Whilst cycling to work this week the cyclist in front swerved around a massive pothole in the road. As he did so, knowing I was behind him, he pointed out the pothole and probably helped me avoid a nasty fall. Aside from thinking “what a decent bloke”, I began to ponder how many other potholes there were on my five and a half mile journey to work.
As I was already half way into work, I started counting from there. Of course, as a seasoned Personal Injury Lawyer, I wasn’t looking for small bumps in the road. I was only going to count the full blown “actionable defects”. Those that would create significant and foreseeable danger to pedestrians and bicycle users alike and in excess of 45mm deep.
I don’t think I got more than a mile before I gave up counting as I’d already reached 100!
It won’t come as a surprise to my fellow Mancunian cyclists that I concluded that the state of Manchester’s cycle and bus lanes are shocking. Some of the potholes were well in excess of 10 cm deep and could not only unseat a cyclist but also damage a car. Many potholes were caused by repairs to previous holes where the right materials weren’t used.
Local highway authorities can use what is known as a section 58 defence, which allows them to deny a breach of its statutory obligations to maintain and repair the highway, But this is only available if it can demonstrate that there was a regular system of inspection in place and that a particular pothole (or defect) only arose between two inspection dates.
You do have to wonder however what kind of system of inspection the Council is running on this stretch of road. I will be suggesting that if they do employ inspectors to look for potholes they should search for them on foot rather than on a bike as they will have less chance of a nasty accident than those of us who cycle on them every day!