Letter to The Times: Fix potholes but don’t build new roads

It is excellent that The Times is highlighting the nation’s difficulties with transport as it is a neglected area of policy. Fundamental solutions are needed. Almost all transport planners think that there is only one way to rationalise our transport system: road pricing. It would of course have to include calibration to ensure that people pay more at peak times and that rural driving is cheaper than it is now, as it would replace fuel duty.

Second, there is widespread recognition of the futility of spending money to build more roads. A quarter of a century ago a report by an obscure transport committee (Sactra) led by Professor Phil Goodwin clearly proved that any new road capacity fills up quickly because it lures more people to drive. Hence governments cannot build themselves out of congestion. All that money on new and wider roads and grandiose rail projects such as HS2 would be better spent on more frequent bus services, urban tram schemes, improved cycle facilities and filling in potholes.

  • Mark

    Good letter.

    Parents’ car was recently damaged by driving into 6″ deep pothole, that council had known about for weeks.

    After 4 requests council finally sent them a 12-page claim form, requiring all sorts of totally irrelevant info, with the obvious aim of deterring any claims.

    Disgraceful shirking of responsibility.

  • Paul Holt

    Worth watching the Giro d’Italia highlights (Freeview 37 – Quest), if only to marvel at the absence of potholes over each stage’s route.

  • John P Hughes

    Cyclists really suffer from patched and potholed roads, because bicycles transmit the ridges and dips in roads to the rider, and one rides closer to the kerb than cars drive most of the time – where the potholes, drain-covers, and litter and dirt are found. Clean and well-maintained roads boost cycling: the present state of roads deters it.