Cyclists’ legal threat over potholed roads

Martyn Bolt .  Cyclist Martyn Bolt  at Langsett
Martyn Bolt . Cyclist Martyn Bolt at Langsett

A CYCLISTS’ organisation is threatening Sheffield Council with legal action over the condition of roads in the Peak District countryside.

The Cyclists’ Defence Fund, a charity set up to challenge legal issues affecting cyclists, has served a notice on Sheffield Council’s highways department that it considers one of its iconic routes to be ‘out of repair’.

The action, brought on behalf of the charity by trustee Martyn Bolt, relates to Strines Moor in the Peak District.

The route linking the A616 from Langsett to the A57 at Ladybower has been used in stages of the Tour of Britain and is likely to feature in Sheffield’s proposal to host part of the Tour de France during 2016.

Mr Bolt claims in some places it is impossible to cycle without hitting a pothole and, with gradients up to one in four, his charity fears for road users’ safety.

“This is not a request solely for cyclists but also motor cyclists, and car drivers who use Strines.”

The action has been launched using a little-known part of the law, section 56 of the Highways Act 1980, under which anyone can ask that the highway authority takes action on a road that is ‘out of repair.’Failure can lead to a magistrates court hearing.

The council admitted it is responsible for the road.

It said: “Strines Moor and Upper Midhope Village roads are inspected on a regular basis and repairs undertaken to defects that exceed safety intervention levels. These are currently defined as a trip or pot hole with a vertical trip height of 20mm or more, in locations which could be considered to be hazardous.”

Mr Bolt said: “I would invite the head of Sheffield highways to join me on a cycle ride across Strines moor. When they hit a 20mm hole, of which there are many, going downhill, in the wet they will perhaps have a different perspective”

The council has four months to take remedial action or it could face a court hearing.

Road repairs on Strines Moor were criticised in April when taxi driver Carl Graham, of Ecclesfield, found a newly-repaired pothole on Mortimer Road with a rabbit’s body sticking out.

John Charlton, director of Sheffield Council’s Street Force service, said: “We will inspect the road at Strines Moor and we will carry out any necessary repairs to ensure the road is safe for everyone, including cyclists.”

The Council hoped roads in the Strines area would be vastly improved after work starts next year on the £1.2bn Private Finance Initiative contract to resurface all roads.