Applicable Countermeasures

Below-grade drain grates create hazards for bicyclists.

Photo by Libby Thomas

Photo by Libby Thomas
view image

Hazard Identification Program

Roadways and off-road facilities can be made safer and more appealing to bicyclists by developing methods to identify hazards and repair needs and institutionalizing practices to address them. Different and combined approaches have been taken by communities but include developing bicyclist hazard reporting programs, hiring personnel to conduct regular inspections of bikeways, and providing for routine accommodation or scheduling and performance of regular activities such as sweeping, inspection and spot repairs, inspection and landscape maintenance, etc. Public hazard reporting programs typically involve developing a hazard identification reporting form such as a postcard and publicizing the program and procedures to report problems through bicycle shops, bike maps, bike clubs, and other venues. A staff coordinator (may be part-time) will be needed to administer the program, ensure that the problem is referred to the correct department and follow-through on resolution, including contacting the reporting person to advise them of the repair or other outcome.

Along with identifying problems, it is imperative that effective policies and procedures are in place to resolve them. Much routine maintenance might be accommodated through regular roadway maintenance (and the costs absorbed by, or at least shared within, the regular roadway maintenance budget). It is important that identification methods and maintenance procedures specify issues that are particular or more stringent for bicyclists, and that might otherwise not be detected or repaired to the necessary standard. Examples of issues that require particular attention are drain grates; cracked, uneven, or unswept surfaces — particularly of outside curb lanes, paved shoulders, or bike lanes; poor drainage; and slippery surfaces such as pavement markings, railroad crossings, utility covers, damaged pavement and others.


  • Provide a regular method of identifying hazards for bicyclists.
  • Provide procedures for ensuring that maintenance hazards are addressed on a timely basis.

top of page


  • Responding to reported hazards in a timely way is critical to protecting public safety and reducing liability exposure.
  • Prioritizing hazards requires a basic understanding of what problems are likely to cause crashes. For example, loose gravel on a curve is likely to cause a crash. Overgrowth that impairs sight distance at a busy intersection should be addressed immediately.
  • The level of effort put into responding to bicycle-related hazards should be equal to or slightly greater than the effort put into responding to motor vehicle-related hazards. In other words, be able to demonstrate parity when developing a well-rounded program.

top of page

Estimated Cost

Providing paid staff to perform hazard identification program activities for 26 weeks cost one around $10,000. Setting up a volunteer bicyclist hazard reporting program with a coordinator, training and materials printing cost around the same, including a pilot test and evaluation of the program (see case study #28).

See Repetitive/Short-Term Maintenance and Major Maintenance countermeasures descriptions for procedures to establish costs of actual maintenance and repair activities.

top of page

Case Studies

top of page