Cycling (mixed)messages

Warning, pot hole ahead 2-cyclists injured?

Warning, pot hole ahead 2-cyclists injured?

While the city of Manor is doing it’s best to ban cyclists from it’s roads because of the poor surfaces, the City of Austin is doing it’s best to encourage use, without, it appears, considering the surfaces.

I took advantage of the nearly non-existent traffic on Thanksgiving morning to cycle downtown on my fat tire bike and take some pictures. Since these new road signs were painted on Guadalupe, I’ve wondered what they were really for?

When I cycle home from work, I ride down Gaudalupe, if it’s in peak traffic time, you have to go fast going South so that you can comfortably occupy a lane and not annoy the motorists also trying to get home. By fast I mean 25MPH and faster, yes, I do this on a bike, and no, not on my fat tire bike.

So, what do these signs mean? I’ve decided that the chevrtons indicate the number of cyclists injured by the pot holes just ahead. Take the one in this picture, at the junction of 12th St. Right after the junction is the pothole shown in the second picture.

On my fat tire this is no problem, on my fat tire I struggle to do more than 15MPH. However, on any normal road bike you could easily drop your front wheel in the hole to left of the cover, causing a puncture or crash, or almost worse, a last minute swerve in front of the cars.

Just after the "safe cycling" sign It’s not an isolated problem, there are dozens of places between the drag and Cesar Chavez with holes big enough to cause a puncture, swerve or crash, like the one shown in pitcure-3, right by the Post Office.

The same is true for many of the cycle lanes in Austin, I’m not just picking on Gaudalupe. However, if the city really wants to encourage cycling in urban areas, it needs to require the road repair crews to fix up access covers, when they resurface, not just to leave the cover at the original depth and raise up the surface by one or two inches. Doing this would also limit the cracking around the covers seen in these pictures.

Finally, before spending money painting signs on the road, and littering the streets with signs like “Share the road” and “Cycle routes” there should be an inspection to declare the road surface safe for cycling.

Just deep enough to cause trouble

Just deep enough to cause trouble

4 Comments so far

  1. Tom Wald (unregistered) on November 30th, 2009 @ 2:14 pm

    The City of Austin has limited resources and can use your help in identifying these holes. If there is a road hazard due to inadequate maintenance on a route that you take regularly, please report it to the city by calling 311. The city can and will fix hazards, but they do not have the extra resources to search around and document all such hazards at this time. The city depends on its citizens to call these things in.

    That being said, I hope that the local community can develop a more systematic way to prevent road hazards like this from appearing in the first place. Until then, we can use your help.

    Tom Wald
    Executive Director, League of Bicycling Voters
    Chair, Bicycle Advisory Council

  2. triman on November 30th, 2009 @ 3:33 pm

    Thanks for the feedback Tom, I will call those in. Do you know who at city hall one could lobby to get them to require or ask contractors to build up the access covers when they resurface roads? It’s a much bigger problem than just these examples, especially up on North Lamar where they’ve recently resurfaced near, ironically, the Texas DPS, but also in general on bike routes. The road gets resurfaced, the lines get repainted and there at its original height is the access cover. Over the next few months the cars hitting it cause the surface around the cover to break and crack. Seems to me this would make good sense from a road maintenance perspective.

  3. Tom Wald (unregistered) on November 30th, 2009 @ 3:48 pm

    I recommend calling 311 to report individual cases. For the bigger picture of making sure the problem doesn’t happen in the first place, call 311 and ask how to get in contact with CoA Street & Bridge. See what Street & Bridge has to say about this.

    I’m interested in seeing improvement in this area, too, so please keep me in the loop.

  4. odoublegood on December 1st, 2009 @ 12:53 am

    North of campus on the same street isn’t at all good, either. Get a transaction nor case number when calling 3-1-1, which is reluctant to give out names or department numbers when there are transfers. Statesman Watch follows up on many of these matters, and there’s seldom any record to be found of complainers’ prior calls. Why is the City spending money on messy slurry-coat or chip-and-seal or Seal-Kote on streets all over town while neglecting the real repaving work that needs to be done? All the loose aggregate, and there’s plenty of it, just washes downhill or comes into houses and yards.

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