In the US, President Obama has pledged to 'Fix It First' before building new roads. In the UK, public transport, walking and cycling groups have joined forces to call for the Chancellor of the Exchequer to focus on repairing the country's existing roads "rather than spending on expensive and damaging new road schemes."
The chief executives of CTC, Living Streets, Campaign to Protect Rural England, Sustrans and Campaign for Better Transport have signed a joint letter to the Chancellor, asking him to create a Road Repair and Renewal Fund. The letter sets out how the fund would help address the growing £10.5 billion deficit in road and footway maintenance, while quickly bringing gains for a variety of road users, the wider community and the economy.
The RAC and business groups including the CBI, Federation of Small Businesses and the British Chambers of Commerce have also called for the establishment of such a fund.
Stephen Joseph, chief executive of the Campaign for Better Transport said:
"Our roads are in poor condition with a £10.5 billion backlog of repairs. We're calling on the Chancellor to create a properly resourced Road Repair and Renewal Fund to sort this problem out. Rather than planning unpopular and unnecessary new roads which couldn't be built for years, this new fund would help out everyone who relies on our roads now, as well as supporting jobs on the ground."
Gordon Seabright, chief executive of CTC, said:
“While drivers are rightly concerned at the damage that potholes can cause, cyclists view them as a really serious injury risk. In a typical year, around 12 percent of compensation claims pursued by CTC on our members’ behalf are due to road maintenance defects.
“By starting to turn around Britain’s road maintenance backlog, a Road Repair and Renewal Fund could help improve cycling conditions in other ways too. If councils also looked to introduce new cycle facilities whenever a road is being resurfaced, that would be a really cost-effective way of helping more people to discover cycling’s benefits – for their health, their quality of life and their wallets.”
Tony Armstrong, chief executive of Living Streets said:
“We know that people are more likely to walk in their local area if their streets are well maintained, improving not only their personal health, but the economy on the local high street.”
Shaun Spiers, chief executive of the Campaign to Protect Rural England, said:
“The Chancellor hasn’t got the money to build new roads as well as repair the thousands of potholed ones. If he chooses new roads over repairing the existing network, he will not only destroy precious countryside, he will also give millions of cars [and bicycles] a hammering because of the plague of potholes sweeping the country.”
Malcolm Shepherd, chief executive of Sustrans, said:
"Due to the poor condition our of our roads many people are prevented from having travel choice for everyday journeys. Improving the condition of our roads with a properly resourced Road Repair and Renewal Fund would enable people to have the choice of travel by bike, improving people’s access to employment and to essential services."