David Cameron’s recent promise to spend £15bn building new roads in marginal constituencies got plenty of publicity. But it didn’t tackle the problem most of us face: the roads we already have are falling apart.
The current situation is typified by the experience of MCN reader Nick Tull. He hit a six-inch-deep pothole in the dark and was thrown into the opposite lane. Insurance claims are only the start of what can be an incredibly complex process. What happened when Nick tried to claim for his damaged Aprilia RSV demonstrates the mind-boggling incompetence of some councils.
“17 claims for one pothole”
Nick told MCN: “It was last February, coming back from a Sunday ride. It was dark and I was turning right using a central filter lane when I hit three potholes, two of which were as wide as dustbin lids and deep as a Timberland boot. Once you hit one, it was impossible to miss the other two. Luckily I was going very slowly and didn’t fall off completely, but I was knocked into the road holding the bike up with one knee. If there was anything coming I would have been run over.
The impact of the first pothole blew both fork seals.
“I did a bit of investigation on www.potholes.co.uk and found there were 17 successful claims for the same three potholes, so Surrey County Council knew they were bad. I filled out the claim forms (fixing the forks cost £250) and also sent a Freedom of Information request about their maintenance policy so I could prove it was inadequate.
“When I rang in April to ask why they hadn’t even acknowledged my claim, I also asked about the potholes. Their system hadn’t even registered them. But I knew they’d done a temporary repair, which was already breaking up.
“By September I still hadn’t been paid, and then got a letter from the council saying they were passing on the claim to the road contractor. I eventually got paid a few weeks later. And by October they still hadn’t fixed the potholes properly.”
What needs to happen
Nick’s story is not unusual. But don’t assume your voice has no weight – join it with thousands of other bikers’ by signing the MCN ‘Save our Roads’ petition now!
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