JACK Frost preys on the old and the enfeebled, areas already crumbling and cracked, weakened by heavy traffic, harsh braking, and years of neglect.

Water infiltrates these weak areas, freezes and blasts the Tarmac apart. Our highways are macerated.

Jack Frost’s trail of destruction? The pothole. The origin of ‘pothole’ comes from Middle English – a pot meaning a deep pit in the earth. The word was only joined together in the early 1900s.

The French call them ‘nid de poules’ (chicken nests) – which sounds altogether too friendly for me, and is also the name of a delicious looking dessert made with chocolate, butter, cream and sugar! OYB is digressing to linguistics and food, so back to cycling.

If you talk to people who drive cars, or those who ride bikes, they will agree on one thing – their abhorrence of potholes. For motorists, potholes cause up to one in 10 mechanical failures costing £730m a year.

For cyclists encountering a pothole can cause a trip to A&E (or worse) rather than the costs of axel or suspension failure. This is another example of the hierarchy of harm that means cyclists are classified as vulnerable road users and should be treated as such.

The road from our house to the children’s school is now littered with holes, the edges of the road are degrading and cracks are deepening. Each one is a potential slip, fall or wheel trap.

We know where they are now, and can weave our way around them, but it requires hyper-vigilance on an already challenging stretch of road. The potholes cause drivers to swerve and adopt a more central position as they seek to avoid the edge of the roads.

The answer? Unfortunately, for the large part, it is a matter of money. Road maintenance nationally is underfunded by 55 per cent, approximately £1bn a year.

Even if the investment is made, it will take more than a decade to catch up.

In addition to funding, many campaigners criticise the quality of the repairs. Resurfacing a longer stretch of road properly is more cost effective in the long term. Small patch repairs always have an edge allowing water ingress.

Within our current system of spot repairs, criteria for the severity of the pothole (critical potholes have to be repaired in 24 hours, less serious ones in 28 days) should clearly prioritise vulnerable road users. If a pothole is likely to trap a bike wheel or cause a cyclist to swerve into the flow of traffic it should be prioritised.

In the meantime, a few tips for cyclists to ease the pain of travelling on our roads:

- Keep away from the gutter

- Avoid cycling through puddles and leaves that could hide a pothole

- Keep observing behind you so you know whether you have space to pull out around pothole

- If you have to ride through one, take it straight, relax your grip on the handlebars and let the bike move under you

- Report potholes to fixmystreet.com