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"It's just too dangerous": Popular cycling event cancelled due to "grave state" of roads

The secretary of the club which organises the event accepted that the local council had "done what they can to fix" potholes and road defects, but ultimately participants should not be asked to "take your life in your hands"...

The cycling club behind a popular Cambridgeshire cycling event has called of this year's edition due to the dangerous potholes that cover the route.

Speaking to the BBC, the club secretary of the Histon and Impington Bicycle Club, Chris Davie, described the state of the roads on the Strawberry Community Cycle Event route as "grave" and said it would be "very dangerous to cycle through".

The club feared that participants in the family-friendly event — which has been running since 2015, attracting up to 400 participants, and offering four routes ranging from seven miles (11km) to 55 miles (88km) — could be injured in falls caused by the poor state of the county's roads.

Mr Davie said the event, held in September, is a "fantastic social event bringing the local villages together" but would not be held this year as "the state of the roads is just too dangerous".

"Everyone loves it and they're really disappointed we've had to cancel it this year," he said. "It's just too dangerous for families and cyclists to ride the route.

"It's about protecting the safety of families and cyclists, and with the potholes you can easily come off, break a bike, damage yourself as well as getting in the way of other traffic by trying to avoid potholes. It's very dangerous — you sometimes take your life in your hands — and I'm an accomplished cyclist."

Cambridgeshire County Council said it was sorry the organisers had "chosen to cancel the event" and emphasised it had enjoyed "working very successfully" with the event "over a number of years."

"However, we are dealing with a large number of potholes across the county and cannot unfortunately focus all our resources on a single event," a spokesperson said.

"We are constantly working to repair potholes and keep Cambridgeshire's roads safe for all — we fixed 45,000 potholes last year alone — but resources are a constant challenge.

Mr Davie accepted that "the local council has done what it can to fix what it can" but compared road maintenance to dentistry. "Unless you maintain it continually you end up with these deep cavities in the road that need a patchwork quilt trying to fix them, and that's just not an adequate solution," he said.

In the past couple of weeks we have reported about the struggles of Ride the North sportive's organiser, battling with the council to get road improvements in order to allow his August event in Aberdeenshire to go ahead safely.

Last week, Neil Innes was left in disbelief after visiting a road he was considering redirecting the route along, to avoid more serious defects, only to find it had been 'repaired' using a sea of loose chippings.

Potholes and loose gravel (Neil Innes)

Aberdeenshire Council later told road.cc there had been a "slight delay in undertaking the sweeping part of the process" of surface dressing. However, Mr Innes' concerns with the council went beyond just this incident as the council said it would not repair other defects on the route nor let the organiser hire a contractor to fix them himself.

Elsewhere in Scotland, in February, we reported that a cyclist had raised the alarm over "dangerous" potholes on 2023 World Championships road race routes.

2023 World Championships Glasgow road race potholes (Liam McReanan)

Last month defects were repaired, in works described as "crude" by local riders, a member of Tadej Pogačar's Slovenian team reportedly saying the Scottish roads are the "worst they'd ever seen".

Dan joined road.cc in 2020, and spent most of his first year (hopefully) keeping you entertained on the live blog. At the start of 2022 he took on the role of news editor. Before joining road.cc, Dan wrote about various sports, including football and boxing for the Daily Express, and covered the weird and wonderful world of non-league football for The Non-League Paper. Part of the generation inspired by the 2012 Olympics, Dan has been 'enjoying' life on two wheels ever since and spends his weekends making bonk-induced trips to the petrol stations of the south of England.

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3 comments

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dolphy | 7 months ago
6 likes

And another thing. Where I live we have the worst potholes in the world but they don't bother me. I always carry a roll of linoleum on my back. If I can't avoid said pothole I roll out the lino in front of me and carry on. You won't hear me moaning on about the state of the roads cos I'm a responsible cyclist. I roll my lino up till the next time I need it a few yards down the road. I salute the drivers I have inadvertently held up, they give me a friendly '' toot toot '' and everyone is happy. I should also point out that I'm a very good cyclist and can majestically glide over most potholes

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IanMSpencer | 7 months ago
6 likes

As I mentioned before, the council criteria for road repairs are clearly car-centric and they are content to leave bike damaging and balance interfering faults in the road. (e.g. there is a deep score in the road left by a farm implement that's been there for years, about 400 metres long right on the ideal cycle line that must not be entered).
Must do my FOI to find out what SMBC's repair criteria are. Ask I know they only have Highways engineers now, no dedicated footpaths officer and I'm not sure if they have any proper cycle awareness based on their shoddy bike lanes, I doubt cyclists will feature anywhere in their thought process for repairs.

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LarryDavidJr replied to IanMSpencer | 7 months ago
7 likes

What I have found works in my area is to report it, wait for the email back saying it's "within limits" and then reply back, every time, with a note saying "that's ok. Now that I've notified you of it, if I or anyone I hear of falls off a bike and hurts themselves it makes it much easier to sue you".

It usually gets repaired anyway.

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