City cyclists keep a watchful eye with arrival of pothole season

With the arrival of spring in Winnipeg there comes abundant potholes on our city streets. While these breaks in the road come as an annoyance to drivers, potholes may pose a dangerous risk to cyclists.

“Cyclists are required to ride as close to the edge as possible, but when potholes occur, especially the ones that are full of water, you don’t know what’s underneath them, you now have to go into traffic. It becomes a safety issue,” said Ron Brown, executive director of the Manitoba Cycling Association.

Anders Annell, co-ordinator of UMREG, said most cyclists find potholes on the routes of their daily commutes.

“You dodge them and get into the way of the cars, more or less. That can be a bit of hazard, but they exist for all sorts of reasons. Road construction and the seasons have the most to do with it,” said Annell.

According to the City of Winnipeg website, most potholes are caused by the freezing and thawing that occurs in the spring.

“During warmer weather, the snow melts, causing water to seep into the cracks in the pavement and/or sub base. When the temperature drops, the water freezes and causes the sub base to expand. This puts pressure on the pavement in a small area, resulting in pavement failure or a pothole,” reads the website.

According to a City of Winnipeg March 12 press release, due to a steady melt this season, there appears to be fewer potholes this year compared to last year.

In the press release, Bruce McPhail, manager of the streets maintenance division said, “This year we are not seeing those same types of conditions and at this time, Public Works is expecting fewer than average potholes based on the steady rate that the snow is melting. [ . . . ] Although the situation appears to be favourable at this time, the situation can potentially change if the weather becomes unfavourable.”

Annell said he is aware of certain potholes that have been filled multiple times.

“They’re certainly trying, but it’s just a matter of the seasons having to end before it can fully be done [ . . . ] but they certainly could always maybe do a better job with road construction in the first place, if there’s material that’s more resistant to potholes.”

According to John Danakas, University of Manitoba public affairs director, all campuses located in a similar climate to ours face similar issues.

“Physical Plant’s general services crew fills in pot holes on campus with a cold patch. A number have been patched already and an additional supply of cold patch was received this week. [ . . . ] More permanent street repairs are tendered out during the summer.”

According to Brown, “The other issue cyclists have is that not everyone is a fair-weather cyclist, so there are lots of cyclists who use their bikes all year round and they don’t have the option of waiting until pothole season is over.”

Potholes on campus can be reported by calling the Physical Plant work order desk at 474-6281.