About a year ago I was cycling home from work and came a cropper when I hit a pot hole in the road.
The road in question is in the countryside, just on the edge of the city. There are no street lights and it was a dark, rainy winters night. I have a Cat-Eye Power Opti-Cube LED bike light, which I am very pleased with. It provides enough light to see where you are going when it is dark, but when faced with the glare of the headlights of on-coming traffic it is impossible to see the road surface.
The wind was behind me so I was cycling at a fair pace, looking forward to getting home. I had cycled past a section of road that I knew to have pot holes. In order to avoid them I had kept to a position further out in the road than normal. After cycling about another 5 metres I began to move back towards the edge of the road. It was then that I hit the nasty pot hole. Despite having a reasonable pair of suspension forks, when my front wheel hit the edge of the pot hole the bike stopped dead. I took to the air! Fortunately I was travelling towards the side of the road and not in the path of on-coming traffic. My flight ended abruptly when I ploughed into a wooden fence on the verge. Fortunately my injuries were minimal: just a big scratch on my forearm. Luckily too, my bike was undamaged although I really ought to buy a new helmet since the side of my head hit a fence post. A kind motorist who had seen what happened pulled in to check that I was ok, which makes a pleasant change from motorists usual disregard for the safety of cyclists.
The next day I rang the council to report the pot hole. They did not seem overly interested until I told them that I had fallen off my bike. To their credit the pot holes were filled in a few days later.
Cyclists Fill That Hole!
Now I have found out about another way for cyclists and other road users to report pot holes to the council, which I think is worth sharing. Its a nifty website run by cycling organisation CTC, called Fill That Hole .org.uk. Since cyclists are particularly vulnerable to pot holes and cracks in the road, I would recommend that all UK bike riders add it to their bookmarks.
Following the deluge of snow and ice during cold snap, many new potholes have appeared. As it happens, whilst out driving the other day I noticed a large pothole in the road. Unfortunately by the time I noticed the pot hole there was not enough time to alter my course. Although I applied my brakes, my front nearside wheel hit the pothole with a great big bang.
Its not all bad news. The discovery of this pothole has given me the opportunity try out Fill That Hole!
Its a relatively straight forward process. Just click on “Report a Hazard” and fill in the questions. These include giving a description of the pothole, including its approximate size and depth. The next bit I like. Using Google maps, you find the location of the pothole, click on the map and a little red flag appears indicating the position of pothole. You also need to add a detailed description of the location of the pothole.
When you click “next” a page appears asking you to confirm the location, and the highway authority has automatically been identified.
The next page asks whether you were injured, whether your property was damaged and what mode of transport you were using. Finally you need to enter contact details. Then you can submit the report. Job done. All you need to do now is sit back and wait for the council to chuck a lump of tarmac in the pothole.
You get confirmation of your submission by e-mail and also the opportunity to add comments, update the report when the hazard has been fixed and even upload photos of the offending pot hole.
You can also find out where other potholes are by searching on the map or via the list of authorities. The following is comment that someone has made about the stretch of road where I fell off my bike, as mentioned above:
The road surface at the side is just horrendous. Its full of lumps bumps and potholes. You have to try and drive/cycle/ride in the middle of it to avoid getting that bone shakin feeling! Its been like that for years and never been re-surfaced. Its heavily used so you have no choice but to drive in the normaly driving position at much detriment to car/bicycle!
Pot Holes Filled
One other feature of the Fill That Hole site is that you can see how effective different highways agencies are at fixing potholes. The site average for all highways authorities and councils is only 33%.
The pot hole that I reported had already been filled by the time I rode home 2 hours later. So I assume that it had already been brought to the councils attention and scheduled for repair before I reported it to them. So unfortunately I will be unable to report on Fill That Hole’s effectiveness until I am able to report another pothole!
Is your council reluctant to sort out potholes? Are you a cyclist who has used Fill That Hole .org.uk? Did the pothole get filled? Share your experience, click on “comments” below!