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If you’re a cyclist who has suffered damage from a pothole, you may be entitled to compensation. Claiming pothole damage from the council can be a complicated process, but it’s important to hold local authorities accountable for maintaining safe roads.
Cycling on the roads of Britain can be a great way to get around, but potholes and other road damage can make it hazardous. According to the Annual Local Authority Road Maintenance Survey 2022, 1.7 million potholes were filled in England and Wales . That’s the equivalent of one every 19 seconds!
However, potholes and other defects on the road continue to pose a risk for cyclists and, when spotted, should be reported for public safety. Here’s our Cycle SOS guide for cyclists, covering how to report a pothole.
What is a pothole?
In the UK, potholes are generally caused by water freezing and expanding in cracks on the road surface. This causes further damage to the road’s structure, which can become a hazard for cyclists.
Other factors that contribute to pothole formation include excessive wear and tear from heavy traffic, poor drainage, inadequate resurfacing or patching, and tree roots.
One of the reasons potholes are so prevalent in the UK is our climate – the frequent freeze-thaw cycles in winter, and sometimes as quickly as overnight in transitional periods such as Spring and Autumn, cause roads to wear out faster and increase the chances of potholes forming.
Are potholes dangerous?
When a pothole can be considered dangerous will vary between local authorities. However, in general, a dangerous pothole is a minimum of 40mm deep and at least 300mm wide. Potholes and uneven road surfaces can cause a cyclist serious head, neck, shoulder and upper-arm injuries if hit.
How do I report a pothole?To report a pothole or road defect in England or Wales, simply enter the postcode of the road where you found the defect. You can also use the Fill That Hole reporting tool, commissioned by Cycling UK.
Whose responsibility is it to repair potholes?It is the responsibility of the local Highways Authority such as a county, city or borough council (or private landowner) to repair potholes or other road defects and ensure they are safe for use as outlined in The Highways Act 1980. If you’ve experienced a cycling injury after hitting a pothole, you may be able to make a compensation claim if you can prove the local authority was negligent in maintaining the roads. In some cases, you may be claiming against a government agency rather than a local council, so it is important to check who is responsible before starting your claim.
How do I make a pothole claim?To make a successful pothole claim, it is key that you clearly document the pothole as soon as possible after the cycling accident. Even a week later may be too late as the road defect may have changed, or even been repaired, making your compensation claim more difficult to process.
It is therefore crucial that you gather all the evidence necessary, including images, measurements, and the exact location of the pothole, before reporting the defect and starting your claim.
When it comes to making a successful pothole claim, you must provide as much detail about the accident as possible. When taking photographs, place a common object by the pothole for a reference of size, and measure the pothole using a flat-edge spirit-level and metal tape measure. Stay alert and look out for oncoming traffic while taking the measurements, you may decide to erect a hazard sign or take someone with you to ensure you’re safe.
How to measure a potholePlace the spirit-level or flat-edged aluminium or steel baton across the defect and clamp a metal tape measure or ruler to it. The ruler must touch the bottom of the pothole. All you need to do is make a note of the depth and take a picture of the measuring equipment in place.
What evidence should you photograph?Take images of the area immediately around the pothole and at different distances for a better perspective. Features around the pothole may give some context, for example, loose gravel may suggest recent deterioration, whereas vegetation may prove the pothole has been there for a while.
Taking images of your bike by the pothole will provide even further context, especially if you’re able to demonstrate the depth of the road defect when compared to your bike’s tyre and rim – potentially proving that the impact would have caused you to fall forwards on your bicycle.
You should also try to capture fixed features such as a road sign in your evidence images, as it helps to provide an exact location when making your cycling pothole claim. If your phone can store location data or geotag your images, you should include this information too.
Make a claim for pothole damage with Cycle SOSAt Cycle SOS, we can assist you with a pothole claim on a no-win, no-fee basis. Our conditional fee agreement means you’ll only pay for the support of our cycling accident claim specialists if you are successful in your claim.
With over 30 years experience helping cyclists, we’re able to carry out our own investigations, ensure you receive medical evidence as proof of your pothole cycling injury, and help you to get compensation for loss of earnings, damage costs, injury treatments, and home adaptations if necessary.
Our pothole claims service covers the entire UK, contact our specialist cycling legal experts today for a no-obligation consultation. For more information about our services or to start your claim, call 0808 100 9995 and speak to one of our specialist solicitors. We’re here 24/7 to help. You can email us or schedule a callback.
Sources:  – https://www.asphaltuk.org/wp-content/uploads/ALARM-survey-2022-FINAL.pdf