On your bike - but mind the potholes

I'M no great cyclist but I have got on my bike to cycle into town a couple of times over recent weeks, both times on a Sunday.

Paul Geater

I'M no great cyclist but I have got on my bike to cycle into town a couple of times over recent weeks, both times on a Sunday.

I don't use the major routes - but do go on “secondary” routes on the way into the town centre to avoid most of the traffic.

And being on two wheels has given me a real insight into the appalling state of the roads in the town - there are so many potholes which appear to be neglected.

Modern cars with good suspension can drive over them with few problems, but if you are on a bike they are a real hazard.

If the councils want to encourage more people (like me) to use their bikes more, they have to make cycle routes more attractive . . . and safer.

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Much of my route was a designated cycle route with blue signs, but that doesn't encourage the councils to ensure that the roads are pothole-free.

Of course part of the problem with this is that the responsibility for maintaining the road is split between the borough and county councils.

It is the borough that actually maintains the roads - but uses money provided by the county.

The borough's transport spokesman Paul West accepted that some of the roads were not as good as he would like.

The county, he said, only gives the borough enough to meet a minimum standard - meaning that potholes are only filled in if they are a certain size.

I don't know if the potholes I encountered met that criterion. I do know that if I had ridden through them I'd have had to pay extra attention to controlling my bike.

Roads are, of course, an issue where the split between the borough and county council really does come into sharp focus.

The current situation allows both authorities to adopt a “not me, guv” approach when problems arise - with some justification.

That does, however, leave the average voter feeling frustrated and a tad irritated. If there's something wrong we want to know who is responsible. Who can take the decision to make things right?

It's a small point - and for most of the time the potholes in the road might not seem like a major issue.

But if we want to encourage people to leave their cars at home and find other ways of getting into town, then things must be made as easy as possible.

That means making the road surface as good as possible - spending money on signs showing a cycle route is all very well, but it's no substitute for making the route itself useable.

- Who was the genius that marked a cycle route going straight up Bramford Road hill when there are plenty of flatter routes into town? Clearly no one who had ever got into the saddle!

- SOMETIMES you don't know whether to feel sorry for David Cameron or just roll your eyes as yet more sleaze allegations start coming in about Conservative MPs and MEPs.

Giles Chichester resigned as leader of the party's MEPs, fellow Eurocrats Den Dover and Robert Atkins have come under the spotlight about their use of financial rules, and party chairman Caroline Spelman's employment of her nanny as a parliamentary aide has been questioned.

All of the allegations are murky. There is no smoking gun, and certainly any irregularities are very minor compared with the sleaze allegations that helped sink John Major's government.

But any reminder of the Tories' past as the “sleazy” party is just the opposite of what Mr Cameron needs now that they are riding high in the polls.

It has been significant that Labour politicians have been very silent over the issue - no doubt mindful of the police investigation into the cash for honours row which reached its climax last year.

Will these allegations make any difference to the Tories' poll standing - or will it merely confirm the view of many people that all politicians are sleazeballs anyway!

- BORIS Johnson's first act as mayor of London was to ban drinking on the Underground.

Wasn't it good to see a band of drunken louts going out to protest about this ban as soon as it was introduced?

Seriously, though, I was amazed it was ever legal to drink on the Underground. Who on earth would want to?

I can't help feeling that anyone who was desperate for a drink on a comparatively short journey (after all the Underground is not used for long trips) must have a serious alcohol problem!