Cyclists Take Action on Storm Drain Grates

Cyclists have been slipping and falling on storm drain grates throughout the streets of Seattle for quite some time and they are taking action. The drain openings run parallel with the streets and are too wide for most bike tires.  To replace the storm drain grates cost about $500 per pieces, not counting labor and other drain work needed.

In 2008 a cyclist won $25,000 from the city in court after crashing on his bike, due to his tire getting caught in a storm drain grate.  The cyclist and his attorney went for the settlement because the city did not do inventory and replace the grates within one year.

Seattle P-I reports that Seattle has about 70,000 to 80,000 storm drains and many of them have the wide vertical slots.  The problem is that the city doesn’t know where those drain grates are located and still hasn’t come up with an inventory plan.  There are guidelines that the city could follow such as the 2003 manual on uniform traffic control devices, created by the U.S. Department of Transportation and the American Association of State Highway and Transportation Officials.  The manuals state that a white line should mark grates that are “inappropriate for bicycle travel” and the grates should be physically corrected so they are not parallel to the direction of travel.

The storm drains could also benefit from an added slip resistant surface.  This would give pedestrians a high traction surfaces while traveling by foot or bike. SLIPNOT offers an all metal non-slip coating which provides durability and longevity.

“Storm Grates Are a Catch for Seattle Bike Riders.” » Biking Bis. N.p., 14 Jan. 2008. Web. 02 Aug. 2012. <>.

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