Along with skip lorries and Jeremy Clarkson fans, potholes are one of the scariest things a cyclist can face while riding on the road. Especially if you’re not a massively experienced rider, or if you’re cycling fast on an unfamiliar route and not expecting a tarmac abyss to appear in your bike’s path.
Tales of punctures, scary swerves into traffic and broken bones abound, and while there have been admirable efforts to get local councils to repair potholes pronto, such as the CTC’s Fill That Hole reporting service, it’s not surprising that many cyclists get cheesed off about the state of their roads on a regular basis.
So it’s good to see the pro-cycling campaigner Wanksy taking a more direct approach. A bit direct for some perhaps, but one that is already yielding results.
Wanksy has been painting penises around potholes in Ramsbottom near Manchester to draw attention to them. And according to the local paper, The Manchester Evening News, the potholes he’s daubed around have been fixed within 48 hours.
Noting that he uses non-permanent paint, he told the newspaper: “The roads of Manchester are in an appalling state, especially around Bury. I have cyclist friends who have been hospitalised. Sometimes it’s hard to know which pothole caused the damage because there are so many.”
He also said: “I wanted to attract attention to the pothole and make it memorable. Nothing seemed to do this better than a giant comedy phallus.
“It’s also speedy, I don’t want to be in the road for a long time. It seems to have become my signature. I just want to make people smile and draw attention to the problem. It seems to be working, judging from the Facebook fan page.”
As for inspiration, he said: “I’m inspired by the alternative style displayed by artists such as Grayson Perry and of course by graffiti artists like Hazer and street artists especially Banksy. It has a message that people get, but also has a bit of comedy value.”
“However, unlike these artists I want my work to be destroyed, I like it when it gets dug up and replaced with fresh tarmac.”
Unsurprisingly the local Bury council weren’t so stoked on his approach. Their spokesman said: “The actions of this individual are not only stupid but incredibly insulting to local residents.
“Has this person, for just one second, considered how families with young children must feel when they are confronted with these obscene symbols as they walk to school? Not only is this vandalism, but it’s also counter-productive.”
“Every penny that we have to spend cleaning off this graffiti is a penny less that we have to spend on actually repairing the potholes!”
Which doesn’t quite tie in with Wanksy’s comments of them being fixed quickly but then the council probably don’t want the penis problem to get out of hand so to speak.
We were also tickled by this photo series from some friends (who call themselves Z999) in Lithuania, another original and very funny response to the pothole problem.