All cyclists have experienced instances on our favorite, and not so favorite, roads which have given us pause. Whether it is a nasty pothole, a poorly parked car or some other road hazard sometimes it can be tough sledding out there. Thankfully, with the advent of the internet, now there is something you can do.
Most cities, counties and states now have websites with contact information for reaching the people who are responsible for maintaining our roads. Sometimes, getting a problem fixed such as a pothole filled is as simple as sending an email to the appropriate person.
One of the tricks to making this all happen is finding the appropriate person. Sometimes, just because a road is in a particular city, it may be the county or even the state which has the actual responsibility for the upkeep. Hopefully you are dealing with heads-up organizations that will point you in the right direction if they are unable to help.
Unfortunately, you may also get caught in a case of passing the buck where no one wants to take responsibility. This requires you to be persistent and not to give up the first time you get the brush off. Last year a large pile of construction debris was dumped off the side of one of my favorite mountain roads. Two agencies kept passing the buck back to one another, but I hung in there for five months and one organization finally stepped forward and took responsibility to have the garbage removed.
Sometimes you have to bring in the big guns. A few years ago a road had been washed out for almost four years with no repair date in sight. I enlisted the help of my state assemblyman and state senator to get the road repaired. Providing the legislators with a detailed time line showing all important aspects of the road washout and attempts to get it repaired were instrumental in making the case for neglect.
There are a number of local bicycle advocacy organizations which might also be able to help get a road hazard fixed. Unfortunately, a lot of these organizations are mostly staffed with volunteers. If you really want to get a particular problem fixed, be ready to donate some of your own time to make the repair happen.
Getting a road hazard fixed may take a lot of determination and patience, but when the problem is finally remedied the satisfaction of knowing that you made a difference is worth all the effort.
Where to Start
If you would like to report a problem but don't know who to talk to, these people and organizations can point you in the right direction.
- Local bicycle advocacy groups
- Website of your state senator or assemblyman
- Local bike shops
- Google: Many states and counties have info online. Do a search for "how to report a road hazard" in your area.
Bruce Hildenbrand is a freelance journalist covering cycling and a host of other outdoor-related sports. Find the latest news, rumors and more on his Active Expert blog. He splits his time between Mountain View, California, Boulder, Colorado, and Europe.