Rough Pavement Detection

A recent report from AASHTO spells out how expensive it is to forgo maintenance on roads.  I'm not sure how they evaluate roads now but it doesn't seem to work well enough to stay ahead of the ravages of weather and other damaging effects on the road surface.  If the manor of inspection involves driving around and looking at the road surface then I can tell you why the small defects aren't picked up--the inspectors are too far away to see the defects when they are cheaply treatable.  When driving you can't see the road that is close to your vehicle if you are looking forward.  The closest you can see is about 20-25 feet away, far enough away that small cracks are not visible. 

 Walking the roads is not practical, only 1.5-2 miles of road per man-hour can be inspected that way because in most cases the inspector would need to back track down the road to view the opposite side lanes. 

 A potential solution--inspectors on bikes.  Bikes are sufficiently fast enough to inspect 5-6 miles per man-hour while getting a very direct view of the road surface.  They can easily be configured to carry whatever measurement equipment might be needed to analyze a given surface, even lighter vehicle mounted equipment could be attached to a trike if a more stable platform is needed.  Also, a bike or trikes sensitivity to road surfaces won't mask rough roads from the operator like a motor vehicles suspension would.

Isolating the inspectors from the roads may be part of the problem with our deteriorating roads.  Let's get the inspectors closer to the inspected--On Yer Bike!


  1. Yes. inspection by bike seems like a good low tech idea. However my guess is some kind of add-on to the technology Google streets uses might end up better for taking some of the subjectivity out of the process, if anybody official ever buys into this idea.

  2. This was just brainstorming. I recall a bit on PBS maybe 15 years ago (maybe more--if I recall correctly I still lived in NYS which would make it more like 20 years ago) where the British were developing a vehicle mounted camera system for assessing roads. At the time the focus was on the wave formed by the tires following the same line. Once a section of road had become grooved beyond a certain tolerance it was supposed to be repaved. I don't believe the system was sensitive enough to pick up potholes or cracks though.