Britain has a pothole crisis and the nation's roads must be made safer, Olympic cyclist Victoria Pendleton said today.
According to the latest figures, an average of around 10 potholes dot every mile of road in England and Wales, and the total number will pass two million for the first time this year.
Cyclists are now being deterred from using their bikes because of poor road surfaces, Miss Pendleton said.
"Following more bad weather this winter, potholes are still a serious problem for road users, particularly people cycling to work or school, cycling for fun, keeping fit, or even cycling professionally," she said.
"We have to make our roads safer and more accessible for cyclists who often lack confidence to ride their bikes in and around urban areas because of poor road surfaces."
Her comments follow warnings that councils will struggle to repair potholes because of a £165 million shortfall in funding.
The Local Government Association, which represents around 350 councils, said highways departments will be hit by cuts as they begin to survey the damage exacerbated by the worst December weather in a century.
According to the Asphalt Industry Alliance, every mile of local authority-owned road in England and Wales will have 10 potholes.
The organisation, which produces a yearly report on the roads, said the number of potholes could reach two million by the spring.
"This is a very serious issue. Cyclists and motorcyclists are the road users most vulnerable to accidents caused by potholes," the alliance's Helen Melhuish said.
"If central government provided more funding to help get local roads back into reasonable condition, local authorities would be better able to implement their planned preventative maintenance programmes, rather than wasting already stretched funds on reactively filling potholes."
Miss Pendleton, 30, is supporting an awards scheme to judge UK councils on repairs to potholes which occur when water repeatedly freezes and expands in cracks in the road.
She said: "I'm getting involved because anything that showcases pothole repairs and encourages councils to improve their roads has to be a good thing for both cyclists and motorists.
The top performing councils will meet Miss Pendleton and receive awards at a presentation in May.
Construction company Aggregate Industries has launched the scheme with CTC, the national cyclists' organisation.
The FillThatHole website, created by CTC in 2007, receives an average of 29 pothole reports a day. So far, it has passed 43,000 reports of road defects to the relevant highway authority.
Transport Minister Norman Baker said: "We know how important it is that local roads are well maintained. That is why, despite the need to make in-year budget reductions, we have protected day-to-day funding for local road maintenance this year.
"We will invest £3 billion in maintenance over the next four years as well as spending £6 million to help local authorities make their road maintenance programmes as efficient and effective as possible.
"However, local councils should be managing their road maintenance throughout the year and in view of the last two winters we would expect winter maintenance to be a priority for them."
AA president Edmund King said: "The 2,000 participants in our AA Streetwatch survey published last week voted that potholes were their most serious concern on the roads.
"We need to see an emergency fund to help local authorities get out of this pothole crisis.
"Due to the freezing December weather, the pothole plague has come early this year.
"I was out on my bike yesterday and experienced the pothole perils first hand. Our crumbling roads are a major safety hazard in many areas."
The awards scheme is run by Aggregate IndustriesReuse content