One in seven bikers injured or their motorcycles damaged by potholes

The findings were presented to the Scrutiny Committee at Kent County Council by Kent IAM member Andrew Farley

BIKERS are “putting their lives at risk” when they drive on Kent’s roads due to the amount of potholes.

That’s according to member of the Kent Advanced Motorcyclists Group, Nicholas Farley, who wrote to the Scrutiny Committee at Kent County Council after discovering that one in seven Kent IAM members had suffered injury and/or motorcycle damage due to hitting a pothole while riding.

His letter, which was read out by Liberal Democrat Councillor Trudy Dean at a meeting on Friday, stated that judgement about road condition was made with cars and larger vehicles in mind, but “what is simply uncomfortable for a car driver, and even unnoticeable to a lorry driver, can cause a motorcyclist to have an accident”. He wrote of how “frightening” and “dangerous” these potholes were to motorcyclists.

Farley also compared the state of Europe’s roads, which he claims are much better kept and “much easier to ride…” because “one is able, in general, to rely on there not being a deep pothole hiding round a corner”.

Andrew Loosemore, the deputy director of highways, told councillors that roads in Kent are checked to ensure safety. However, an asset management report from his team contradicted this. “The current and forecasted position for road asset management is grave; we are undoubtedly in a prolonged period of asset decline,” it stated.

“The current annual allocation for planned road maintenance is around £13 million (not including reactive capital pothole and patching spend) and if that remains unchanged we will see significant deterioration in road condition over the next 10 years.”

While councillors reportedly sympathised with Mr Farley’s comments, Matthew Balfour said “the main problem with this is money”, with the council forced to make cutbacks regarding all areas of life including hospitals and public health.

Councillor Dean claimed the safety of roads is “the biggest issue for residents in Kent” and portfolio holder for highways, Mike Whiting said that the council are putting pressure on Westminster to provide more funding for highways.

He commented: “My plan is to make a preventative approach which will not only stop this from happening but also provide long term solutions and in return will benefit taxpayers at the end of the day.”

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Farley’s full letter read: “I am a motorcyclist. I ride in all weather throughout the year and cover between 8-10,000 miles a year on a motorbike in the UK and Europe, but principally in Kent.

“Far too often it seems that judgements about what constitutes a ‘safe’ road are made only from the point of view of the driver of a car or larger vehicle; there does not seem to be any real understanding of how difficult and dangerous it can be to navigate Kent’s roads on two wheels.

“You may well ask why a motorcyclist should bother about hitting a pothole, after all car drivers do it all the time and apart from being shaken up everything is OK.

“The answer is that a pothole that is simply uncomfortable for a car driver, and even unnoticeable to a lorry driver, can cause a motorcyclist to have an accident.

“To hit an unavoidable pothole on a motorbike in broad daylight on a dry road is dangerous; to hit a large, unexpected pothole in the dark, on a wet night, in the middle of a corner, is very unnerving.

“To have your handlebars wrenched from your grip and to be thrown out of the saddle is more than being simply ‘uncomfortable’, it is, at the very least, frightening and it can be very dangerous.

“It is, incidentally, interesting to note how much easier it is to ride in most European countries where the roads are in much better condition and one is able, in general, to rely on there not being a deep pothole hiding round a corner.”

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