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Realities of unkept roads are driven over by society

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Realities of unkept roads are driven over by society

Cracks in roads can cause bike accidents.

Cracks in roads can cause bike accidents.

Camran Hitchcock

Cracks in roads can cause bike accidents.

Camran Hitchcock

Camran Hitchcock

Cracks in roads can cause bike accidents.

Camran Hitchcock, staff writer

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There is no doubt that driving is dangerous, however, that danger stems not only from the act of driving but from the road itself. And for some, this danger could affect the rest of their lives.

Cracks, potholes, and tree roots in roads are quite hazardous for vehicles to maneuver around. Such an act can damage the car and in some cases, the driver as well.

“Uneven pavement and poor road conditions like potholes are dangerous because hitting one can throw cyclists off balance, not to mention drivers and cyclists alike will swerve unexpectedly to avoid them,” said Sonia Elkes, the organizer of “San Carlos Bikes.”

This dangerous reality greatly affected the life of Los Angeles resident Peter Godefroy when he suffered a serious injury after biking over a large root coming up through the road. Godefroy lost consciousness and woke up in the hospital.

“Witnesses say I hit a bump in the road caused by tree roots lifting the asphalt in the left bike lane. I was launched into the air, came down on my front wheel, then went violently over my handlebars headfirst, pole vaulting off my head while still clipped into the bike,” Godefroy said. “My vibrating body was laid-out in the intersection of some neighborhood roads until paramedics scraped me up.”

Unsafe roads can affect even the most aware of drivers and bicycle riders.

“I was perplexed at how I could have gotten so injured. I’m a veteran rider and have never gotten into trouble on downhills, sandy corners, and no car doors ever opened on me. How come I didn’t see the bump?” Godefroy said. “It was midday, with the sun casting shadows on the road from all the tree branches above. The shadows had the camouflage effect on the lifted asphalt.”

Rough streets affect cars and bikes alike. When the road becomes very bumpy and the lane lines don’t appear to be very clear to anyone, no matter the mode of transportation.

“Having roads that haven’t been repaired regularly definitely makes it harder for me to drive. The biggest problem is when lines aren’t clear enough, especially at night, so it would be nice if the city spent more money on making sure that all the roads were up to date,” said Allie Ayers, a junior.

Nonetheless, it can be expensive to repave a road. According to Improvenet, repaving a road typically costs $3-$5 per square foot.

Over the years, the city of Belmont has attempted to continuously repave the roads using a sales tax passed in 2016 for annual repaving maintenance. Yet recently, roads have gotten worse, not only in Belmont but in other cities as well making this an issue to be prioritized.

“In retrospect, the City Services was aware of the flaw in the bike lane, but ‘didn’t have time and resources’ to correct the surface. It would have been helpful to me if the bump was painted an optic color—orange or green—to contrast all the shades of charcoal grey. There was no warning posted,” Godefroy said.

Some believe immediate regulations need to be passed in order to make the streets safer for all vehicles.

“Having systems in place for reporting and repairing unsafe street conditions is critical for a community’s safety,” Elkes said. “If one sees a pothole or unsafe road condition, report it to public works immediately. Cities want to avoid accidents just as much as people do, and a city’s residents are its most valuable eyes and ears. City public works need to respond promptly, and budgets need to prioritize safe streets.”

In Godefroy’s case, this rough road had drastic repercussions on him physically, mentally, and financially.

“Lost income, emergency surgeries, therapists, home care, and hospital bills topped more than $500,000. Though the city dipped into a fund that helped us make ends meet, fixing that bump in a timely fashion would have been far less expensive and far less traumatic for me, my family, friends, work staff, and neighbors. This is a horrible story that still haunts me and many of the people in the neighborhood.  The lore of what happened there is still a bit spooky to the folks nearby. It’s not helping property values either,” Godefroy said.

The dangers caused by cracks, potholes, and tree roots in the road are worth fixing for the sake of the safety of the community.

“Let’s remember, a broken body plus broken families and broken lives is a lot more expensive to fix than some obvious flaws in the ‘safe’ roads we pay property taxes to build and upkeep,” Godefroy said.

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About the Contributor
Camran Hitchcock, Staff Writer

Camran is currently a sophomore who is staff writer for the Scot Scoop. Camran enjoys running cross country and hanging out with her older sister who is...

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Realities of unkept roads are driven over by society