Designed for Cycling

Chris Peck's picture

Crashing into a pothole - what happened next

In 2008, I was riding to work in central London when I hit a pothole, catapulting me over the handlebars into the road. I incurred nasty facial injuries and the crash destroyed my bike. CTC's legal team forced the highway authority into admitting liability, resulting in compensation being paid out.
Chris in the pothole that brought him down

The crash happened at rush hour on a wet day. There was masses of surface water on the roads and visibility was poorer than normal.  

At the time a hotel was being constructed by the road and large construction vehicles were coming to and fro constantly. I was trying to stay well away from one of these lorries when I hit a very deep water-filled pothole, causing the front wheel on my bike to collapse and sending me face first onto the road.


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Fill that hole
Potholes are hazardous to cyclists while rough road surfaces make cycling more uncomfortable and requires more energy to ride over. Fill that hole allows you to report potholes anywhere in the country directly to the highway authority.
Sarah Walker's picture

Barriers on cycle paths

On road and off-road, there are a number of ways that cyclists can be discouraged from using a particular route. There may be natural challenges on some routes, but far more frustrating are those that have been designed in, making access for all difficult or in some cases impossible.
A chicane barrier on a path legally accessible to cyclists

Access to routes that are open to cyclists, whether in urban or rural locations, are a growing issue for those who ride adapted cycles.

There are a number of ways that access can be compromised and often a range of users are affected; those riding adapted cycles, those with pushchairs, wheelchairs or mobility scooters, for example.

While there are issues for cyclists riding two wheelers, these issues are wider still for those riding bikes which have been adapted for practical purposes, e.g. to accommodate a disability, to carry a load or a second person.

Cherry Allan's picture

Road maintenance and lighting

All road users benefit from good road maintenance and effective lighting. Cyclists, however, suffer more than most from defects in the surface, and councils don't always light cycle paths.
Cyclist reporting defect to CTC's
Headline Messages: 

Road surfaces

A rough road surface - or even a relatively minor fault in it - can make cycling not only uncomfortable, but extremely hazardous. Hitting a pothole, or swerving to avoid one can lead to loss of control, collisions and falls. Poor drainage, or sunken, raised or badly fitted drain covers can also present dangers, as can thoughtlessly installed cats eyes and road studs.

Indeed, well over 10% of the injury reports made to CTC’s Incident Line for members involve road defects.

There are all sorts of reasons for deterioration: passage of time and vehicles; harsh weather conditions; freeze/thaw; or simply neglect.

‘Street works’ carried out by statutory undertakers (e.g. water, telecom companies etc) often cause problems too – after the road surface has been broken into, repairs may not be particularly well done and not last long. What's more, there is a tendency to forget about cyclists whilst road works are actually being carried out - temporary traffic lights, for example, may not give them enough time to get past; or they may be sent on a long, relatively unsafe diversion.

Lack of funding has a lot to do with the poor state of the roads. The 2012 Alarm report (from the  Asphalt Industry Alliance) says that while there are signs that the situation in England and Wales is improving, there is still a projected annual shortfall of £800 million.


Broken glass and other debris tends to collect at the side of the road and, as this is where cyclists usually ride, is not only a puncture risk nuisance, but can cause cyclists to fall.  Regular sweeping - that doesn't forget about cycle paths away from the carriageway - is essential, therefore.

CTC's briefing on cyclists, vegetation and hedge trimmings offers some advice on what to do if you encounter a problem.


Good lighting is, obviously, important for cyclists wherever they ride. Unfortunately, councils sometimes omit to light cycle paths away from the road, usually because of the cost. Riding along unlit paths at night can be hazardous, or make people feel insecure – meaning that even routes that are otherwise well designed may not be used to their full potential.

The highway authority is responsible for highway lighting, but it can pay district councils and parish councils to carry out further work   

  • CTC takes road defects so seriously, that we offer an online reporting tool - Fill That Hole - please use it!
  • For a discussion of road defects, plus an intriguing insight into how potholes form - see Roads to Ruin, an article by CTC's Chris Peck for Cycle magazine (Dec/Jan 2011/12).
  • In 2003, CTC gave written and oral evidence to the Parliamentary Transport Committee's inquiry into local roads and pathways, explaining why maintenance is so important to cyclists. The Committee agreed.

Local authorities and Government are letting cyclists down by failing to ensure the road network is kept in a condition safe for them to use. This must be a key factor in deterring potential cyclists and in the disappointing levels of cycle use.

Local Roads and Pathways (Parliamentary Transport Committee Report on its inquiry, 2003)

CTC View (formal statement of CTC's policy): 
  • Maintenance policies should prioritise cycle routes and facilities and the 1.5m of carriageway closest to the kerbside where cyclists commonly ride.
  • The positioning of drainage, cats eyes and road studs should be planned to avoid as far as is possible: cycle lanes; the metre strip on the left side of major roads and the kerbside within one metre of the carriageway.
  • Routine maintenance including cleaning and sweeping should be timetabled in respect of all cycle facilities
  • On busy roads, gully openings should be in the kerb face, rather than on the carriageway surface.
  • The highways authority should consider cyclists whilst exercising its powers of quality control during and after street works.
  • The Codes of Practice should safeguard the interests of cyclists.
  • Fines for individual defects should be sufficient to deter large companies such as the statutory undertakers from carrying out inadequate reinstatement.
  • A safe alternative facility for cyclists and/or pedestrians should be provided where streetworks obstruct a shared path or footway.
  • Cycle speeds should be taken into account in the phasing of all temporary traffic signals.
  • The standards of reinstatement established under the 1991 Streetworks Act should be maintained.
  • Personal security should be a consideration in the provision of lighting. Any defect in street lighting should be repaired within 48 hours of notification.
  • Cycle lanes or tracks should be lit where practical.
Publication Date: 
April 2012
Cherry Allan's picture

Roads to Ruin (Cycle magazine, CTC Dec/Jan 2011/12)

Unless our potholes are properly fixed, next summer’s Olympic road race could have echoes of Paris-Roubaix’s pavé. CTC Campaigns and Policy Coordinator Chris Peck explains why UK roads are so bad.
Reporting a road defect to CTC's

Occasionally when cycling in France you will come across a road sign that says ‘Chausée déformée’, followed by a section of road that is perhaps a bit on the bumpy side or contains the occasional pothole. I’ve always found this sign hilarious. If the standards used in France were adopted in Britain, there would be many roads where this sign would have to be erected every few hundred metres over their entire length.

Cherry Allan's picture

Cycle parking (good practice)

There's hardly a destination where cycle parking isn't necessary - schools, businesses, stations, surgeries, shopping centres, to name but a few. This guide explains the best way of providing it.
Cycle parking

The importance of well designed, high quality and convenient cycle parking wherever it's needed (or potentially needed) must never be underestimated. It affects the chances of a bike being stolen or damaged; and it can even influence someone’s decision to cycle in the first place. Lampposts, railings or gutter pipes just aren't good enough.

Cherry Allan's picture

Cycle parking (Campaigning view)

It goes without saying that when people cycle somewhere, most of them will need a secure, convenient place to lock their bike for a while when they get there. Lampposts, railings or gutter pipes are simply not good enough.
Cycle parking sign
Headline Messages: 

There’s hardly a destination where cycle parking isn’t necessary – train stations, schools, surgeries, garden centres, shopping streets, to name but a few. See our guide to cycle parking for more on best practice.

CTC View (formal statement of CTC's policy): 
  • Short stay cycle parking should be based on the Sheffield stand design. Cycle lockers and more complex systems should be available at destinations where long stay parking is required.
  • Cycle parking should be located close to any entrance to required facilities. Where parking in public places is provided, such as in shopping centres and public transport interchanges it is preferable to maximise visibility to passers-by and CCTV.
  • All cycle parking facilities should have adequate lighting and if long-stay, protection from the weather.
  • The amount of good quality cycle parking in developments should be increased and cycle parking should be included in all new developments.
Publication Date: 
April 2012
Cherry Allan's picture

Cycle lanes, tracks and shared use footways

Cycle lanes, cycle tracks or shared use footways separate cyclist from traffic to varying degrees. Are they always a good thing?
Shared use footway
Headline Messages: 

Cycle lanes

  • Cycle lanes are painted on the carriageway, and the surface is often coloured red or green (the chosen colour has no significance).
  • If the painted white line is solid, it means that the lane is ‘mandatory’ and drivers have to stay out of it, but cyclists don’t have to stay within it.
  • If the white line is dotted, it means that drivers are advised not to enter the lane, but it isn’t an offence if they do. To stop stationary cars blocking an advisory lane, it is common practice for councils to introduce parking, waiting and loading restrictions, so drivers must still observe the rules that any yellow lines impose on them.
  • Unfortunately, many cycle lanes are too narrow and not well maintained (see CTC View below).
  • Research suggests that the presence of cycle lanes may encourage drivers to overtake cyclists more closely than they would if the lane wasn’t there.

Cycle tracks and shared-use footways (pavements)

  • Cycle tracks or shared use footways are off the carriageway.
  • High quality cycle tracks alongside fast, busy roads, may well be welcome, and paths through parks, along canals, rivers, old railway lines etc can supplement the road network very usefully and help encourage people to take up cycling.
  • However, cycle paths away from the road aren’t always a complete, risk-free blessing.
  • There are some groups, such as the elderly, visually impaired and those with mobility issues who oppose sharing pedestrian facilities with cyclists.

Do cyclists have to use cycle facilities?

No, they don't - and CTC has always defended the right not to do so. Our Highway Code campaign explains why. 

CTC View (formal statement of CTC's policy): 

We are currently revising and updating our views on infrastructure and these will be published in due course. In the meantime, these are extracts from CTC's current Policy Handbook (March 2004).

  • When considering the advantages of choosing cycle tracks or lanes and their design, highway authorities should refer to the hierarchy of provision. Implementation of measures higher up the hierarchy may make it easier to introduce cycle lanes or may render them unnecessary.
  • Except through protected cycle by-passes or to pass stationary traffic at junctions, the absolute minimum width for cycle lanes is 1.5 metres, but 2 metres is preferred and essential at higher speeds. Anything less than this deprives cyclists of road space and encourages traffic to pass too close.
  • Full width advisory lanes can be used on roads of any width, even the narrowest. Advisory cycle lanes should be thought of as indicators of the space cyclists need when they are being overtaken, not necessarily as exclusive space for cyclists.
  • Car parking restrictions should be introduced and enforced to keep cycle lanes clear.
  • Some local authorities have overused cyclist dismount signs. ‘Dismount’ signs are useful for pelican (not toucan) crossing sites, subways and other irresolvable design problems. White lining rather than ‘dismount’ signs should be used at side road crossings.
  • Wherever possible a cycle track should continue priority across side road junctions in order to maintain continuity for cyclists.
  • Local cyclists and pedestrians should be consulted on the impact of shared use facilities.
  • Shared use facilities could be greatly improved by using best practice in design to minimise conflict.
  • In particular, clear demarcation, would improve all shared use facilities.
  • Other improvements include: appropriate width; proximity to other users; quality of signing and markings; priority at side roads, accesses; good lighting; good maintenance and cleaning.
  • CTC encourages cyclists to be considerate of other users needs while using shared use facilities and either use a bell or give an audible call to let other users know they are coming.
Publication Date: 
April 2012
Chris Peck's picture

Are we getting to the bottom of the pothole problem?

10 April 2012
Why are our roads are in such a bad state? A report on potholes by the Government has been published today.
A pothole recently formed on an old road work site

For the last few months CTC has been on the project board of a Department for Transport review into why potholes are created and what local authorities should be doing to prevent them from occurring. 

This review concluded with three headline recommendations:


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Cherry Allan's picture

Vehicle restricted areas (VRAs)

A town or city centre that restricts motor vehicles helps create an attractive environment for walking and cycling. Visitors, shoppers and residents usually feel the benefits too. Exempting cyclists is unlikely to cause problems because they tend to ride slowly or dismount when it gets crowded.
Headline Messages: 
  • Completely car-free zones, or areas where motor vehicles are restricted at certain times of the day (shopping streets, for example) are now common in many town and city centres. There are aesthetic, environmental, safety and commercial benefits for doing this, and it also helps make cycling and walking more attractive. 
  • Research commissioned by the Department for Transport found no real reasons for excluding cyclists from pedestrian areas; in fact, it showed that cyclists tend to take the initiative and slow down or dismount when it's busy (actually, it's difficult to keep balanced on a cycle anyway when reduced to a crawling pace).
  • However, as with all shared-use areas, there are concerns that people with mobility, sight or hearing problems could be put at risk if cyclists are allowed into pedestrianised areas. These issues can be overcome through good design and suitable signposting - and usually the problems are more perceived than real.

Cyclists respond to pedestrian density, modifying their speed, dismounting and taking other avoiding action where necessary."

Cycling in Pedestrian Areas (Traffic Advisory Leaflet 9/93), Department for Transport

CTC View (formal statement of CTC's policy): 

We are currently revising and updating our views on infrastructure and these will be published in due course. In the meantime, these are extracts from CTC's current Policy Handbook.

  • Cycling should be permitted in pedestrian areas wherever possible. If pedestrian flows during peak shopping hours make this impracticable, cycling should be permitted in pedestrian areas from midnight to 10 am and 4 pm to midnight to allow usage by cycle commuters.
  • Where pedestrian areas interrupt cycle routes, safe and convenient alternative routes should be incorporated into the cycle route network maintaining the directness of the cycle route as a priority and ensuring cyclists can use the alternative safely.
Publication Date: 
April 2012
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