Saturday, March 20, 2010

Cyclist's Flower Power Spreads the Love

Potholes are worse this year thanks to the freezing weather, but one man has taken an unusal approach by planting primroses. Pete Dungey has been tirelessly ridding Oxford of its potholes by filling potholes with primroses.

Photograph: Pete Dungey
I read once that the best way to tackle a muddy path full of puddles when on a mountain bike was to take a leap of faith and plough straight through the middle of them, but is not a technique to be employed in rush hour when faced with what looks like a puddle but which is, in fact, a water-filled pothole. Fixing a blown out front tyre with nail varnish and a plaster is a story for another day
The pothole situation has worsened dramatically this winter when water which had seeped into cracks in the road then froze, opening them up. There's been a substantial spike in reports but councils are taking notice and acting upon it, filling them in. The problem is they can't get everywhere to find them in the first place. About30-40% of the holes that are reported are dealt with.

But one man has had enough. And he's using flowers to prove it. Forget stuffing them down the barrels of guns, Pete Dungey has been tirelessly ridding Oxford of its potholes by filling them up with primroses. "It began as part of a project called 'subvert the familiar'," says the graphic design student. "I wanted to do something that would grab attention but also raise awareness of an issue, and so the project was born. I have been planting the gardens for about a fortnight now and see it as an ongoing thing."

"Potholes are a big problem that could be eradicated quite simply. Hopefully it's something that grabs attention and raises awareness although I wouldn't call myself a renegade cyclist." Pete currently works alone but he's hoping other people will follow his example. If you do, he's asking you to take a snap and email it to him via his website.

As a mountain biker I'm all in favour of practising my swerving skills before work, zig-zagging between pot holes. Roger, however, has some more useful advice for urban cyclists: "Firstly, try not to go through any puddles. But more importantly – and certainly more importantly than usual – don't hug the kerb, because that's where most of them are."

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