by Dina Winkel, Senior Engineer, Alta Planning + Design
Part of my commute is along a wonderful undulating bicycle trail, high up above the freeway on one side and with a steep grassy slope on the other side. The trail starts at the end of a sleepy residential road without much in the way of street lighting and one afternoon as I was approaching the beginning of the trail, I noticed something in the dark: the road was covered in wet leaves and mud that had slid down overnight, creating a big, slick mud pile! I had been racing down the hill to pick up speed for the uphill. Instead, I hit my brakes as fast as I could and just made it through the muck, going in as straight a line as I could.
This particular dip in the road is one of my favorites. It is like riding a roller coaster and since there is good visibility and very little traffic, I go as fast as I can. I also get some enjoyment from peeking at all the cars sitting in bumper to bumper traffic on the freeway right below me.
Not wanting to give up on my route, I resolved to find out who could clean it up. I took a couple of pictures and called the City of Seattle Department of Transportation main line. The person who answered was able to give me an email address to send my request and pictures to.
I didn’t hear back and forgot all about it until my ride home that same evening: the area had been swept and was completely clean! Wow, how is that for responsiveness! Thank you, City of Seattle!
I’ve called the City once before in my ten plus years of commuting by bicycle. A traffic signal clearly favored a crossing street, for no good reason as far as I could tell. It was fixed within the week – apparently there had been some construction work that required a temporary change in the signal. I have worked with the City of Seattle as a consultant for many years and know they have their staff dedicated to particular issues, eager to improve the lives of all of us in any way they can.
The City does not have a hotline for small, non-emergency road maintenance issues like this, which may deter some people from reporting them. I’ve since learned that our local bicycle club has a dedicated person and phone number to call and they will contact the City for you. Meanwhile, it’s good to keep in mind that City staff is there to help all of us have a better experience. I know that every one of the bicyclists on this route will be happy for the quick and thorough cleanup job.