Saturday, October 9, 2010

Mind the Gap

The Atlanta bicycle rider encounters certain hazards in her travels. Shoddy pavement, broken glass and nails, and misaligned sewer grates are common, not to mention Atlanta's notorious steel plates which are "temporarily" placed over work in progress. "Temporarily" can apparently mean "for months".

After enough years of abuse, local cyclists start to find ways to outsmart the bumps and hazards. Sprung saddles are much more effective than the front shocks of your average mountain bike, and they don't slow you down or add much weight. Steel-framed bicycles are heavier, but they provide a combination of strength and flex that you just won't get from aluminum (or carbon fiber, of course); the result is a feeling of smoothness rather than jarring or rattling. And wider tires absorb shock right at the pavement, while being less likely to get stuck in a gap or to rupture on a hard bump. Contrary to popular opinion, wide tires are not particularly slower than skinny ones; they can actually be faster on rough pavement because they transmit less vibration (vertical movement) to the frame and rider.

Anyway, I've been taking note of some of the most egregious holes and gaps. Maybe someday the city will put together a "bike hazard posse", like former Mayor Franklin's "pothole posse"?

The turn from Centennial Olympic Drive onto Baker has a tire-eating grate.
A deep but smallish sinkhole opened up in W. Peachtree Street... It takes up half a lane and has been there for over a month! 
A 3-inch gap on the Georgia Ave bicycle route. Be careful!
Garden-variety tire trap on Centennial Olympic Drive


  1. yikes! that gap next to the drain catch is frightening. not only for bike tires, but for pedestrians. does atlanta have a "hotline" that you can call for public works-type issues? somerville recently instituted their own "311" hotline that connects you directly with the DPW operator (caveat is that you have to be on a city land line-- how many people still have those?). most grievous road hazards like that one are taken care of within a few days after calling in, but the fix may be like you indicate: a barrel or pylon warning of the danger.

  2. I just reported a hole on my route to work at Worth a look.

    Of course, it's tough to report "four blocks of Edgewood Avenue" as almost un-navigable on a bike due to endless construction... :)

  3. Only slightly related, but I recently came across 2 cars parked in a bike lane. I called Park Atlanta, and both had tickets on their windshields when I rode by the next morning. Program their number into your phone: 866-219-8702. I guess privatization has its perks. If only the city were so responsive!

  4. somervillain - In January, Atlanta announced plans to create a 311 line to request city services. The current status? Probably not good due to budget cuts.

    Abby and Quentin - great tips! I have to admit that I've gotten pretty skeptical about getting things fixed, but I'll try. Hope everyone else will too... I have no idea what is up on Edgewood; it's been torn up forever.

  5. We have a long stretch of brain-jarring potholes in front of our building on 10th St. The city is fully aware of it, as a local news station has filmed it and reported on it twice in the past year. The last time they reported, a crew was out there within a couple of hours pouring gravel/asphalt into the worst of the holes IN THE RAIN!!! How long do you think that lasted? :) It's just ridiculous. I'm convinced that a giant sinkhole is going to open and swallow us all up one day.

  6. Traci, they just filled those potholes a few months ago, didn't they?

    The irony is that I don't even get pictures of the worst spots, because they are so bumpy that I would either drop the camera or fall over!