Bicycle Safety Guide and Countermeasure Selection System


Short term solution of pavement marking highlights the hazard until unsafe drain grates can be replaced or repaired. Photo by Libby Thomas




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, spot repairs, landscape maintenance, etc. Public hazard reporting programs may utilize a variety of mechanisms ranging in sophistication from an easy-to-remember phone number, to an online reporting form, to a smartphone app. Many cities are using apps that allow people to submit geo-located information, including photos of maintenance issues. Reporting programs may be prominently featured on city websites and also through bicycle shops, bike maps, bike clubs, and other venues. Agencies that rely mainly on reports from the public, rather than on-going inspections of facilities, should be that much more prepared to respond to reported hazards when they are submitted.

At a minimum, a staff person should be identified as a coordinator to manage hazard reports and issues and to 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. In almost all cases this will be the same person responsible for coordinating other maintenance issues related to the agencys roadway system. Agencies that are using more integrated management systems may track identified problems and problem resolution in a more seamless and efficient manner which doesnt require additional staff time.

Along with identifying problems, it is imperative that effective policies and procedures are in place to resolve them. Most of the routine maintenance will be accommodated through regular roadway maintenance and the associated methods that are in place (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:

  • Drainage grates and gaps around the grates, especially those hazards that can trap a wheel.
  • Unswept surfaces including outer edges of paved shoulders.
  • Uneven or damaged pavement, railroad crossings, utility covers.
  • Cracked surfaces, especially longitudinal cracking which will catch bicycle wheels.
  • Poorly drained surfaces which will collect fine sediments which are especially slippery when wet.
  • Snow and ice build-up on paths and in bicycle lanes.


Quickly and methodically identifying hazards for bicyclists can ensure that maintenance hazards are addressed on a timely basis.


  • 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.

Estimated Cost

Providing paid staff to perform hazard identification program activities for 26 weeks costs 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).

See repetitive/short-term maintenance and major maintenance countermeasures descriptions for procedures to establish costs of actual maintenance and repair activities.

Safety Effects

A summary of a study that looked at the risk of bicyclist injury in a construction zone can be found here.


To view references for this countermeasure group click here.

Case Studies

Seattle, Washington
Seattle, Washington
Green Bay, Wisconsin