Friday, September 10, 2010

If a pothole breaks a bike, does the city hear?

Posted on Fri, Sep 10, 2010 at 3:21 PM

A raft of questions came on the heels of the article I penned for this week's Inlander regarding bicycling over the chaos of downtown construction ("Cycling Through Destruction").

The most pressing of these questions came from Barb Chamberlain, a "Higher ed/public policy communicator, bike commuter, Spokane fan, civic volunteer, mom/wife, vegetarian cooking experimenter." (That's according to her Twitter bio.)

In an email, she wrote:

"I understand the city has a policy that if a pothole has been reported and a motorist subsequently can document damage to the vehicle, the city compensates for the repairs in some way. This is true only if the pothole has been reported. (and it doesn't cover the construction zones, I expect!)

I think it would be worth reporting whether this policy extend to bikes so that if you get a pinch flat hitting a crack that's been reported you get a new tube or if someone really gets thrown and wrenches a frame there's some assistance that's equitable/comparable to what they do for cars. For those people for whom the bike really is their primary form of transportation that's a big deal (and a lot cheaper to repair than a car)."

Okay, not technically a question, but good point!For a reply, we go to Ann Deasy, spokeswoman for the city when it comes to all things road.

"Any vehicle can be compensated: motorized, Vespas, motorcycles, bikes," Deasy says. Hooray! But, what's the process?

"If you're just driving [or riding] and see it, report it. Just as a concerned citizen," she says. The number is 509-625-7733. "Typically our guys are pretty good at filling potholes when reported."

And their guys are busy — in 2010, there have been 2,689 potholes reported. So far.

Give as close as you can to an exact location and an approximate description of the pothole, including size and depth. And how do we know if it's been reported or not?

If there's damage to your bike (or other vehicle) make a claim. Then all the heavy lifting will be done by the city.

"There is an investigation that the claims department," Deasy says, adding that claims should be made by calling 509-625-6824. "They check and see if a report had been made, if the pothole had been repaired."

In the claim, give another as-exact-as-can-be description of the pothole, when it occurred and — if the damage has been repaired — a receipt detailing how the broken road broke your ride. The whole process takes about a week.But don't hold your breath.

"Two years ago, during snow removal … we had paid nothing for the past three years," Deasy says.

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