The Government has announced a £6bn fund to help tackle potholes and improve local roads. The press release doesn’t mention road user types, but Labour’s response does. Michael Dugher MP, the shadow transport secretary, said: "Hard-pressed motorists and businesses are justifiably sick and tired of having their vehicles damaged because of Britain’s pothole crises." The Labour party statement didn’t mention cyclists.
Clearly, Dugher doesn’t consider cyclists to be road users, or likely to be affected by potholes while, in fact, cyclists are more likely to be worried about the danger from potholes than motorists. And, as Sustrans points out, the Government’s announcement about potholes doesn’t mention the maintenance and repair of cycle routes and pavements.
The public highway is defined as the full width of the "road", including the carriageway and the footways.
Claire Francis, head of policy at Sustrans, said:
“Fixing potholes and improving local roads will increase safety for all road users but this must include maintenance and repair of cycle routes and pavements.
“Fixing the roads without investing in cycling and walking will just create more traffic and increase congestion and harmful emissions.
“The Infrastructure Bill is set to deliver the biggest shake up to the roads network in a generation. It provides a golden opportunity for Parliament to guarantee funding for cycling and walking beyond 2016, as it has done for rail and roads, as well as setting ambitious targets for change.
“The legacy could be a healthier, cleaner and more prosperous England – it’s an opportunity we can’t afford to miss.”
Under the DfT announcement over £4.7 billion will be shared between 115 councils and a further £575 million will be available through a new challenge fund to help repair and maintain local highway infrastructure such as junctions, bridges and street lighting. A further £578 million has also been set aside for an incentive fund scheme which will start in 2016 to reward councils who demonstrate they are delivering value for money in carrying out cost effective improvements.
Transport Secretary Patrick McLoughlin said that the money will be spent on tackling potholes and improving local roads between 2015 and 2021.
McLoughlin (pictured) said:
"Roads play a significant part in everyday life. Poorly maintained local roads, blighted by potholes, are a menace to all road users, particularly during the festive period as people travel to see family and friends.
"The £6 billion funding I am announcing today will put an end to short term fixes and will mean we have committed £10 billion between 2010 and 2021.
"This huge investment is part of our long term economic plan to ensure we have a transport network fit for the 21st century."
CTC chief executivePaul Tuohy said:
“It’s encouraging to see the Government employing a long term strategy on mending the surface of our roads, and I hope that they will now plan similarly for cycling.
“Potholes have long been the scourge of English roads – which is why we created our Fill that Hole app to report them. When fixing them it is important to prioritise local roads and streets, as these are most frequently used by pedestrians and cyclists.
“It is disappointing that the Government will not consider cycle-proofing planned maintenance as one of the criteria for their incentive fund. As we have seen with the success in Plymouth, planned road maintenance is a prime time also to put in good quality cycling infrastructure. By doing these two things together, both time and money savings can be made.”