For almost as long as there have been roads, there have been holes in roads. The inevitable result of the freezing and thawing of water in the road surface, combined with the regular going over by heavy wheels, these itinerant irritants have been annoying us for thousands of years. Bikesure, the free-thinking insurance broker, takes a look at the wonderful world of badly maintained roads.
London is the home of The Pothole Gardener, who has been spreading the guerrilla gardening gospel for a few years now. Creating tiny gardens in disregarded parts of the urban landscape is a cute enough way of drawing attention to potholes, although for the most part they are a temporary distraction rather than a long-term solution.
Photographers have also found inspiration in the bottom of potholes. When Davide Luciano damaged his car on one of New York’s many damaged roads he was inspired to take a series of pictures reimagining the ubiquitous holes as dinner plates, dog grooming salons, and entrances to Wonderland.
His work may have gone on to inspire Lithuania’s artistic/outdoor experience group Z999, who this year took a series of photos humourously highlighting the poor state of Lithuanian roads.
If you’re ever in Paris and you find tightly wound wool wedged in a crack in the floor, you’ve discovered the work of artist Juliana Santacruz Herrera. There’s definitely something about potholes that inspires a certain kind of creative mind, the meeting of transient urban features and the contrast of things that shouldn’t be where they are is a fertile area for creation.
Winning the award for the most effort involved is Chicago native Jim Bachor, who has taken to installing mosaics in his hometown’s pitted and scarred roads. In terms of sustained effort and craft he clearly wins the artistic pothole crown, with the added bonus that these also fulfil the purpose of actually fixing the problem!
Bachor’s work is reminiscent of a mysterious phenomenon known as the Toynbee tiles, mysterious and crazy messages that have been placed onto roads around the world since the 1980s. While theories have been proposed the source of these tiles remains a mystery to this day. An ongoing mystery, with reports of new tiles being discovered occurring all the time.
Obviously, while these artistic responses are a bit of fun that doesn’t change the fact that potholes pose a real risk to road users, especially those on two wheels. Indeed, bikers are at the vanguard of the campaign to get the government to upgrade our disintegrating roads. Pressure group Bikers Against Potholes and Mark Morrell, known as Mr Pothole are amongst some of the loudest voices calling for action. There are also a number of sites that let you report holes directly to your local authority. And if those fail, you can always make them look pretty – but make sure your activity is legal!