Roads to ruin: the problem of potholes

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CTC Campaigns and Policy Coordinator Chris Peck explains why UK roads are so bad
Potholes aren't usually quite as large as this one
Potholes aren't usually quite as large as this one

Occasionally when cycling in France you will come across a road sign that says, “Chausée déformée”, followed by a section of road that is perhaps a bit on the bumpy side or contains the occasional pothole. I’ve always found this sign hilarious. If the standards used in France were adopted in Britain there would be many roads where this sign would have to be erected every few hundred metres over their entire length. To use that old saw: “you can tell how an economy is doing by the state of its roads.” By that reckoning parts of Britain are on the way to basket case territory.

When the routes for the 2012 Olympic cycle races were announced to run through London and Surrey I was delighted, thinking that at the very least a few of the battered roads would be resurfaced. Indeed in the hours before the ‘test event’ in August this year considerable emergency road repair took place. But the routes are still far from perfect and I was told, worryingly, that: “the quality of the road surface does not need to be perfect and Surrey County Council will maintain the Olympic cycling routes to a similar standard expected of our highways.”

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