POTHOLES, loose surfaces and polished, worn-out tarmac are the bikers’ bane. That floaty feeling as you hit a surprisingly slippery surface is enough to make the best of us pinch the seat. So the fact that roads in England have started improving has got to be good news, even if there’s still a long way to go.
The annual ‘Road Conditions in England’ survey covering 2017 has just been published, along with interactive maps to show how individual local authorities are performing. It says: “‘A’ roads and ‘B’ and ‘C’ roads combined have seen a gradual improvement (i.e. fewer roads should have been considered for maintenance) in the last five years.”
However, it cautions that unclassified roads haven’t seen a similar improvement over the same period.
The report suggests that local authorities and Highways England have been catching up on repairs, partly thanks to changes in maintenance strategies but also thanks to a succession of mild winters that have cut down on the freezing and thawing cycles that so effectively crack asphalt.
Of the roads managed by Highways England (motorways and major ‘A’ roads), the percentage that should have been considered for maintenance in 2016/7 has dropped to 2% when it comes to motorways and 4% for ‘A’ roads.
Local authority managed A roads have dropped from 5% that should have been considered for maintenance in 2011/12 to 3% in 2016/7. For ‘B’ and ‘C’ roads there’s been a similar decrease, from a high of 10% in 2011/12 to 6% in 2016/17.
However, unclassified ‘U’ roads are not doing so well. In 2016/17 17% are fall into the ‘should have been considered for maintenance’ category.
Over the 2016/17 period, 7.6% of local authority ‘A’ roads were given repairs, as well as 4.3% of minor (‘B’, ‘C’ and ‘U’ roads).
The proportion of Highways England roads that were under par in skid-resistance testing also fell, but remains high. For ‘A’ roads it’s 19%, while for motorways its 5% (down from 26% and 10% respectively the previous year). For local authority managed roads, the picture is worse, with 27% of local authority ‘A’ roads falling into the category of ‘requiring further investigation’ for skid resistance.
The interactive maps to compare how different areas fared can be found here.