Only move cones into potholes if you are trained to do so, says Edinburgh Councillor

Thursday January 19th 2023


Written by Local Democracy Reporter, Donald Turvill

Edinburgh Council has urged people to stop moving traffic cones into potholes, amid a spike in complaints about the state of the city’s roads.

Pictures of pylons placed inside potholes to alert road users to avoid them have emerged on social in the past week – but the local authority has now warned against it, saying only those with “relevant training and authority” should amend traffic management.

One campaigner took a different view however, and claimed marking out dangerous craters with cones ‘may save a life’.

The number of reports has increased recently as a result of “prolonged cold weather in mid to late December followed by torrential rain,” the council said.

It added that “additional resources” were being diverted to cope with the problem.

Edinburgh resident Wilma Harper decided to take action after coming across a large pothole formed around a drain on Queensferry Road, near Drum Brae.

“I took a cone and stuck it in the hole,” she said in a Tweet to the council alongside a photo, adding there were “bits of debris” on the pavement.

Cyclist Ben Glasgow did the same on West Coates, which has been highlighted as being among the worst affected roads, after nearly falling off his bike in the dark.

He said: “I only saw it at the last second and managed to avoid it but if a less vigilant cyclist or motorcyclist had not seen that, it absolutely would have taken them off their bike and cause them serious injury if not death.

He added: “I had to stop and place a cone into the pothole.

“I can’t imagine how much chaos it would cause a driver if they hit that at speed either through damage or swerving to avoid.”

He called on the council to take action “as a matter of urgency”.

Roadworks have now commenced to resurface West Coates, which is expected to take around six weeks to complete.

Councillor Scott Arthur, Edinburgh’s transport and environment convener, warned that people moving traffic cones without the “relevant training and authority” could “pose a risk to other road users and themselves”.

He added: “Emergency road and pavement defects should be reported to our contact centre or out of hours team, who will arrange for an inspection and repair as soon as possible.

“Our roads team work extremely hard to keep the city moving, though must prioritise limited resources to the areas most in need, and aim to make safe the most severe potholes within 24 hours of it being inspected.”

However, pothole campaigner Mark Morrell said using cones to forewarn road users “may save a cyclists life”.

Mr Morrell, also known as ‘Mr Pothole’ on Twitter where he has amassed over 6,000 followers, added: “I’ve met families of cyclists who have been killed as a result of potholes. That cone may save a cyclist getting killed.

“It’s happening – people are fed up with it.

“People are taking action because they can see the danger. If the council is not going to do the job then people are going to act.”

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