
Campaigners have warned that the deteriorating state of many local roads is making them more dangerous, but councils say budget cuts mean they cannot afford to carry out repairs and fill in potholes.
Spending on local roads managed by councils fell by around a fifth from £1.46billion to £1.17billion between 2007 and 2016.
Research by the Asphalt Industry Alliance last year estimated that it would cost £12billion to get roads in England and Wales into a reasonable condition. Edmund King, president of the AA, described some local roads as a ‘death trap’, with further deterioration after the recent freezing weather. He added: ‘This tragic toll of cyclists killed… is far worse than we thought.
‘We had earlier raised our concerns of deaths among cyclists after a coroner’s report saying that new Department for Transport road maintenance guidance would lead to more riders’ deaths.’
Peter Sigee, the assistant coroner for Greater Manchester North, said in November that new rules allowing council highway inspectors to leave deep potholes in the roads are putting cyclists’ lives at risk.
His warning about the light-touch government guidance for pothole repairs was issued in a report to Transport Secretary Chris Grayling.
It came after the death of pensioner Roger Hamer, 83, who was thrown from his bike on a road pitted by potholes in Ramsbottom, Greater Manchester.
Many councils only fix potholes that are more than 4cm deep, even though shallower ones can cause cyclists to come off their bikes. Sam Jones, of the campaign group Cycling UK, said: ‘[We are] incredibly concerned to see what is clearly a trend on the up, showing more people being killed or seriously injured while cycling, all because our roads are in shocking state.
Many councils only fix potholes that are more than 4cm deep, even though shallower ones can cause cyclists to come off their bikes (stock image)
‘Unfortunately for cyclists, if they hit a pothole it’s not just a costly repair bill but also a strong possibility of personal injury or in the worst cases, death.’
The AA yesterday called on local authorities to divert three months of income from parking, bus lane and yellow box fines to be diverted to local highways authorities as an emergency measure to fix roads after the damage caused by heavy snow and ice last week.
Official figures earlier this year showed that councils are prioritising major roads with their funding from central government.
At the same time that spending on local roads has fallen, the amount spent on major roads managed by councils rose by a fifth to £1.43billion between 2011 and last year. The Department for Transport said it is spending £23billion on improving the road network between 2015 and 2021.