Cycling Injuries: The Danger of Potholes

Riding a bicycle is a great way to get around, stay healthy, and reduce your carbon footprint. Unfortunately, cyclists may face many dangers on the UK roads, not least of which are potholes.

Potholes can cause serious injury or even death for cyclists who don’t take the necessary precautions when navigating them. In this article, we will discuss the risk posed by potholes and what you can do to avoid them.

What Causes Potholes?

Potholes are created when water gets into cracks in the road and expands, causing them to break apart. Poor road maintenance can also contribute to pothole formation.

Hitting a pothole on a bicycle at high speed can be catastrophic, throwing the rider off balance and potentially causing serious injury or death.

Potholes can also cause tires to become damaged or flat, leaving the cyclist stranded. If you’re on a dark country road, your mobile phone has run out of battery, and no one’s expecting you home anytime soon, being stuck after losing a tyre can be a real concern.

Why Are Potholes So Dangerous For Cyclists?

Cyclists are particularly vulnerable to the dangers of potholes.

When riding a bicycle, you don’t have the protection of a steel frame, proper suspension, and airbags like you would in a car or other motorized vehicle.

Furthermore, cyclists will often ride at higher speeds than cars on roads that are usually poorly maintained. This makes them more likely to hit potholes and suffer the consequences.

While it isn’t your fault, hitting a pothole at speed can result in serious injuries and, in some instances (particularly if you aren’t wearing the right safety equipment), in death or long-term disability.

If you’ve experienced a cycling injury due to hitting a pothole, you may be able to claim compensation. Speak to a specialist cycling injury lawyer at Cycle SOS at no initial cost to you.

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    Tips On Spotting A Pothole As A Cyclist

    While avoiding potholes can sometimes be extremely difficult, there are some tips and tricks you can use to avoid injury or damage to your bicycle.

    1. Pay attention to the road ahead. Scan for any irregularities in the surface that could indicate a pothole.
    2. Keep an eye out for other cyclists who may have encountered a pothole and are signaling you or pointing it out. While this will be an extremely rare occurrence, you’d be surprised how friendly people in
    3. Slow down when approaching areas where potholes are likely to form, such as sharp corners and bumpy roads.
    4. Turn on your lights in low-light conditions so that you can spot potholes sooner.
    5. Wear a helmet and other protective gear when cycling, especially in areas where potholes are common.

    How To Ride Safely Over A Pothole

    If you do encounter a pothole that is impossible to avoid, there are a few tips you can use to navigate it safely:

    • Slow down and prepare for the impact of the pothole.
    • Shift your weight over the back wheel, allowing the front wheel to absorb most of the shock.
    • Keep your hands on the handlebars, with your elbows slightly bent to absorb some of the impact.
    • Stay in a low, aerodynamic position to reduce the risk of falling off.

    What Kinds of Protective Gear Do I Need When Riding Over A Pothole?

    There is no one-size-fits-all answer to this question as the level of protective gear you need will depend on the severity of the impact and your own personal risk tolerance.

    However, we would recommend at a minimum that all cyclists wear a bicycle helmet when riding, regardless of the terrain. Other items of protective gear such as elbow and knee pads can also help to reduce the impact and risk of injury should you hit a pothole.

    How Can I Avoid Dangerous Roads With Deep Potholes?

    Unfortunately, sometimes you just can’t. If your ride home is on a country road with a lot of potholes and you can’t avoid it, slow down and take extra precautions.

    Where possible though, try to stick to populated areas and roads that are well-maintained. If you’re cycling for leisure, research the route in advance or look up reviews from other cyclists who have ridden it before.

    And if you manage to spot a particularly dangerous pothole, report it to your local council so that they can take action and repair it.

    How Do I Report Dangerous Potholes To My Local Council?

    If you’ve noticed a particularly dangerous pothole that you think warrants attention, most local councils have forms on their websites where they can be reported.

    In some cases, you may even be able to take a photograph of the pothole and upload it alongside your report. This evidence can also help your cyclist’s pothole claim.

    Depending on the severity of the situation, the council will send out an inspector to assess the pothole and decide what action needs to be taken.

    Of course, it is always best to avoid potholes in the first place, but if you do come across one, these tips can help you stay safe. Slow down, pay attention to road conditions, and wear the right protective gear.

    It’s also worth noting that some councils in the UK are notoriously slow to deal with potholes, so if you do spot a particularly dangerous pothole, it is worth reporting it and following up with the council.

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    Cycling Injuries: The Danger of Potholes — Bike Hacks