Potholes - what they are and how to report them



Riding a pothole-filled road can be frustrating – turning a gentle commute into a bone-shaking ordeal to rival the famous Paris-Roubaix race. Luckily there is something you can do to help get potholes fixed!

Transport for London have a useful tool on their website, where you can report potholes (they call it a ‘road defect’) as well as anything else which might spoil your commute, like obstructions, or rubbish on the roads. You can drop a pin onto a map, or specify a postcode.

For minor roads, fixing potholes is the responsibility of the council, and TfL will pass your information on to them. On the roads that TfL own, (identified by double red lines), they prioritise what to fix based on the risk it causes – they say that road defects should be repaired within 24 hours, 7 days, or 28 days depending on severity – it’s certainly worth keeping track of when things do get fixed.

On TfL roads, within 1.5 metres of a kerb, or in a cycle lane, a pothole only has to be 2cm deep over 100cm2 to be classified as a ‘defect’ – and there are lots of other problems that qualify. If you are interested in the exact definition of a pothole, then there is a lot more information here.

It’s also worth knowing that you can report potholes and defects on cycle tracks and shared paths - the size of pothole considered a defect is the same as on the roads, and cracks and gaps can also be considered as defects.

If you do have an accident because of a pothole you can claim compensation. Councils aren’t required to maintain the roads as ‘bowling green flat’, but they are liable for defects that are ‘a danger' to road users. However, councils can avoid this if they inspect roads regularly but weren’t aware of the defect – by reporting potholes you can make sure that they do know about them! Of course, they should get fixed before they cause any damage – and you will get to enjoy that great feeling of zipping along a newly smoothed road.