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Old 09-08-09, 08:57 AM   #1
DX Rider
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Have you ever ridden a letter of complaint regarding a road hazard?

I trashed the rear rim on my road bike on Sunday. I'm wondering if it will do any good to formally complain, especially since this was not a pothole that I hit, but a man made obstacle.I was riding the return leg of my ride on Sunday on RR114 North in Cumberland, Rhode Island, which is a heavily traveled, winding two lane route, when I wrecked my rim.


Here's what happened:
As I approached the intersection with RR 120, I was riding down a hill that curves to the left at about 20mph on a fairly shady stretch of road, when I spotted a darker patch of road at the bottom of the hill. Since there are alot of patch jobs on the roads in RI I didn't initially think too much about it. As I got closer, I realized that the dark patch of road wasn't the tar patch I thought it was, but was actually a 4x6 foot square hole,about 4-6 inches deep, that had been cut by a road crew across the right wheel track in the lane of the road.

And to make matters worse, there were two man hole covers, side by side about 8 inches apart in the square cut out, they were raised above the level of the dirt base about 1 inch, so not level with the road. By the time that this all came into focus, there was no room to stop. Additionally, there was traffic on my left, traffic in the other lane, and a guard rail to my right. So I did the only thing I could do, I aimed for the space between the two man hole covers, stood up on my pedals, grabbed my handlebars and pulled up on my front wheel for all I was worth. The front wheel made it through fine, the rear wheel didn't.

I hit the facing edge of the hole so hard with my rear wheel that it slammed my front wheel onto the pavement. The impact popped my headlight out of it's bracket. The light went flying through the air, landed in the opposite lane, and smashed into a few different pieces. Which were than further crushed by passing traffic. As I was coming to a stop, I thought I had blown the rear tire, since all I could feel was thuda-thuda-thuda-thuda.

It turns out that my rear rim was destroyed by the impact with the square edge of the whole. The rim is bent so far out of true that the tire rubs the chainstay, there is a flat spot on the rim (it's out of round), three spokes were bent, and there is a noticable dent in the edge of the side wall, which is obvisously from where the rim contacted the edge of the hole. I haven't removed the tire, but given the damage to the sidewall of the rim, I think there must be damage to the hook inside of the rim as well.

I hated the headlight, it was only a being used a day time running light, so it's no big loss. The rim wasn't a huge loss either, since it was a 1982 era single walled, 32 spoke, aluminum hooked rim, which was manufactured by Rigida. I had already planned on building new rims this winter since I knew single walled aluminum rims wouldn't hold up on the roads around here.

I thought about asking for compensation for the rim, but that's not my biggest concern, and I've decided not to do so. I think this is truly a public safety issue, given the fact that there are no signs warning of a road hazard. There was no orange paint around the whole warning of the danger. There were no cones or barrels near the hole warning of the danger. And this hole is at the bottom of a stretch of a road that curves as well as goes down hill, so the only visible warning is about 50 feet before the hole.

There are schools in the area, if what happened to me happened to a child or other inexperienced rider, they most likely would have kissed the pavement, and fallen into traffic.

I've been asked by a couple of friends who ride if I fell. I didn't, but I think that was due to years of riding off road on techincally demanding terrain and a whole lot of luck. If I hadn't gotten my front wheel up, I probably would have crashed badily. Also, I credit the toe clips for keeping my feet on the pedals. If I was riding with clipless I think the jolt I received would have popped the cleats right out of the clips. My back hurt yesterday, but my legs absorbed the brunt of the shock, so it seems fine today.

I'm considering writting a letter to the State DPW, the town DPW, and the senator for the state. That road is not safe for public travel and shouldn't be left in that condition. I just question whether a letter would do any good.

Last edited by DX Rider; 09-08-09 at 09:06 AM.
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Old 09-08-09, 09:15 AM   #2
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Sorry that should have been written, not ridden a letter of complaint.
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Old 09-08-09, 10:44 AM   #3
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I'd absolutely write a letter to any and all. And I'd call it in so they can get it flagged ASAP.

Around here if you call the DPW with a road hazard complaint, they'll do something about it that day if there's any validity to your report.
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Old 09-08-09, 10:44 AM   #4
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Most of the towns in my area encourage road conditions complaints from bicyclists. They either have a complaint form on the city web site, or they publish the name and phone number or e-mail of the city traffic engineer. If you send in a legitimate complaint (like yours sounds like), they always respond.
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Old 09-08-09, 11:07 AM   #5
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That hole might have taken out a car tire and caused and accident, not just a bicycle or motorcycle. I'd not only file it as a hazard, but find out how to make a claim for my damages. Around here a hole that deep would get a steel plate.
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Old 09-08-09, 11:22 AM   #6
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Yes, definitely file a complaint, and I think you should ask for reimbursement of at least the cost of the rim given your description of the hole. Our local roads department has been pretty quick to respond to reports of problems like that. We had one rider fall and injure himself on a bump created by such a construction cut in a roadway for some underground pipe. Happened to have some bright spray paint so we marked it immediately but also gave a call to the city. They had a crew out to fix the spot by the next day and gave us a call asking if there were any other hazards we knew about.

In our area the local cycling advocacy group (EBBC) maintains a hazard report form on their website and will route such issues to the appropriate agency for each area. Makes it much more convenient than having to determine who has jurisdiction for a particular stretch of roadway.
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Old 09-08-09, 11:23 AM   #7
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In 2005 after Wilma hit the cleanup crews had left large divots in the bike lanes from their backhoes. I wrote the town manager and within a couple of weeks they had repaved the lanes. Not sure how many other people complained but it cannot hurt.
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Old 09-08-09, 11:34 AM   #8
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Cary, NC responds very quickly to reports of potholes, missing covers, overgrowth or improper pavement work on city-maintained roads. I've seen them respond at least half a dozen times within 24 hours of my report. State maintained roads take longer.

I've never asked for compensation for damage to my bike, although I have lost some tail lamps to violent bumps.
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Old 09-08-09, 12:08 PM   #9
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Do it immediately - whoever left it that way is responsible for any damage....
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Old 09-08-09, 12:20 PM   #10
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Yes, many times. I had a blowout due where a narrow channel had been cut in an intersection and not properly filled in. There were several new hubcaps also at the intersection probably from others hitting the channel. Called City of San Jose and submitted info and price for tire based upon % tread left. The street was fixed the next day. Called about pile of sand left in the middle of the road. Taken care of that evening.

E-mailed City of Martinez about bike path being overgrown forcing cyclists into roadway on blind curve. It was taken care of.

Call about the hazard and get info on how to file for repairs, etc. Road crews whether contractors or local govt. have ample insurance to cover these type of accidents. And save all receipts for repairs.

Don't forget pictures of the road and location - nearby signs, houses, stores, etc. with the hole for evidence.
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Old 09-08-09, 12:28 PM   #11
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Sure have. I have sent in complaints about poor bike lanes, and stop lights that didn't work for cyclists.

The bike lanes were repositioned, and I have had mixed responses regarding the traffic lights.
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Old 09-08-09, 12:31 PM   #12
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Write the letter! nothing can be done if you don't bring it to attention.

Are you and your bike okay?
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Old 09-08-09, 03:24 PM   #13
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Nasty incident, DX rider.

I would write a letter, even send an email to the appropriate department of works. They might be able to advise you on making a claim for damages.

I reported a problem (by email) to our local authority, regarding a very poor stretch of road on my commute. They responded quickly, having inspected the area in question, and acknowledged the problem. Recently they sent an update to say that work is still planned, and the issue has not been forgotten.


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Old 09-08-09, 04:43 PM   #14
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With all that typing you could've already written the letter.
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Old 09-09-09, 08:00 AM   #15
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I sent an e-mail to my city's road department regarding a drain that had the grate oriented in a way to snag a front tire and send a rider flying.

They fixed it in a few days -- very fast response.

So, yeah, write the letter ... key is finding the right person. Since this is a real hazard to you and others, a phone call might get faster results.
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Old 09-09-09, 09:11 AM   #16
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Hello DX as a fellow Rhode Islander I know what you are talking about, there is a large amount of road work going on this year and the same amount of town and state traffic engineers to inspect it all. This seems like you didn't want to slow down and took a chance and lost. I don't think that the orange paint would have made a difference at your speed. I'm a little curious about whether there was taffic in the lane in front of you and what was their reaction to the hazzard, i.e. were they swerving around the cut in the road like most Rhode Islanders do? And there is usually at least a warning sign about road work on the side of the road.
I suggest that you should make a claim first to the town of Cumberland just go to the town hall and ask the clerk what to do and second to RIDOT depending on who is doing the work. Contacting a congressman about this is silly and useless. The better thing to do is call your state rep. if you get nowhere with the town or RIDOT. I live in Newport and the city is good at making people whole who have damage complaints, that is why they have insurance. Good luck and pay attention we don't ride on a closed course.
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Old 09-09-09, 10:37 AM   #17
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My municipality has a phone number one can call to report any problems with a road.

I've called it many times and they almost always get right out to the problem and fix it straight away.

The city (as well as companies) have an obligation to do their best to remove any safety hazards that they know of. To not address these problem would leave them liable in the event of damages.
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Old 09-09-09, 10:57 AM   #18
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My municipality has a phone number one can call to report any problems with a road.
mine too. now, i admit that for a long time i always caught myself whistling the melody to
when i saw the billboards for it, but my girlfriend recently demonstrated how to effectively use the system.

the road at the end of our block developed a sink hole. nothing huge, but definitely an annoyance and potential hazard. noticing this while walking, my girlfriend whipped out the cell phone and called 311 about it. then she approached two passersby, got them to call 311, went into the convenience store to marshal the staff and customers there to call as well then hit our neighbours up to call when we got back home.

the sinkhole was fixed by 10am the next day.
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Old 09-09-09, 02:24 PM   #19
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My medium sized city has an on-line form to report road hazards including those on bike paths. I've used it both to report potholes on city street and on bike paths. I've been very impressed with the prompt pothole repair that this results in.

I think such reporting actually helps everyone, including the city. The road department can not discover every pothole on their own and the earlier they know about one, the easier and cheaper it is to fix.
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Old 09-09-09, 03:28 PM   #20
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Forget the letter, send them a bill!
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Old 09-09-09, 05:33 PM   #21
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Sorry to hear about the close call.....

Not to be a D-bag and all......but, why didn't you bunny hop over it?

Isn't bunny hopping one of the first things you learn while riding off road? I just started riding off road a month ago and I can bunny hop a few inches off the ground with platform pedals. If I were riding my road bike (with SPDs) or my single speed (with clips), bunnyhopping would be 10x easier.

Since you were going at a decent clip, I think you would've cleared the hole had you lifted both wheels off the ground just an inch.

The way I read it, he did bunny hop, but the rear wheel landed on/hit the far edge. And it was either 4 or 6 feet long. That's a long jump.

I'd definitely see about compensation. Might not be forthcoming, but it's worth asking. My dad once blew out two very expensive tires (315's) on his car from a drainage grate that was left off on a highway-speed road. The government said "tough shiat."
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Old 09-11-09, 01:11 PM   #22
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+1 on the suggestion that you file a report and seek compensation. It would save time if you called first to get the right form.
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Old 09-12-09, 03:23 AM   #23
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Originally Posted by DX Rider View Post
I trashed the rear rim on my road bike on Sunday. I'm wondering if it will do any good to formally complain, especially since this was not a pothole that I hit, but a man made obstacle.I was riding the return leg of my ride on Sunday on RR114 North in Cumberland, Rhode Island, which is a heavily traveled, winding two lane route, when I wrecked my rim.


Here's what happened:
As I approached the intersection with RR 120, I was riding down a hill that curves to the left at about 20mph on a fairly shady stretch of road, when I spotted a darker patch of road at the bottom of the hill. Since there are alot of patch jobs on the roads in RI I didn't initially think too much about it. As I got closer, I realized that the dark patch of road wasn't the tar patch I thought it was, but was actually a 4x6 foot square hole,about 4-6 inches deep, that had been cut by a road crew across the right wheel track in the lane of the road.

And to make matters worse, there were two man hole covers, side by side about 8 inches apart in the square cut out, they were raised above the level of the dirt base about 1 inch, so not level with the road. By the time that this all came into focus, there was no room to stop. Additionally, there was traffic on my left, traffic in the other lane, and a guard rail to my right. So I did the only thing I could do, I aimed for the space between the two man hole covers, stood up on my pedals, grabbed my handlebars and pulled up on my front wheel for all I was worth. The front wheel made it through fine, the rear wheel didn't.

I hit the facing edge of the hole so hard with my rear wheel that it slammed my front wheel onto the pavement. The impact popped my headlight out of it's bracket. The light went flying through the air, landed in the opposite lane, and smashed into a few different pieces. Which were than further crushed by passing traffic. As I was coming to a stop, I thought I had blown the rear tire, since all I could feel was thuda-thuda-thuda-thuda.

It turns out that my rear rim was destroyed by the impact with the square edge of the whole. The rim is bent so far out of true that the tire rubs the chainstay, there is a flat spot on the rim (it's out of round), three spokes were bent, and there is a noticable dent in the edge of the side wall, which is obvisously from where the rim contacted the edge of the hole. I haven't removed the tire, but given the damage to the sidewall of the rim, I think there must be damage to the hook inside of the rim as well.

I hated the headlight, it was only a being used a day time running light, so it's no big loss. The rim wasn't a huge loss either, since it was a 1982 era single walled, 32 spoke, aluminum hooked rim, which was manufactured by Rigida. I had already planned on building new rims this winter since I knew single walled aluminum rims wouldn't hold up on the roads around here.

I thought about asking for compensation for the rim, but that's not my biggest concern, and I've decided not to do so. I think this is truly a public safety issue, given the fact that there are no signs warning of a road hazard. There was no orange paint around the whole warning of the danger. There were no cones or barrels near the hole warning of the danger. And this hole is at the bottom of a stretch of a road that curves as well as goes down hill, so the only visible warning is about 50 feet before the hole.

There are schools in the area, if what happened to me happened to a child or other inexperienced rider, they most likely would have kissed the pavement, and fallen into traffic.

I've been asked by a couple of friends who ride if I fell. I didn't, but I think that was due to years of riding off road on techincally demanding terrain and a whole lot of luck. If I hadn't gotten my front wheel up, I probably would have crashed badily. Also, I credit the toe clips for keeping my feet on the pedals. If I was riding with clipless I think the jolt I received would have popped the cleats right out of the clips. My back hurt yesterday, but my legs absorbed the brunt of the shock, so it seems fine today.

I'm considering writing a letter to the State DPW, the town DPW, and the senator for the state. That road is not safe for public travel and shouldn't be left in that condition. I just question whether a letter would do any good.
I can definitely identify with, what happened to you.

I was riding on the sidewalk(stupid) and, I ran into the concrete base of, a traffic pole that had been moved. BUT, After they had moved the pole, they did not remove the concrete base OR, the four junction points used for securing the pole. As a result, I had a big crash on my bike, that cost me $180. After I got my bike back, I went back to the site and, took pictures with my digital camera. I then contacted the Div. of Traffic n' Engineering, at the county's Dept. of Transportation. I sent them copies of the pictures and receipt. I demanded they reimburse me. It took a couple of weeks to get the check but, the county finally reimbursed me.
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Old 09-12-09, 08:18 AM   #24
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That hole might have taken out a car tire and caused and accident, not just a bicycle or motorcycle. I'd not only file it as a hazard, but find out how to make a claim for my damages. Around here a hole that deep would get a steel plate.
This made me think of something. I went over a local bridge where, I noticed the rebar(sp) visible from the chunks of the bridge roadway that were gone. also mention this to the DOT.
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