Cyclists: potholes could be causing more damage than you think

A recent study by Edinburgh Napier University has found that cycling on poor road surfaces can cause nerve damage.[1]

Dr Mark Taylor, a Civil Engineer who works at Edinburgh Napier University, conducted a study using a specially created bike to plan a route to help riders avoid the worst roads and highlight areas for improvement.[2] Dr Taylor commutes 12 miles a day by bicycle and argues that better surfaces are vital to encourage more people to cycle. In this view, the better the condition of the roads, the more likely we are to see an increase in cycling activity. The vibrations experienced when cycling on dilapidated roads can work their way through the cycle, up to the arms and shoulders, which could potentially lead to discomfort and harm.


Dr Taylor’s study was reaffirmed by Professor Chris Oliver, an orthopaedic hand surgeon from the Royal Infirmary of Edinburgh, who claims that the vibrations felt when cycling on these roads can lead to Hand Arm Vibration Syndrome (HAVS). This condition can lead to nerve damage and damage to the blood vessels in the hands, arms and shoulders. Ultimately, it can mean that a cyclist has to give up commuting by cycle, or partaking in a hobby that they so much enjoy.

The main areas on the study which caused the worst vibrations are those containing a higher number of potholes and cobbles. Not only can potholes and cobbles end up causing this condition, but it can result from as little as 16 minutes on some of the worst roads. The results of this study show the impact that cycling over potholes can have on your body over time.


Potholes on the road can also lead to other injuries if you get thrown from your bicycle because of one. These accidents can have a devastating effect on people’s lives and can leave people with some serious injuries. It is speculated that over time, the number of potholes on our roads will increase[3], this means that there may be an increase in the amount of injuries sustained due to potholes. Further, if there are more potholes on the road, then cyclists will face an increased risk of suffering the nerve damage as described by Dr Taylor.

In order to encourage more people to take up cycling, local authorities need to ensure that the roads are safe enough for them to do so. A failure to do so may see more and more cyclists injured and suffering lifelong conditions.


Smith Jones Solicitors have many years of experience in dealing with claims where a cyclist has been injured in an incident involving a pothole. Many of the cyclists we represent are concerned about replacing their bike and returning to the saddle after recovery, and so we use our extensive experience to help claim compensation for your injuries, your damaged bike and other damaged property. Our expert team liaise with medical professionals to get you the treatment you need following such an accident, to help you return to your normal routine.

If you have been involved in a cycle accident involving a pothole, you can call our team on our Freephone Helpline 0800 195 9590 or alternatively you can submit your details here to start a claim enquiry.


[1] Cycling Weekly, ‘Cobbles, potholes, and rough roads can cause nerve damage for cyclists, study finds’ (Published 9th October 2017) <>

[2] The Scotsman, ‘Cyclists risk nerve damage from uneven street surfaces’ (Published 8th October 2017) <>

[3] Cycle SOS, ‘More Potholes on the Horizon’ (Published 24th August 2017) <>