Potholes – getting the basics wrong

Potholes. A nuisance to drivers and occasional cause of damage to their vehicles. A hazard to people on bikes and often a cause of injury, discomfort and excessive danger. We’re campaigning as part of our Space For Cycling mini-manifesto for the council to take them more seriously, here’s just one simple example of council negligence to explain why we’re concerned about this.

A recent Freedom of Information request by Cycling Weekly looking at potholes and their danger for cyclists (full report published in their April 10th issue) found that no fewer than 8 people had successfully claimed compensation from the council caused by a pothole. The council refused to disclose how much compensation it had paid but across London in five years it is known at least £1m has been paid out. Putney Bridge came out particularly badly with £22k paid out due to its surface alone. Basic pothole repairs are thought to cost £50-60. It would be better to get the basics right, as the councillors claim should be happening but isn’t and fill in the holes or resurface streets.

The sign telling drivers about the cycle lane...
The sign telling drivers about the cycle lane…
... which is obscured by a bush shelter and other signs.
… which is obscured by a bus shelter and other signs.

Our member Susie Gretz who lives near the north of the borough has repeatedly raised the quality of the road surface on Wood Lane north of the Westway. In the southbound direction there is an advisory cycle lane between two fast moving lanes which has long had a series of deep, long and dangerous potholes.

Susie had been somewhat encouraged to read in an article in the (sadly now effectively defunct) local paper in February, the Hammersmith and Fulham Chronicle quoting Victoria Brocklebank-Fowler, Conservative ‘champion’ of cyclists and holder of transport saying:

“These road works are essential improvements that will help everyone in the borough in the long-term. This is about getting the basics right, making sure our road surfaces are easy to drive and cycle over, and banishing pot holes, which everyone hates. We know how important our roads are and these improvements will be carried out as quickly as possible, and with as little disruption as possible.”

Traffic rushes past either side of the cycle lane on Wood Lane
Traffic rushes past either side of the cycle lane on Wood Lane

It’s now May. We’ve been down to have a look at the road surface after these repairs. We think it would be fair to say the council hasn’t got the basics right. The potholes remain in the cycle lane, and as becomes rapidly apparent the already narrow cycle lane remains compromised severely by the sunken manhole sat right in the middle of it.


Susie Gretz, our local member comments as follows:

The stretches of Wood Lane just north and south of the Westway – in particular, between Shinfield Street and the Westway  – have been in for several years in an appalling condition for cyclists.  Complaints by telephone and writing to the relevant authorities at LBHF have had absolutely no effect.  It is only a matter of time before one of the many potholes on these stretches, especially those on the green cycle path, cause a cyclist to swerve toward either of the two lanes of fast-moving traffic on either side, causing a fatal accident.

A cyclist 'negotiating' their position towards the cycle lane whilst a car driver overtakes to turn left onto the Westway.
A cyclist ‘negotiating’ their position towards the cycle lane whilst a car driver overtakes to turn left onto the Westway.

Looking at collision statistics we can see that 2 of the 67 serious collisions in the borough in the three years from 2010-2012 (2013 stats not yet available)  occurred along this stretch of road. It is notable to anyone who observes how people cycle in this stretch that many people seek refuge by cycling on the pavement. The road has enough width that this would not be necessary were it providing safer facilities.

Space for five lanes. Surely there's more Space For Cycling here?
Space for five lanes. Surely there’s more Space For Cycling here?

Whilst a uniform road surface without troubling and dangerous potholes will improve safety somewhat we are naturally seeking protected space for cycling at this junction. Current design asks people cycling south into Hammersmith and Fulham under the Westway to pull right in front of vehicles reaching close to 30mph readying themselves to enter a faster dual carriageway. Through this junction people on cycles also mix with other vehicles entering and exiting the A40. There is ample space to provide high quality protected space into this junction from wormwood scrubs and beyond, and to utilise low level signals, separate phases and clear protected space for cycling to enable ages 8-80 at any level of fitness to pass a key barrier to cycling. Support our mini-manifesto and ask for protected space in College Park and Old Oak.

It's going to need resurfaced, let's lay it out properly as well.
It’s going to need resurfaced, let’s lay it out properly as well.