potholes

Potholes create hazard and expense for drivers and cyclists alike

An early 'freeze/thaw cycle' has contributed to a near-doubling of the number of potholes repaired this year

It may be spring, but Torontonians are still being tormented by winter’s potholes.

“I’ve seen a spike of 50 per cent (more damage on vehicles from potholes) this year in comparison to last year,” said Steve Perusits, owner of the Leaside Master Mechanic on Laird Drive, in a recent interview.

“With potholes, it will start to wear out the Teflon. It sounds like your whole front end is starting to fall out of your car, just from the jolt of the actual pothole.”

Those repairs can get expensive.

“We had one gentleman come in with a new fairly new BMW and had to replace three rims and two tires because of potholes,” Perusits said. “The rims were $700 apiece.”

Drivers are not the only ones affected.

A lot of the roads are unsafe for cyclists,” said avid cyclist Adam Hotchin. “Potholes tend to appear on the right-hand side of the road, which means cyclists are forced over to the left side of the lane. This puts drivers and cyclists in conflict with the road, and it’s dangerous for everybody.”

Frequent cold spells and pressure from vehicles add to the predicament.

We experienced an earlier-than-usual freeze/thaw cycle,” explained Cheryl San Juan of the city’s engineering and construction services department.

“Potholes are created when water penetrates the top layer of asphalt through cracks in the road. After the moisture freezes and expands, sections of the pavement are forced up. The weight of vehicles going over this section of road breaks the pavement and the asphalt is forced out.” 

From Jan. 1 to March 27, the city fixed 117,613 potholes, San Juan said. That’s almost twice as many as last year at this time.

City crews usually take 15 to 20 minutes to repair each pothole, according to the City of Toronto website.

However, cyclist Hotchin feels that some of the smaller potholes that affect bike riders are not fixed fast enough. 

“The city is usually quick to repair potholes that are deep enough to damage cars, but potholes that concern cyclists can be left for weeks or months,” he said.