Tuesday, October 18, 2011

Update–reporting a Highways problem

Tuesday, 18th October: Some of my posts will go out of sequence, partly because I have lagged behind and partly because of the speedy response I got to my reporting of a Highways problem to Cambridgeshire County Council.

A quick recap. Headlake Drove lies on the road between Upware and Swaffham Prior. It is a country lane, not well used, but does see some commuter traffic, as well as tractors and lorries carrying agricultural haulage, from sugar beet to beetroot. here is a Google view of the road looking back from the Split Drove crossroads in the Swaffham Prior/White Fen direction.

View Larger Map

This road also does duty as part of the Lodes Way, a cycle/walking route from Bottisham through to Wicken Fen using a combination of traffic free cycle ways and minor public roads.  It also forms part of the National Cycle Network Route (NCN) 11.

Last year it was re-surfaced during September 2010. These fen roads suffer from shrinkage of the underlying soil (peat) and end up as undulating roads.  As it happens they are not a problem for cyclists as the undulations are reasonably gentle. If a motor vehicle is driven too quickly they can cause problems with the car/van bouncing in time to the undulations – a phenomenon known as resonance.

In this picture taken during the road works you can see how the road undulates and it seems that the roadworks were designed to fill in those gaps.  I think that i commented at the time that as a cyclist I would prefer to have seen the dips remain. They slow down the motor traffic!

Here was the warning given prior to the roadworks – some nice undulations.

Fast forward to a recent ride and large cracks had reappeared near the edges of the road. These cracks seem to had opened up and I can’t imagine them getting any better over the Winter. What worries me is that a cyclists wheels could easily get caught in the cracks and throw the cyclist off.  Since this forms part of the National Cycle Network then you would expect to see a reasonable number of cyclists use it.

My guess is that the road has slowly been widened, some of these roads were originally laid as concrete slabs. As the road has been widened the foundations at the edge are not the same as the foundations in the middle and so it cracks.

I filled in a pothole report yesterday and almost immediately got an acknowledgement email. So far so good. This morning I got another email -  the status is that the problem has been “Closed”. No explanation of why, has it been fixed in the intervening period between me seeing it and me reporting it. Or is it scheduled to be fixed, or is it going to be left unfixed because it is not seen as a safety hazard to cyclists? Who knows – all I can say is I am pretty underwhelmed with the problem reporting system.

The system seems to have been optimised for speed of non-response rather than effective communication. So much for the “Big Society”. Before I do anything else I must pop over and have a look at it to see whether it has been fixed and make a better assessment of the problem.

One thing if a cyclist does have an accident as a result and they haven’t been fixed at least the Council is on notice.



  1. Swaffham Bulbeck cyclistOctober 18, 2011 at 4:10 PM

    That crack in your last photo was certainly there on Sunday afternoon as I had a go at riding along the narrow strip to the left of it! It's possible - just about. I doubt if they would have fixed it since Sunday- seems like a fob off to me to just say 'closed'.

  2. Thank you - you've confirmed my suspicions. I will pop over and take some pictures with my wheel on the crack to get a sense of just how bad it is, along with other cracks on the road. I might then try the CTC reporting route. In fact I will try one that allows pictures to be uploaded.