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.