Last Monday, 16th January was not only ‘Blue Monday’ (the most depressing day of the year), it was also known as National Pothole Day. Anyone who has been involved in an altercation with a pothole may just see the irony in the two coinciding!
The purpose of National Pothole Day was not to celebrate the fact that the UK’s road infrastructure is still suffering serious neglect with an increasing backlog of repairs and maintenance budgets being slashed. Instead, its purpose was to highlight that there are some simple and straightforward ways in which you the general public can easily report problematic potholes to your Local Authorities.
The three websites and apps that we use most often are:-
We know that potholes can be hazardous for all road users, but especially those on two wheels. Not only can they cause property damage but, for cyclists, they can result in significant injury. However, did you know that cyclists who suffer injury due to a hazardous road surface may be able to claim against the council?
To succeed with such a claim, evidence is required of the specific nature of the road defect and any investigations must identify fault on the part of the roads authority, contractor or some other responsible organisation.
Success in claims involving hazardous road surfaces very much depends on various factors including the size of the pothole, its location, the nature of the defect and how long it has been in existence. In simple terms we must prove two points;
1) The local authority knew or ought to have known about the defect in advance of the accident.
2) That the defect was of a severity that warranted repair prior to the incident.
At Cycle Law Scotland, we have access to experts in road engineering who can provide reports on the nature of various road defects.
If you have sustained injury or damage as a result of a hazardous road surface, you should:
- Inform the police as soon as possible and certainly within 14 days.
- If you have been injured, ask the police to attend the accident scene.
- Inform the local council of the problem and keep a note of that record, including the name of the person you spoke to and/or reference number provided
- Obtain details of any witnesses at the scene and ask them to confirm the presence and extent of the road surface defect or diesel spill.
- Take photographs and measurements - if you're unable to do this, ask someone to take photographs for you.
- Note down as much information as you can about the location and scene of the incident.
The case of David Murray is a good example of a successful pothole case.
So, if you come across a pothole which has the potential to unseat a cyclist, take a quick photo of it and upload it to one of the three sites mentioned above. That way, the Local Authority has been notified of the defect and, depending on its severity, has an obligation to do something about it within a given timescale.