Every mile of road 'has 10 potholes'

Britain has a pothole crisis and the nation's roads must be made safer, according to Olympic cyclist Victoria Pendleton.

The latest figures show that an average of around 10 potholes dot every mile of road in England and Wales, and the total number will pass two million for the first time this year.

Cyclists are now being deterred from using their bikes because of poor road surfaces, Miss Pendleton said.

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"Following more bad weather this winter, potholes are still a serious problem for road users, particularly people cycling to work or school, cycling for fun, keeping fit, or even cycling professionally," she said.

"We have to make our roads safer and more accessible for cyclists who often lack confidence to ride their bikes in and around urban areas because of poor road surfaces."

Her comments follow warnings that councils will struggle to repair potholes because of a 165m shortfall in funding.

The Local Government Association, which represents around 350 councils, said highways departments will be hit by cuts as they begin to survey the damage exacerbated by the worst December weather in a century.

According to the Asphalt Industry Alliance, every mile of local authority-owned road in England and Wales will have 10 potholes.

The organisation, which produces a yearly report on the roads, said the number of potholes could reach two million by the spring.

"This is a very serious issue. Cyclists and motorcyclists are the road users most vulnerable to accidents caused by potholes," the alliance's Helen Melhuish said.

"If central government provided more funding to help get local roads back into reasonable condition, local authorities would be better able to implement their planned preventative maintenance programmes, rather than wasting already stretched funds on reactively filling potholes."

Miss Pendleton, 30, is supporting an awards scheme to judge UK councils on repairs to potholes which occur when water repeatedly freezes and expands in cracks in the road.

She said: "I'm getting involved because anything that showcases pothole repairs and encourages councils to improve their roads has to be a good thing."