Thursday, March 10, 2011

Ask and you shall receive

Now that the ice floes have retreated,  you can better see all the crap that's accumulated in the bike lanes and the giant potholes that the freeze-thaw cycle has left behind.  People curse a lot about potholes, and they can indeed be very dangerous to bikers, who are relying on the stability of two wheels instead of 4.

However, people seem to think that the city has some kind of super pothole detection powers, and that the reason a particular pothole isn't filled is because there isn't money or will to fix it.   And in this time of austerity, some places that may be true.  But all cities have pothole repair budged we can help them find the best places to spend them.  My experience in Cambridge is that the city is very responsive to people who tell them where the potholes are.  I've seen a fair number of new patches,  and it seems like they're definitely trying to keep up,  they just need our help in alerting them to locations of dangerous ones.

Yesterday I filled in an electronic "service request"  at the Cambridge DPW asking a) if it would be possible to try to sweep some of the non parking-adjacent bike lanes because they were full of debris, especially hazardous loose gravel, and reporting an especially deep pothole on Harvard St.   I got an email back by the end of the day saying that they would forward my request to the streetsweepers and the pothole filling crew.  On my way home, I noticed that the broadway bike lane, westbound at least was a LOT better- still dirty but no longer bearing a strong resemblance to a gravel parking lot.  I believe that they swept the lane within a day of getting my request!

I'll keep my fingers crossed for similar "pre-cleaning" of Mt Auburn, Eastbound Broadway and other bike lanes.  It's easy to huff under one's breath about how icky the lanes are,  but  it just goes to show,  sometimes just putting forth enough effort to ask can have wonderful results.


  1. Cambridge definitely seems to be more on the ball than Boston... but my only real gripe is when the patch winds up being as much of a bump as the pothole was a divit. Some of these repair crews should really take a few seconds and flatten out the patches :P

  2. I only wish seattle had a street sweeping schedule a la san francisco or other type places (where the cars are made to move). More often than not, when I see sweeping, care are still parked on the side of the street being treated, and so not a good sweeping is accomplished. I ride over a ton of gravel after our VERY modest 2-3 snow falls and at times have it shoot out under my bike wheel and nail the parked car to the side of me!

  3. I wanted to follow up with this post to say that I immediately filed a service request about all the debris on Sparks St in the bike lane and a few days later, it was all cleaned up. perhaps it was also because the city finally decided that the snow had melted and it was time to clean up, but either way, I was pretty happy.

    thanks for the tip!

  4. Glad to hear it JPtwins. I have noticed a general improvement in bike lanes (Trowbridge got swept last week too). Broadway at Hampshire is still a gravelly mess though, and I should send them another little note.