As bike commuters, many of us often take the same route day after day and avoid the same cracks, potholes and tree branches day after day.
That was the case with a pothole on Mountain Avenue a few blocks north of the University of Arizona. The pothole stretched the entire width of the bike lane and forced cyclists to move into traffic to avoid it.
I used the SeeClickFix.com application to submit the hole, but it took more than a year for the city to do anything. In fact, it was only after I called the Mayor’s chief of staff Andrew Greenhill that the hole was addressed, partially. Maybe it was the power of the press? A newspaper gets a pothole fixed. A blog gets half the hole fixed.
Here are a few tips offered by Greenhill as well as my own experience on how to get hazards fixed:
1. Report it: The city offers several ways to report roadway issues.
• SeeClickFix.com: The first way to report the issue is to use SeeClickFix.com, a website the city partnered with a little over a year ago to make it easy for the public to report road issues.
You can report problems on their website, through a smartphone application which uses GPS and easily allows you to upload a photo. Lastly, SeeClickFix just launched a Facebook application, which allows you to report it on Facebook.
Greenhill said the city has received hundreds of reported issues through SeeClickFix.com since the city started working with the site.
He said when the city receives a report from SeeClickFix, it is entered into the software system the city uses to track maintenance issues.
• Pothole hotline: Greenhill said most people are still using the maintenance hotline to report street issues. The number is 520-791-3154
• Email: You can also email the transportation department with requests for street fixes. Here is the email: TDOTStreetsTrafficMaint@tucsonaz.gov
• Online bicycle spot improvement form: The city’s bicycle and pedestrian page has an online form, which allows cyclists to report road issues. The information submitted on the form is sent directly to Tom Thivener, the city’s bicycle and pedestrian program manager. Thivener said via text message that he will forward the issue onto the appropriate department. He said it doesn’t get used much, but it does help keep him informed about where the issues are in the city.
2. Follow up: The squeaky wheel gets the oil
• Vote: SeeClickFix.com has a built-in feature that allows users to vote for issues they want to see repaired. Greenhill said a report is generated each time someone votes for an issue to repaired. The votes are something they take into account.
“The more people vote for a specific issue, the more the government should take that into consideration as they put together their work schedule,” he said.
But — Greenhill warns — because of the budget, highly traveled streets will always take precedent over residential streets which fewer people use.
• Call: If you’ve reported the issue but nothing has been done, the next step is to call the council member where the hazard is located. Download a ward map to find out who you should call based on the location of the issue.
Greenhill said it is important to make sure the council member’s office knows it is a public safety issue.
“If in fact the pothole causes any vehicle — whether it is a bike or a car — to veer out of its lane to avoid it, that is a public safety hazard and that should take priority with the city,” he said.
3. Do it yourself
While not expressly allowed by the city, some issues can easily be fixed by cyclists themselves. I’ve seen a rider pull out a pair of pruning shears to trim plants that were encroaching into the bike lane on Mountain Avenue.