How to Report Bicycling Hazards and Infrastructure Needs

July 26, 2018 • Transportation

How to report road issues
What do you do with hedges growing over the bike lane? Or you find debris on the path? Or a tough-for-a-bike intersection smack in the middle of an otherwise great route? There are ways to alert those responsible for maintaining and planning for bike facilities of such road hazards and issues. But given multiple jurisdictions and a commute shed that spans many cities and counties, it’s sometimes hard to know who to call. The below guide breaks down the process step by step, so the next time you come across something less good on your ride to work, you’ll know who to call.

What should I bother reporting?
The short answer is: you can report anything, even a pothole that looks at you sideways (although don’t expect a resolution). Here are common issues and requests:

  • Road hazards: Things uncovered - like manholes or other pits; debris - like glass in the bike path; basically anything that is blocking or restricting access to the bike lane, bike path, or bike infrastructure.

  • Existing infrastructure that doesn’t work: Things like bike lanes that are too narrow or a bike bridge with a funky egress, or ineffective signage.

  • Places where infrastructure is needed: Things like intersections that need a bike crossing signal, poor connectivity from your local bike path to your downtown office, or places where conflicts with other road users are unavoidable and dangerous.

A great question to ask yourself before making a report is: Does this issue affect people other than me?

What do I need to know?
Before you report an issue, draw attention to a problem, or make an infrastructure request: have all the relevant information. Most cities and counties have reporting tools to help automate this information collection. But even if you’re emailing or calling an official, it will help to have this info at your fingertips:

  • Street name or address

  • Nearest intersection or cross streets

  • Description of the issue or request

  • Photo(s) of the impacted area (note that most online reporting tools have a size limit for attachments)

  • You’ll likely need to include some details about yourself, like your name, your daytime phone, and your email address. Be prepared to surrender these personal factoids so your city, county, or state may follow up with you later.

Not all of the above will be requested by all localities or officials, but most will.

Which agency do I contact?
Sometimes figuring out which agency you need based on the location is tricky. For instance, some roads are maintained by the county or state, so making a report at the city level would be ineffective. Page Mill, maintained by Santa Clara County, is a great example of one such road in our backyard.

Roads can also span jurisdictions, so one portion may be maintained by one entity, but move a quarter inch south and another entity becomes responsible. Below are tips for determining who “owns” your road. This is by no means an exhaustive list, but should help you figure out who to contact:

Santa Clara County
Check out the county Road Book to see if the road your location is on is listed. Here are major roads that are maintained by the county:

  • Lawrence Expressway

  • Quito Road

  • Central Expressway

  • Page Mill Road

  • Oregon Expressway

  • San Tomas Expressway

  • Montague Expressway

  • Foothill Expressway

  • Bloomfield Ave.

  • Almaden Expressway

  • Blossom Hill Rd.

  • Arastradero

  • El Camino Real

  • Leavesley Road from State Route 152's northern interchange with US 101 and then curves southward onto Ferguson Road. The route's southern terminus is at Route 152 (Pacheco Pass Highway) east of Gilroy.

Sunnyvale
Access Sunnyvale” is the online reporting tool for making service requests or reporting issues.

Use the "Street, Tree, or Sidewalk Issue" category. This tool accepts requests one at a time and attached images. You may also use a toggle to request a response from a city official.

San Mateo County
Public works keeps an interactive map showing county-maintained roads. Again, here are some major roads San Mateo handles:

  • Sandhill Rd., SW of 280

  • Alameda de Las Pulgas (some portions)

  • Bay Rd. (some portions)

  • Alpine (section N and S of 280)

  • Canada Rd. (portion)

  • Edgewood Rd.

State Routes maintained by Caltrans
Check out the state road map for more details. Pro tip: The interface is difficult to use, so try using Google Maps to pull the route numbers. Meanwhile, here is a short list of state roads:

  • El Camino Real

  • Skyline Blvd.

  • Bayshore Freeway

  • Devil’s Slide

  • Junipero Serra portion in Daly City that is part of State Route 1

  • California State Route 1

  • California State Route 9

  • California State Route 35

  • California State Route 82

  • California State Route 84

  • California State Route 92

  • California State Route 109

  • California State Route 114

For roads or sections of roads not under state or county control, contact an agency within the city where the stretch of asphalt is located.

Finally, how do I submit a report?
Again, most municipalities have online reporting tools or staff that can help you with your bike need. The following outlines how to submit reports to various cities. Note: County and State reporting tools are listed at the end of this section.

Los Altos
Submit a “Maintenance Request” to the city: https://www.losaltosca.gov/pub

Los Altos Hills
Los Altos Hills Connect is the online reporting tool for Los Altos Hills: http://www.losaltoshills.ca.gov/376/Los-Altos-Hills-Connect
The tool accepts images as well.

Menlo Park
You may submit an issue or request here: https://en.seeclickfix.com/men

Mountain View
“Ask Mountain View” is the online reporting system for Mountain View: https://clients.comcate.com/newrequest.php?id=128#
The interface is not intuitive, requiring a topic to be selected first. “Bicycles and Pedestrians” is found under category “Streets.” This tool accepts requests one at a time, and images up to 5MB in size.

Palo Alto
Palo Alto 311 has an online reporting tool: https://www.cityofpaloalto.org/services/paloalto311/make_a_service_request.asp
Like the other online tools, it accepts photos and requests one at a time.

Santa Clara County
The Roads and Airport Department of Santa Clara County online reporting tool: https://www.sccgov.org/sites/rda/info/Pages/service.aspx
This tool accepts requests one at a time, and images up to 9MB in size. Check the county Road Book (scroll up - see above) if you’re unsure if the road in question is managed by Santa Clara.

San Mateo County
Call the Road Maintenance office at (650) 363-4103 to report maintenance issues. For improvement requests, the Bicycle and Pedestrian Committee has the most direct mandate, and Kaley Lyons, Sustainability Coordinator, is the contact: klyons@smcgov.org.

California State
Some key corridors are maintained by Caltrans, and service requests can be entered online.

This guide is just a starting point. If you have experience reporting bike issues or making requests in a city not listed above, let us know. We’re happy to keep growing this list!

Jim Tarver - Bike Commuter Profile

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