Report Street Hazards – Persistence Can Pay Off

Potholes, cracked pavement, and drain grates–oh my!  Not only are these street conditions annoying, they can be hazardous to your cycling health.  So what’s a bicyclist to do about these street hazards?  Report them!

I know of two websites that are designed to report street hazards:  Bicycle Watchdog and Bikewise.  The first site limits its services to Washington State, the second claims to serve the world. Both sites require you to create an account in order to submit a report and both promise to forward your report to the responsible jurisdiction.  It’s difficult to tell how successful either of these reporting sites are, but it’s always worth submitting a report as both of these sites serve as hazard databases.
The surest way to eliminate a known street hazard is to report it to the jurisdiction yourself.  Where to start?  You need to find the department that handles street maintenance–usually called Public Works, Roads or Transportation.  Bicycle Watchdog has a list of jurisdiction contacts so this might make a good starting point.
Some communities make it easy to report quick-fix hazards like cracks and potholes.  Spokane has a Pothole Hotline, 509.625.7733.  In Yakima you can report a pothole by calling 509.575.6005.  You can report street hazards in Seattle, Vancouver and Everett by using an online submission form.
I live in Seattle and, in the past 5 years, I have reported several street problems along my commute–a linear pavement crack, a pothole, and a traffic signal that didn’t detect my bike.  The pothole was filled in a few days; the other two problems required additional follow up on my part before getting fixed.  But they did get fixed within 4-6 weeks.
Have you reported a street hazard in your community?  Tell us your story.
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