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dangerous longitudinal drain grates

Maybe this should be under "Commuting", but since "Eye Candy" *does* include "significant obstacles or road hazards along the way", here is one. Well, three.

I encountered the worst case I have yet seen of a drain grate that can eat bicycles. It's on Babcock Boulevard in Ross Twp, near Northway Mall. It's on the uphill/northbound/eastbound side, just before the traffic light and peel-off for the mall. What makes it particularly bad is that it is DIRECTLY IN THE PATH of where cyclists ride. Huge slots, capable of eating any road tire, would cause an immediate catastrophic accident.

On a different part of Babcock, between Three Degree and Siebert, in front of #3365, is another longitudinal grate. While it's a teeny bit out of the way, it's also DOWN about six inches. The hole alone is certain to cause an overthrow, even if you straddle two slots.

Yet another at #3333 Babcock, a bit farther still off the road, and almost level with the road surface, but still a potential hazard.

I will post these on the SPC site, but in the meantime wanted to be sure to document them here.

What others are out there?

2008-10-04 03:50:49

I just remembered another myself. In the hamlet of Ingomar, when turning right from westbound West Ingomar Road onto northbound Harmony Road, there is a wheel-eating drain grate smack in the middle of the turn.

Let's use this thread to document all the others out there! Getting these replaced would be fairly low-cost, high-priority work, I'd think.

2008-10-04 22:09:12

There's something really wrong with this board.

Twice, just now, I posted a reply containing an IMG tag. First the tag got eaten, though the text itself remained. Then, upon editing to replace the IMG tag with just a URL to the photo, the whole reply disappeared.

Attempting to post a reply containing just the URL to the photo has the same effect as not trying in the first place. It just goes away.

Editing a text-only post seems to work fine.

2008-10-06 07:33:18

One more try on a photo of this bad boy:

2008-10-08 18:58:10

I'd bet they could just turn that 90 degrees.

2008-10-09 04:32:23

I think you're right. I went up there yesterday and did a rough measurement with a pen, and yes, it's almost exactly square.

2008-10-12 07:42:16

In fact, I'd reckon anyone with a crowbar could turn it 90 degrees. The only downside is that you'd look like a metal thief, but arriving on a bicycle is probably a defense from that.

2008-10-12 17:31:29

Actually the thought that crossed my mind was to bring my station wagon, a bicycle, a crowbar, and a couple of highway cones. Block traffic with the car, set out the cones to direct traffic to the passing lane, park the bicycle in front of the car, and flip the grate. If a cop wonders what in tarnation I'm up to, I simply demonstrate with the bike that I was avoiding a catastrophe.

Probably wouldn't take me 15 minutes.

And if PennDOT or whomever wanted to throw me a C-note for my trouble, that's fine with me. It'd probably cost them/taxpayers a grand to send a crew out to do it. In May.

Anyway, Sara said she reported it to the proper authorities, so I'm seeing how long it's going to take them. If it's still not done next May, I'll do it myself and send them a bill.

2008-10-13 15:26:25

I ride up that road 4x a week, and always have to dodge that crate, with pissed off cars on my arse. I safely signal, and always have to time it so that I don't swerve in front of a car.

I would love to have that grate turned, lets do whatever it takes to do it before someone gets hurt. Going up that hill where the GetGo is probably the only stretch of babcock that I don't feel safe on coming from Millvale, but for the most part it's OK.

2008-10-28 17:48:43

Did you get any follow-up from SPC on this? You might want to email Sara W. just in case.

2008-11-03 19:50:47

So far, no, other than talking with her when she gave me the bike frame a couple of weeks ago. I don't think it's been fixed yet.

Meanwhile, here are some photos of the two grates on Babcock between 3 Degree and Siebert. First the deep one in front of 3365:

3365 Babcock grate

This one is in front of 3333 Babcock:

3333 Babcock grate

Here is a demo of the one at 3333 eating my bike:

demo of 3333 grate

2008-11-03 21:05:13

There's also a huge hole/grate going north on babcock towards 3 degree. It is right after the shell station near Thomson Run. I came close to hitting it on my way up the first time.

2008-11-03 21:33:18


There was confusion between PennDOT and Allegheny County over the actual maintenance responsibilities. Allegheny County has been determined to be the appropriate entity, and are reported to have their maintenance crews "on it." This pertains to the Babcock/Three Degree location only. I'll take a look at the others ASAP. (I was away all week, last week. Sorry!)

2008-11-04 17:57:10

that first one in the series that you posted stu, looks like the grate to hell

2008-11-04 18:42:22

i heard back from penndot today and they said that the county is supposedly on it. hope these get changed out really soon. thanks for taking action on this stu. see how easy it is folks!? we need more people using that form on SPC's website and 311!

2008-11-04 20:47:18

I just received a copy of the email requesting that Allegheny County Maintenance turn the grate on Babcock, between Browns Lane and Roderick Drive 90 degrees, or replace it with a bicycle friendly grate. This is the first location identified by Stu in his original post. We should see action on this item relatively soon. I'll continue to pursue the others.

2008-11-05 15:18:14

FlyS564 (or anyone else): Where on Babcock is the grate to which you are referring? Is the Shell Station the one on the northbound side of Babcock (at Siebert, near the used computer shop and the thrift store?) Of are you down closer to Rochester/Cemetery Lane, near the gas station on the southbound side of Babcock,(generally between the DQ and the carpet store?)

2008-11-05 15:30:30

I'm on Babcock between Northway Car Wash (Babcock & Babcock & 3 Degree) and Millvale constantly. There are no serious problems on that stretch other than the couple I've mentioned.

FlyS564, do you mean Siebert? Yeah, between Siebert and 3D, going north, there are a couple of potentially troublesome grates, but you'd have to be well off the road to hit them.

I don't do the piece between McKnight/Peebles and 3D all that often. I will check on the original bad boy later today when I run out.

North of McKnight/Babcock/Perrymont, towards North Park, I don't remember seeing anything real serious. I've been on Babcock all the way up to Mars-Valencia Road (Willie's Tavern), both directions, and don't recall any bad storm grates.

2008-11-07 16:07:31

As of 1:20 p.m. today, F11/07/2008, it's still unfixed.

And no, there are no other bad ones between 3D and McKnight. Well, there is one of the same wide-open type, right by Roderick (by N'way Mall entrance), but it's properly sideways.

2008-11-07 18:51:02

@flyS564: Confirmed, there is a huge hole on northbound Babcock, about 0.1 mile beyond Thompson Run Rd, between Kretzler's and Cottman Transmission. It's similar to the hole at 3365 Babcock, but without the grate.

2008-11-10 22:15:48

Thank you, swalfoort, PennDOT, County road dept, Bike-Pgh and everyone else involved, for getting that grate fixed. Before May. (It was actually done back in snow season.) Looks like they just turned it 90 degrees, but hey, it's bike safe.

Now for the next one: 40th Street Bridge, northbound, about 3/4 of the way across. It's not as big as the one on Babcock, but it would sure bend a wheel if you hit it straight on.

2009-05-30 14:35:03

40th street bridge is State Route 2124.

PennDOT now owns it and all the problems with it. Allegheny County in their wisdom, gave it to PennDOT years ago.

If you want to keep them on their toes, check the dimensions of the inlet grate. Neenah Foundry makes alot of replacement grates for older structures, and this one could be replaced by a "Gutter Inlet Grate" supplied by Neenah - either an R-3397 or R-3402 type.

2009-05-30 18:38:12

This is just a sidenote, but I was visiting Columbus (OH) this weekend and noticed that, at least in some places, there is a white slanted line pointing outward into the road in front of the sewer grates.

Of course, at least where I was this weekend, people also give me an entire lane when they pass me, making it possible to avoid the grate if you have too. It's amazing. No getting buzzed on my left arm.

2009-05-30 21:23:50

Another pet peeve of mine is diagonal grates on a corner, in parallel with the direction of the turn. I mentioned one above, Ingomar Rd at Harmony (westbound right turn onto northbound).

A second one is on Center Avenue in West View, coming from I-279/Bellevue, by the right turn into the back of West View Plaza.

I'm sure there are dozens of others. Send 'em in, folks! Eventually we'll get 'em fixed, but first we have to know where they are!

2009-05-30 21:35:40

I just want to add my two cents on this subject. I really appreciate all of the things that are being done to make the City bike friendly, but the road drains are a great danger to cyclilsts. I have personally experience what can happen if you happen to go down in a drain.I ended up with a hyperextended elbow, twice inside of a week. Both times I was forced over by a car, almost as if they knew what they were doing. I think that the drain gratings out to be changed. I've seen some that had holes in them rather than the staight or slanted slices (that's what I call them). An I also believe that anywhere that bstreets are widw enough there ought to be bike lanes added. The best thing that could have ever happened was for bike lanes to be addedfrom Frick Park up to S. Dallas. It makes it so much easier to navigate the debris and drains. We have a long way to go.

2009-05-30 22:10:46

yes we do have a long way to go.

anyone seen that strange grate on smallman st, near the history center?

2009-05-31 00:51:26

And then we have these wheel-eaters:

This one is on Bigelow between O'Hara/Bayard and Parkman, right up the street from Pitt.

2009-06-09 11:01:32

damn, why don't these img tags work reliably?

Gotta run, I'll fix it later.

2009-06-09 11:02:49

I just submitted a 311 for the one(s) on Smallman

2009-06-09 11:32:31

Thanks, Scott. I'll try to get the word out today to PennDOT/County/City about the others. So far, I'll be looking at 40th Street Bridge, and Bigelow near O'Hara/Parkman. I'll have to look at the diagonal drain issues on Ingomar and Center to try to figure out a solution on those (intersecting roads may have differing "jurisdictions" etc. which complicate the resolution process.

2009-06-09 13:10:46

OK, let's try that again:

If you can't see it, the grate itself is acceptable, but that two-inch slot NEXT to it would really bite.

(botheration! I've tried about five times, and the fool thing just won't show up. The whole tag just disappears entirely.)

Awright, here's the link; post it in your browser to see it:

2009-06-10 02:30:10

Here's another one, Uptown, near the new hockey arena. Crossing Fifth Ave from Chatham onto Washington.


2009-06-27 19:12:55

i have also 311'd that smallman drain near the history center several times.

2009-06-29 21:48:21

Found another one, and it's in a really prominent place, right in the middle of the construction area Downtown between Stanwix Street and the Hilton Hotel. Watch it!

2010-05-16 20:24:38

@stu... ran into that this morning on the Pedal PGH ride. Very bad placement on the curve.

2010-05-17 00:55:23

Finally got a picture of this one.

2010-05-21 15:50:23

I'm going to have nightmares now.

2010-05-21 15:52:49

Damn, that is scary.

You know they will replace them with horizontal grates, then when the construction is over and the road goes back to normal they will be back to longitudinal again.

2010-05-21 15:55:56

where the hell is that?

2010-05-21 15:56:21

Downtown, construction area between Stanwix and the Hilton Hotel, outbound.

2010-05-21 15:58:07

yeah. i'll avoid that. yeesh

2010-05-21 16:13:07

Can they just be flipped over? from //// to \\?

2010-05-21 17:18:02

I've learned to make it easier on myself by never riding over drain grates. Then I don't have to stop and think about which way the slots go. And I don't wipe out on slippery wet metal, or get my wheel diverted by the crack between the asphalt and the grate, or pinch-flat on the pothole that always lurks there...

2010-05-21 17:21:29

Found this one during the Flock Of Cycles ride.

This doozy is on Ellsworth at the corner of Bellefonte, outbound.

This one is a hazard to pedestrians as well as cyclists. Think baby carriages, grocery buggies, etc.

2010-05-22 05:12:40

I need to take a photo of the storm drain at the corner of Ward St. and the Boulevard of the Allies. Seriously, that thing could practically eat both the bike AND the rider!

Unrelated because it's a big gap rather than a poorly-aligned storm grate, but still worth mentioning. And the thing that makes it worse is that it's essentially right at the curb cut.

Also, Stu, how do you manage to take a photo like that in the middle of a bike ride? Well done.

2010-05-22 06:27:33

I almost fell into that abyss at Ward & Boulevard tonight. Yikes.

I like the photo Stu. It's like ADA meets Pitfall.

2010-05-22 07:04:42

This one? (go into Street View) <--The on the SE corner?

Or this one? <--The one on the NE corner? (you might have to rotate the compass, look for the grey car, and the girl on the sidewalk)

Yeah, there are a bunch of those out there, too.

I recall during the Flock Of Cycles ride pointing out an example of a good drain grate. I just wish I could remember where that was!

Flipping the Ellsworth/Bellefonte grate, while helping pedestrians with rolling things, would only exacerbate the problem for cyclists. That one simply needs to be replaced.

@impala26, you'll notice that I ditched the bike (photo background), ran back & took a quick cell phone photo. It always helps to have a bicycle and/or cyclists in the photo, to give perspective to how close we routinely come to disaster.

2010-05-22 11:34:17

Heh. I just thought the bike in the background was from the grate's latest victim, somehow flung 30 feet across the intersection...

2010-05-22 15:31:21

I found this interesting article about bicycles and drain covers.

Within the last few years, the city repaved my street and inserted something similar to the design in the article during the process

2010-05-23 01:04:00

This is how they're supposed to look. This one is on Penn Ave at Stanwix Street, about 200 feet away from that horrible one.

I wonder what it would take to switch out every troublesome grate in the area. Yeah, money, but how much? And what hoops would we have to jump through?

This is the sort of change that would make our road system so much safer for cyclists. A one-time cost to fix something that stays fixed.

2010-05-25 14:20:31

I wonder what it would take to switch out every troublesome grate in the area. Yeah, money, but how much? And what hoops would we have to jump through?

Easy...sell it as "These new grates, with their smaller holes, will make it harder to drop your cell phone/car keys/iPad into the sewers when you've parked your car next to the grate."

2010-05-25 14:28:56

iPhone proofed storm grates?? We'll take eleventythousand please.

2010-05-25 14:46:14

Around where I live, whenever they've replaced or repaired a grate lately, it's been with the "good" kind that Stu depicts above. Perhaps targeted 311 calls would help with the most egregious examples. I had good luck calling 311 a couple of months ago for the collapsed opening at the intersection of South Highland and Elwood.

2010-05-25 14:48:34

that 40th street bridge one drives me crazy... there are literally 40+ grates on that bridge and ONE of them is that way... how does that happen?!

2010-05-25 17:34:26

@mark, and I reported it through official channels in May 2009. So, like, c'mon guys, get on it already! You cannot see this thing in the dark, so as to avoid it.

It's on the northbound side, about 3/4 of the way across.

2010-05-25 18:18:06

Meanwhile, let's try once again to get that Bigelow-just-up-from Bayard grate to show up:

(The key on these images is to have a URL that ends in ".jpg" )

2010-05-25 18:23:01

I hit this one straight on yesterday. I didn't wreck, but if I hadn't had 80# in the tires I may well have gotten a pinch flat. Pretty much the same as walloping a pothole at speed.

McIntyre Square exit lane to Peebles Road, Ross Twp.

btw, there's another just like it right at the corner where you turn right onto Peebles.

2010-06-27 10:52:48

At Fourteenth and Smallman, they're digging up this inlet.

I'm worried as to what they're to replace it with, not that the old one wasn't a deathtrap.

2010-08-31 11:30:17

@sloaps, I've been working on them to replace this for months. Finally all my letters paid off. They removed the grate all together and just paved over the hole. We have before and after photos. We'll be publishing a blog post on it soon so that people know that the 311 system can and does work. You need a little patience and perseverance with it sometimes, but it does work.

2010-09-01 13:05:27

c'mon people, get stoked!

2010-09-01 19:28:30

Nice work Scott. I specifically warn people to avoid the grates on Smallman when I give directions that way. Now I get to tell them to look for the newly paved over hole in the road. Score.

2010-09-01 19:33:33

I rode by here today and imagine my surprise when it was gone!

2010-09-01 19:38:33

Awesome. Way to go.

(Whats with the firetruck sign? Is there a secret fire station down there?)

2010-09-01 19:44:14

That's not a firetruck. That's the truck that delivers crosswalks. As the pictogram shows.

2010-09-01 19:47:24

Ha ha.

The fire station is on the corner of Penn.

2010-09-01 19:48:27


I'm still waiting for resolution of the 40SB grate that I reported in May 2009 via SPC (see about halfway down on page 1 of this thread). swalfoort, any idea who to tickle about that one?

2010-09-01 20:18:43

Just reported a dangerous drain grate to 311 near the corner of Ellsworth and Neville ave in front of 552 Neville House.

Here's a street view

It's not too bad if you have fat tires, but it would eat up my road bike wheel.

2010-09-16 16:12:54

I'll try to retackle the 40SB question, Stu. Can't promise immeddiate results, obviously.

2010-09-16 17:27:44

We have a new one! On a just-repaved street, no less! This one is in West View, heading eastbound on Center (the way the 500 goes when it's approaching W View but it turns right here, not left). You would hit this making a left turn from the left lane.

What galls me is that there wasn't a wheel eating drain grate here before they did the work! Or if it was there, it was a lot easier to avoid.

Another point of reference: Scholl's Bike Shop is just off-camera to the right, across the intersection.

2010-10-10 23:24:47

PennDOT will tell you that the diagonal slats mean that it IS a bicycle friendly sewer cover. I'll have another chance to talk to them on Wednesday. I'll see what I can do....

2010-10-11 20:19:14

At the SPC ped-bike meeting this morning I raised this issue with PennDOT. They confirmed that they DO know that there are problems, and what good design is, but a) they can't find all the problem locations on their own - so could we help them do so, and b) the new grates cost money, and that doesn't grow on trees (est is $500 +/- per grate).

But, at their request, I have started to compile a central list. I see I missed one or two from this list (my printer failed to print the most recent posts).

This is what I have so far:

Ward Street at Blvd of Allies- Poorly aligned drain grate; grate and fit problematic

Ellsworth at Bellfonte, Outbound- diagonal sewer grate at intersection

Liberty Avenue between Stanwix and Hilton Hotel, in construction zone - diagonal sewer grate in middle of roadway, on curve

Smallman Street near Heinz History Center (need details)

Crossing Fifth from Chatham to Washington, Uptown-diagonal sewer grate at intersection;

40th Street Bridge - Scuppers (aka storm grates, but called scuppers on bridge, discussed at meeting)

Bigelow between O'Hara/Parkman, Oakland

Westbound Ingomar Road at turning north onto Harmony Road- diagonal sewer grates at intersection

Center Avenue westbound at right hand turn into Plaza - diagonal sewer grates at intersection

Babcock Blvd, .1 miles past Thompson Run- bad grate design, grate in huge depression

Babcock Blvd, in front of 3365 Babcock - bad grate design, grate in huge depression (is this the same one as above?)

Babcock Blvd, in front of 3333 Babcock straight grate, parallel to centerline

Notifying PennDOT (and by cc the City and the County) of these issues is a first step. They may not be responsible for the grates in all cases (Pgh Sewer/Water may be, for example) but it will be one step closer to full documentation.

Let me know of others that I've missed. I hope to send the first version of the list (to which I am appending photos) to PennDOT probably Monday of next week.

2010-10-13 20:28:55

They confirmed that they DO know that there are problems, and what good design is, but a) they can't find all the problem locations on their own - so could we help them do so, and b) the new grates cost money, and that doesn't grow on trees (est is $500 +/- per grate).

This seems to conflict with Stu's report that they repaved a road, and stuck a new wheel sucking grate in the middle.

2010-10-13 20:46:06

Inbound FORBES, between the cemetery entrance and DALLAS. There is a grate with deep gouges all around it. Its right around where the bike lane ends. I can try to get a photo of it on a morning commute if someone else here doesn't beat me to it.

2010-10-13 20:47:49

A couple of updates:

- The 3365 Babcock and 0.1 past TRR are different, and I think the TRR one is more a hole than a grate, & so is a bit off-topic (holes are a different discussion).

- The Liberty/Stanwix one is now fenced off. Just make a note that this had better get changed out or deleted altogether as part of the T project.

- It's just the one scupper on 40SB that's sideways (northbound, about 3/4 across, curb lane).

- The two exiting McIntyre Square, the one I photographed and another as you turn right onto Peebles that's also in a big depression.

2010-10-13 21:46:39

Thank you Sara! PennDOT is complaining about $500 per grate? This is hilarious on so many levels. We're talking maybe $10,000 total to make the lives of hundreds of people much much better. Give me a break, PennDOT.

2010-10-13 22:51:31

I'm amazed that it's $500/grate. It's just a hunk of cast iron. $450 of labor costs for one guy to plop it in and five guys to stand around eating... Five Guys

2010-10-13 22:59:06

I know it's not a drain grate, but I always forget to 311 it - there's a hole in the middle of the southbound side of grant st near oxford ctr, presumably for drainage. A car wouldn't think it was anything but a pothole, as it's probably less that 6 inches diameter, but for some tires, that could be a catastrophe...

2010-10-14 00:09:14

Ok, here is a snapshot (from a pedestrian/sidewalk vantage point) of the grate just to the left side of the Homewood Cemetery gates on Forbes Avenue. The bike lane ends and the "shared" lane narrows shortly before this tire trap.

[edit]Sorry there's no scale reference in the image. The gap opposite the curb is ~2" wide and about as deep.

2010-10-16 15:19:01 $450 of labor costs for one guy to plop it in and five guys to stand around eating... Five Guys

Sounds about right.

2010-10-16 15:20:26

Pseudacris's photo might be more a problem from the holes around the grate than the grate. True, we should change these out, since hitting one will cause a serious bump, but that center bar will prevent your wheel from falling completely in, as in the West View and Babcock photos.

As we gather these, I see a need to categorize.

1) Grates that, by their design, have slots big enough to eat a wheel entirely.

2) Grates that, by their design, have slots in line with the path of travel that a road tire could get seriously pinched, but are not as wide as the previous one, e.g. the Smallman/14th and McIntyre Square grates.

3) Grates of that same type but which, by their positioning, are not an immediate danger to travel.

4) Grates which have some wiggle room in their design which allow large slots to develop between the grate itself and their enclosure, e.g. the Bigelow-by-Bayard example. (Perry Highway northbound between Pines Plaza and CCAC North has several of these.)

5) Grates with serious pavement issues around them. Whether or not the grate itself is bike-safe, the holes would be enough to cause a potential overthrow.

6) Grates whose design is less than ideal, but not egregiously unsafe, i.e., won't eat a wheel but will cause a nasty bump. The grate itself, minus the bad pavement, in Pseudacris's post, is of this type.

If I had nothing to do for a month or two, and someone was willing to pay me for my time, I would willingly inventory them all, city- and county-wide.

On the point of cost, we're talking about $1000 a grate, $500 for the grate and a similar amount of labor. By comparison, a single traffic light is a minimum of about $100,000. Like Scott guesstimated, there might only be a couple hundred that of primary concern in the entire area.

2010-10-16 17:27:50

Yeah, the Forbes grate that Pseudacris posted is really bad, even worse than the photo shows - deep grooves on 3 sides. It's pavement damage, not the design - that sewer has been flooding recently in heavy rains.

Luckily it is at the top of a long climb so you're unlikely to hit it at any speed. On the other hand, it's in an unmarked shared lane that's an important commuting route - plenty of opportunity for drivers to get ticked off by a slow cyclist taking the lane there.

I keep meaning to call 311 about it but I forget.

The other grates on Forbes just the same except flush to the pavement. These are totally passable, though they make me nervous (I usually swerve around them because I'm chicken, but I've ridden over them with not even a jolt). My beau rides right over them on his road bike. There's even room in the bike lane to pass them. I wouldn't worry about changing them until there's a chicken in every pot...or whatever the cycling nirvana equivalent is.

2010-10-18 03:31:17

I noticed one the other day on the zoo hill (wild

place) on the uphill before the turn onto highland.

500/grate is not bad considering how much Edgar S

could probably get a cyclist who gets hurt after

these have been reported.

2010-10-18 14:18:05

considering it costs about $250 for a thermo turning lane arrow, i'd say it's a bargain.

2010-10-18 14:57:18

I counted five of the #4 variety on northbound Perry Highway on the half mile between the front of Pines Plaza and Perrymont Road last night, and I know there are at least three more north of that. Again, it isn't so much the grates as that one-inch notch between the grate and its enclosure. Once every 50 passes or so, I get dangerously close to nailing one of those slots dead-on. It's only one inch of a 15-foot lane, but all you need is one. That's one mile of one road one direction.

How many more are out there, even the 4s, 5s and 6s?

"As far to the right as practicable", in these cases, mean "Take the damn lane!"

By contrast, on the mile or so of Penn Ave between Free Ride and Shady Ave, I crossed 10 grates and didn't even flinch. They're the right type and flush with the pavement, close to perfect.

2010-10-18 16:37:54

Thanks for tracking all of these, Sara. Here's another one: Railroad St at 31st. It's about a 5 or 6 inch drop into the grate itself, then of course there are the longitudinal slots. This has trip to the hospital written all over it.

2010-11-03 21:19:23

Yipes! That's a good one. I'll ad it to the list!

2010-11-03 21:27:31

there's one on e carson going into station square, right near that gas station and the "Station square" readerboard thing. Not longitudinal, but a couple of the grates are so far down into the ground that it is certainly a hazard. I'll take a picture/311 when I can remember

2010-11-03 23:00:35

There is one on outbound Steuben St in the West End near Sanctus. It is of the same type as the one Scott just pictured.

A little farther out Steuben, there's one on the inbound side near Stratmore.

2010-11-04 02:13:39

New category: Type #7: The gaping-hole drains like the one at BlvdAllies/Ward. These are not as dangerous as those with longitudinal slots in the riding lane. Under the right conditions (being forced too far right when it's icy, for instance), you could slide right into one -- maybe a whole wheel and leg.

Yes, I'd say they're hazards which should be addressed. Please include them. But I think the focus on fixing them should be on types #1 to #4.

2010-11-04 02:18:32

penn between 11-16th is riddled with them. They're fixed one. there's quite a few more...hopefully with some time!

2010-11-04 02:28:50

This one is on private property, but nevertheless is of the worst type, and right in the path of travel. Located in the Eat & Park on McKnight Road, southbound, just beyond Browns Lane, in Ross Twp.

I'm not sure what we do, if anything, for ones like these. Probably just point out the potential safety hazard, and suggest that the next time they get pavement work done, they kick in the couple hundred bucks to replace it.

That little notch between parking spaces also says to me "nice place to put a bike rack".

2010-11-06 20:56:46

Dear Eat'n Park,

Blah blah blah, dangerous drain grate, blah, hazard, blah blah, liability, blah blah, lawsuit, blah blah.



2010-11-06 21:37:48

Dear Cyclist:

Blah, blah, blah private property. Blah blah blah, and anyway, when was the last time anyone rode a bicycle into an Eat-n-Park on McKnight Road?


Eat n' Park

(Who, by the way, installed bike racks at their new restaurant in Waterworks.)

2010-11-07 01:01:14

With the number of rubber mats and "caution, wet floor" signs, warnings about undercooked eggs, salting on sidewalks, etc. I'm guessing these businesses are concerned about dangerous conditions which they might be liable for on their private property.

2010-11-07 01:36:16

According to my son, he's ridden a bicycle through there himself three times this week already. I didn't know that when I posted the photos.

2010-11-07 02:08:26

There are about 3 on Zoo hill going up, 2 currently covered by leaves.

2010-11-07 20:47:52

Earlier this week I noticed that the grate Pseudacris mentioned on Forbes (near Homewood Cemetery) has been patched. Yay! I even rode over it on my way to the keg ride.

2010-11-08 00:50:20

Three-fer! I finally decided to take a closer look at my usual path down Babcock Blvd and in Millvale. There's a nasty one right outside Millvale, by the Shop & Save. Two, actually, one inbound, one outbound, right on that bridge. Here's the inbound/southbound one:

Then, in Millvale, there are two I got photos of, and at least three more that it was too dark, and I was only on two streets. Who knows how many there really are in that little town, which otherwise is fairly bike-friendly.

This one is at Grant & Hays Alley. The grate isn't all that horrible, but the hole it's in would be a nasty bump. It's just out of the line of travel, but not by much.

One block away, at Grant and Butler, is this truly nasty one. Not a problem if you're on Grant, but if you were riding a bike down the sidewalk on Butler, you could fall in pretty easily. This would be right after you clobber the pedestrian walking out of the bank on Grant.

Maybe more importantly, note the brand-new ADA-compliant approach. If you were in a wheelchair, crossing Grant, you would very nearly nail one of those outermost two slots.

2010-11-18 15:53:06

Good news! I provided a list (as per above) to PennDOT, City of Pittsbugh and Allegheny County this morning, with photos where available. PennDOT had asked for the information, with the implication that they'd try to do something about them. Following the meeting today, Allegheny County said they'd get on the ones that they own/maintain ASAP - normally that would mean immediately, now means as winter workload permits. Babcock and Siebert are theirs. Don't know about these new ones. Will keep you all posted. Keep sending them in as you find them, and I'll keep getting them to the proper folks.

2010-11-18 18:05:25

This actually is enough like a drain grate to be worthy of mention. It's an immense hole on northbound Babcock Blvd, just outside Millvale, and only about 100 yards away from the ones I mentioned above on that bridge. It is right in front of #1440.

It's actually a hole-in-the-curb drain that has badly eroded, creating this hole that's big enough to cause trouble to a car that hit it. I can only imagine how big this thing will get over winter.

2010-11-21 17:08:45

I took a trip out to Homestead/Munhall and found this one. As I said in the caption for my Flickr copy of this pic:

9th Avenue at Andrew, in Homestead/Munhall. Note that this is a one-way street, so it is entirely likely one might make a left turn from the left lane here, so this is right in line with a bicycle's path of travel.

2011-01-04 17:13:43

Here's another one Downtown, on 4th Avenue, just as you might want to turn right into the parking garage before Wood Street.

2011-01-27 03:14:24

Top. Sara, any news on this front?

2011-01-27 19:24:34

I provided the original list to PennDOT, Allegheny County and the City last November (?). PennDOT thanked me, said they wished they had all that information earlier in the maintenance season. Allegheny County said thenks, and that they'd get right on it. The City might have said thanks.

I thought this post from Stu might be a "oh wow, they fixed Babcock Boulevard" message, to be honest.

I am adding the new "finds" to the list, and will provide the information to the same three parties next week, if possible.

I suspect we'll see more action (from them) when they are less concerned with snow removal.

2011-01-27 19:33:48

Yet another one on private property: Exiting North Hills Village Mall's north access lane, at the light, in right lane as you go past Staples, is one JUST LIKE THAT HORRID ONE in the first photo, page 1. Monstrous slots, perfectly in line with line of travel.

Sorry, no photo. I was (gasp) driving.

2011-01-29 20:53:03

From a tweet; sorry no photo.

Holycrap! Horrid longitudinal drain grate in bike area of Chartiers Creek Bridge on Windgap Ave. Recently rebuilt bridge, there's no excuse!

2011-02-11 14:41:46

Update on a couple of outstanding problems:

* 40th Street Bridge, northbound scupper, not yet fixed

* No change to those couple on Babcock just outside Millvale, or the big hole.

* The nasty grate down by the former Gateway T station is gone

* This one, in front of 4135 Bigelow Blvd, appears to be getting bigger. Compare this (taken today, 2/19/2011) with the one taken in 2009:

in front of 4135 Bigelow Blvd, Oakland

2011-02-20 01:22:07

In another year it will be large enough to swallow a car tire, then it'll get fixed.

2011-02-20 03:57:26

It looks like they painted the curb.

2011-02-20 13:26:34

Tripoli and Middle, North Side

Tripoli and Middle, North Side

The slots are only half the problem. There is a huge depression for this that would potentially flip a bicycle, and it's right in the middle of where one turns.

There are two of these, one on the NE corner, one on the NW corner (shown).

The slots aren't that wide, but if you had a road tire in the 25-or-less range, you could well drop into this.

There are probably 50 of these around the city; I counted at least 10 while riding around the North Side.

2011-04-03 22:04:43

Fortunately, that one is now gone.

What I worry about is someone fairly new to road riding hitting one of these straight on, resulting in serious injury. You don't have to fall completely into one, just hit it at a bad enough angle to cause loss of control.

2011-04-04 00:51:26

What happened to me.

I was riding close behind a car and didn't see that grate until the last moment. I pulled up on the front to avoid a front wheel death flip but, my back wheel got sucked it.

2011-04-04 02:10:12

I'll touch base with the County again. I should see them on Thursday. They claimed that they were waiting for the end of the plowing season to make some manpower available. Should be close to that time now, right?

2011-04-05 00:12:58

Took a breakfast ride I've been wanting to take for a while, up the hill to eat at Hot Metal Diner on 837 in West Mifflin.

Coming back, on 837 North, on the new bridge built with stimulus money, I saw the worst bike-eating drain gratings I've ever seen.

Here's the location:

Here's the picture:

It's in Hays, which I believe is different from Pittsburgh. There's 5 or 6 of them. It's an accident/injury waiting to happen.

2011-04-17 22:21:32


The Allegheny County Department of Public Works reports that they have fixed the problem grate on Neville. They will be addressing the multiple grates on Babcock in Millvale in the very near future. While it seems like they took a long time to get to this, it is fair to say that the winter presented an obstacle to this work, and their ability to get staff to it. They were very responsive once I resubmitted the list to them earlier this month.

PennDOT also reports that they will be rectifying several bridge grates (scuppers) on a number of bridges in the region. A work order has been created for the task, but I don't know the timeframe. I also do not know (at this time) which bridges will be addressed first, or how many in total. But, PennDOT is at the table in looking at these matters.

Hopefully, this is the start of a series of updates on "successes" in getting road hazards addressed.

2011-04-23 12:23:44

Chester Ave & Holyoke St, North Side, 2 of 'em. Baby buggy eaters, if nothing else.

Chester Ave & Holyoke St, N Side, 2 of 'em

For these ones on quiet neighborhood side streets, I invoke the concept of the Popsicle Index. No, they are not big deals for commuter cyclists flying along behind a bus at 22 mph, but in terms of the 8yo kid trying to get to the friend's house two blocks away, in one piece, yes, these matter. Ten years from now, those 8yo kids who are dissuaded from riding bicycles as basic transportation while growing up, become 18yo adults entirely dependent on cars for getting around because they never rode a bike.

2011-04-23 16:27:44

I mentioned this one a few weeks ago. Today I got a good photo of it.

Windgap Avenue, bridge over Chartiers Creek and railroad tracks. Just like that one on the 40th Street Bridge, there are scuppers all over the place with diagonal slots, and then just this one, wide enough to eat some MTB tires.

Windgap Avenue, bridge over Chartiers Creek and railroad tracks

2011-04-27 17:30:03

My trip to Crafton also included a trip from Crafton, accomplished by pushing the bike up the outbound/westbound sidewalk along Steuben Street. I don't know exactly where the border is between the City and Crafton, but there are six drain grates between the Middletown Road split and Union Ave. Here are four of them. The problem is less the longitudinal slots and more the four-inch drop into the drain. The fact that most are on the inside of a curve headed down a steep hill serves to hide them.

All of these clearly have "Allegheny County" stamped on them.

#3 of 6, headed west, at Stratmore Street (I didn't photograph #1-2)

Steuben St drain grates, #3 of 6

#4 of 6, just up from Grace Street

Steuben St drain grates, #4 of 6

#5 of 6, opp Grace Street

Steuben St drain grates, #5 of 6

#6 of 6, at Union Avenue.

Steuben St drain grates, #6 of 6

2011-04-27 17:40:43

i went to oakland on my lunch break, and pulling onto sennott street from bouquet, there's a big manhole cover (that i'm nearly certain was solid yesterday) that is now slatted nearly parallel to the road. i'm pretty sure this is new, and in an area where i see bikes every time i happen through, it seems pretty boneheaded to have done this. i didn't stop for a picture, though.

2011-04-29 16:59:16

Here's a new one, and on a main drag: East North Ave, eastbound, opp Sandusky, in the shadow of Allegheny General Hospital. The photo is looking westbound.

That slot is exactly where a bicycle tire would be. The grate itself is fine, except for its shifting sideways an inch and a half, wide enough to eat any road tire.

East North Avenue opposite Sandusky Street

2011-05-26 17:14:50

Not one of your higher traffic streets, but still, it's aligned with the curve in the street and has full slots.

North Point Drive, under the West End Bridge, next to the Cardello Building and near the Casino.

North Point Drive near West End Bridge

2011-06-07 18:59:44

More North Side drain love. There are too many to document over this side of town, but while I was getting Round 19 on the Wheelset game, I thought I'd pick up this one, too. Jacksonia and Buena Vista Streets, NE corner, westbound:

Jacksonia and Buena Vista Streets, North Side

Again, this one is more a problem for baby buggies and wheelchairs than bicycles, but the potential for cyclist trouble is undeniable.

In fairness, the wheelchair ramp does not line up with the grate, but if someone went off the edge of the curb instead of using the ramp, they'd hit this straight on. Think 7-year-olds on 16"-wheeled bikes rolling alongside a parent who's more minding the 4yo having a tantrum.

2011-07-01 13:54:49

Died as a result of "was not wearing a helmet".


2011-07-16 04:25:55

There are plenty of helmet threads if you want to dig one of them up... but it's not terribly relevant to this discussion.

2011-07-16 04:38:04

"ran over a Western Avenue culvert" on a motorcycle isn't exactly a longitudinal drain grate issue for cyclists. I'm missing the relevance to this discussion.

2011-07-16 04:55:39


Not grate.

2011-07-16 05:27:40

I'd like to see a photo of the exact thing this guy hit.

True, what matters to motorcyclists may not also be a problem for bicyclists, but there's that grey area for someone buzzing around on a 50cc scooter for which some of these might just be a problem, too.

Also, FWIW, of the various items I've reported over the almost three years of this thread, I really haven't seen much progress. We're halfway through the construction season, and I can't think of a single fix to any I've reported. The 40SB one (reported May 2009) was still there about 10 days ago.

2011-07-16 09:21:59

Here's another story with more details.

Based on the description of the curve and the location, I'd guess he hit this culvert, but there's not enough info to tell for certain.

Seems like the cause here wasn't holes in the road, but a rider who just lost control and ran off the road and into an obstruction.

2011-07-16 10:24:35

Ok, I misunderstood what he hit. The initial story said "ran over a culvert" (which doesn't make much sense in retrospect) and i translated it to "grate".

and, apparently its also not the same "Chartiers" I thought it was. Double fail.

2011-07-16 13:19:24

I did kind of wonder how f'd up a grate would have to be to throw a motorcycle - although I think some of the sunken ones could do it, especially where big gaps open up. The reason I posted about it was I thought someone getting killed on one of these things might actually spawn some action.

2011-07-16 13:33:35

I could definitely see problems with a sunken grate for a motorcyclist. Big endo at high speed.

2011-07-16 14:35:00

So, yesterday I went and checked out the missing grate I reported to 311, it's on Stanton right about where it turns into lake, just past the tennis courts.

I was appalled at the "solution" - instead of replacing the grate they installed a metal plate. I am hoping this is temporary but I'm worried because it is weirdly cemented in place. The problem is, it is not even remotely flush with the road surface. The saving grace is it is in the brick gutter so no one should be riding there, but it would not be a pleasant thing to hit. Well, it is better that the gaping hole that was there before I guess. Sorry, I didn't take a picture.

2011-07-19 01:07:25

Quizbot, your cause of death is inaccurate. The article states he died from "blunt force trauma." It did not state he died from blunt force trauma to the head. That's akin to saying "The cyclist was hit by a truck. He wasn't wearing a helmet." Unless you have evidence otherwise, you're making a leap

2011-07-19 02:43:21

I grates in Hays that Vannevar mentioned (7months ago) have finally been replaced with safe ones!

I think they were replaced sometime this week.

2011-12-11 22:34:09

Thanks for the update, Andrew.

2011-12-12 00:18:29

Yay, progress!

It sure would be nice if we'd get progress on some others. *I* know to avoid the half dozen I regularly encounter (Babcock Blvd, 40SB, a couple of slightly shifted grates on Perry Hwy between Pines Plaza and CCAC North), but woe to anyone else. Some of these have been reported for going-on-three years.

2011-12-12 00:49:01

Thanks for the news, Andrew.

2011-12-12 01:09:42

This one is sure to warm the cockles of Swalfoort's heart: I absolutely fell into this one this afternoon, unintentionally too. Sixth Avenue at that little alley that's just downhill from the front door of the Regional Enterprise Tower.

I was headed uphill on Sixth, then turned behind a stopped bus to head down the alley to get to my bus stop at Seventh Avenue, and my front wheel dropped right into it. Of course I came to a complete standstill. Fortunately I was hardly moving, and more fortunately traffic was stopped, but yes, these can be really annoying.

Sixth Ave by Regional Enterprise Tower

2012-04-02 22:29:20

Stu - I came off a curb by whole foods to get on the road and hit one of these too. Sent me over the bars, pinch flatted my tire, put a nick in my front rim (which I was able to hammer flat).

2012-04-03 12:59:04

@Stu; I'll report this one to the City, but I suspect they'll come back to me with "well, there's nothing TECHNICALLY wrong with it...."

@Ben; don't know that City/County/State will be too concerned with a grate that is misaligned for cyclists coming off a curb (as in an unanticipated movement), especially if works for cyclists in the predominant flow of traffic.

But, I'll call the one into 311, and if Ben gets me the info on the one near Whole Foods, I'll add it to the list.


2012-04-03 13:14:50

I had been ignoring these all along, as 99.9% of the time they aren't a problem. I just didn't expect to be that 0.1%, and RIGHT in front of where you work. If the bus had been 15 feet back of where it was, I wouldn't have tried to make it down Montour Way in the first place. Had it been 15 feet farther down Sixth, I would have missed the grate entirely.

Short answer, they really need to start swapping out ALL the slotted drain grates, even this design.

Meanwhile, I patiently await action on 40SB, Ingomar at Harmony, Babcock in Millvale by the Shop & Save, etc. ... I know not to fall into them, but they're out there waiting for some other unsuspecting cyclist.

"Unanticipated movement": That's CarThink. No, cars would not drive off curbs or pull 180s in the middle of Sixth Avenue, but bikes do it all the time. I drive off the curb in front of City-County Building every time I leave there, since there are too many pedestrians at the corner to comfortably merge with traffic. The point to be made is that slotted drain grates can be a problem, even where it is not intuitively obvious that it is a problem.

@Benzo, please get a photo of yours, if you could?

2012-04-03 14:29:02

I found this doozy in a "bicycles need not apply" housing development on the South Side, Franklin Square, right off of South 17th Street. Probably private property, but literally a couple hundred yards from the SSide trail. This is right on the driveway going into the place.

Franklin Sq on Sside

2012-04-05 17:21:12

McKees Rocks has a few of these, too. This one is on Rox Way at Third Ave, which almost lines up with Russellwood.

Rox Way at Third Ave, McKees Rocks

Visible also on SV.

McKees Rocks is such a flat area (with the exception of one tall hill in the center), and the whole town is posted 25 or even 15, so I'm surprised they aren't just crawling with bicycles. This might be part of why they aren't.

(Yes, that's my car in the background.)

2012-04-08 19:48:15

I don't know how I never noticed this one before, for the dozens of times I've ridden past it.

Perrysville Avenue at East Street, northbound, across from Perry Traditional Academy. It's not the worst condition I've ever seen, but if you were making the hard right off of Perrysville onto East, and cutting it close to the curb, you could catch one of these outer slots.

Perrysville nb at East St

2012-04-12 01:31:11

Iowa at Rampart, Hill District.

I will have to admit that this one is fairly low priority, as it only takes you to a sidewalk that ends 40 feet later where the street ends. Still, you have to wonder, would anyone in the house whose driveway is adjacent ever use a bicycle?

Iowa at Rampart, Hill District\\

2012-04-15 12:47:27

I can't believe nobody's reported this one before. I can't believe nobody's reported being hurt by this one before.

Where Alexis Street hits the Panther Hollow Trail is a perfectly placed wheel eater right on the connection between street and trail.

Here's the picture I took:

Alexis St at Panther Hollow Trail

...and here is the view from Google StreetView, coming off the trail (in this case, the parked car was doing people a favor):,+Pittsburgh,+PA&hl=en&ll=40.427229,-79.950311&spn=0.000548,0.001321&sll=40.427306,-79.950224&sspn=0.002307,0.005284&t=h&hnear=Alexis+St+%26+Panther+Hollow+Trail,+Pittsburgh,+Allegheny,+Pennsylvania+15207&z=20&layer=c&cbll=40.427306,-79.950224&panoid=kSSrJ1XuoM_FuMFc-8qQYQ&cbp=12,69.28,,0,0

The blue balloon was from the Earth Day ride from Chatham U to Phipps Conservatory.

2012-04-23 01:38:57

In addition, I saw a couple of real nasty holes alongside drain grates on outbound Fifth Avenue near WQED. One is just before the studio, one is just a bit after. Did not get pictures, but watch out!

To clarify, I think the grates themselves are OK, but the road adjacent to them has degraded to being a serious hazard.

Probably 311 material, but I don't want to report it without an exact position, which I don't have. Could someone else please do this?

2012-04-23 01:44:35

There's a couple in the shoulder that run parallel to the road on Beatty Rd. in Monroeville between Rivertowne and the CCAC campus (otherwise nice road to ride on).

2012-04-23 01:50:55

Few things grind my gears more than to see one of these replaced when they could have done something about it. This one is in freshly repaved Columbia Avenue in West View. It's on the uphill side of the street, so a law-abiding cyclist would hit this at fairly low speed. A stupid cyclist, OTOH, coming down the hill on the wrong side, would hit this at some speed.

Look closely at the close-up photo. That is fresh sand just to the left, meaning they JUST put this in place (photo taken June 7 2012), and an even closer inspection shows a fresh 2x4 under the grate. Why you would have a 2x4 in a drain grate in the first place, I don't know; maybe it's temporary?

A glance at StreetView shows it isn't new, it's been there a while (image date Sept 2007), but it's exactly in the wrong place, and needs to be replaced ASAP.

Columbia near Center, West View

Close-up of new Columbia/Center grate

2012-06-10 22:02:12

2 by 4 is a bed for a concrete work. Should be removed as soon as concrete got strong enough. I guess someone was lazy...

2012-06-11 03:04:56

Another one that I myself nearly fell into at low speed. I had just taken the garden pic for the Wheelset thread (link), and was wobbling away across West Ohio at a near stall. I crossed the grate with less than 30 degrees variance from the alignment of the slots as I tried to avoid the curb (originally aiming for the curb cut up to the sidewalk but wavered too far left).

Brighton & West Ohio, southbound

Follow-up to edmonds59: No, my son wasn't near Frick or Allegheny Buildings the last couple of days, but he will be at the Anthrocon by the Convention Center for the next few. If he has a bike with him, it's his old brown Huffy with the newly replaced 3-speed IGH and a yellow U-lock.

2012-06-14 21:06:37

There is a terrible one on Greenfield Avenue (not so much because of the grate itself, but because there's a growing gap between it and the pavement) that I keep meaning to 311. I rode past it again today.

2012-06-14 22:16:13

That reminds me of the grate along Boundary St about half way up the hill

It looks like a dungeon or something

2012-06-14 22:24:46

I haven't reported any of these yet, but this one here is wicked deadly and needs immediate attention, on West Carson Street outbound, 1600 block, right near the strange fuel station. Deteriorated pavement beside the grate, just the right size to eat a wheel, right where you need to be paying utmost attention to 2 lanes of speeding traffic.

2012-07-02 11:27:44

Didn't they just redo this stretch of WCarson in 2009 or so? And the pavement is crumbling already?

2012-07-02 13:22:44

This one is in such a high traffic area, I'm surprised nobody has noticed it before. It's not the worst one out there, but it's enough to give you a pinch flat.

Sennott at Bouquet, Oakland. If you make the left off of Bouquet onto Sennott, this is just as you are completing the turn, and the slots are almost perfectly aligned for that.

Sennott at Bouquet, Oakland

2012-07-30 08:23:58
Here's another one I'm surprised nobody has pointed out before. At least I don't think it has been. On the CMU campus, as you round the back of University Center, into the parking lot that shares an entry with the exit to the big parking garage, right in line with the path of travel out to Forbes Ave, is this little darling: CMU campus by exit from parking garage
2013-03-03 12:49:36
Lovely! Thanks for posting them. I'll try to get someone on them.
2013-03-03 13:50:00
Ross Park Mall is not an area where one would bicycle that often, but on a trip around the mall today, I found this lovely example. Two photos: The first shows how wide the gaps are. The second (I hope) shows that it is right in the path of travel. Ross Park Mall drain grate Ross Park Mall drain grate in proximity with traffic flow Where it is: If the mall was a clock face from the air, and the walkway from the PAT bus stop is at 6 o'clock, this is at 7 o'clock. I circled the mall. This was the only one I saw, but I wasn't looking for these, but rather bike racks. Note the mall security truck chilling in the background in the top picture. They didn't say a word to me, even though the bike was in the slot fully five minutes while I took and uploaded the two pictures.
2013-03-31 17:52:21
Don't have a picture, but I noticed a really obnoxiously stupid one this weekend: Where the Strip District trail meets the stub of 21st St, there is a diagonal slots grate like the one Stu posted Mar 3 2013, perfectly positioned for a rider making a turn from trail to 21st (or vice versa) to line themselves up and drop in.
2013-05-08 00:06:34
Ramblings at 2:03 a.m.: Now that we have five pages of these, some of them going back five years (and most of them still there), we need better tools to keep track of them. I need to make a map of these. Whatever we use for a marker for each one needs to be able to show a status (fixed, not fixed). Maybe also a spreadsheet, too, like we use for the Tag-o-Rama games. I've also thought about placing some valuation on the amount of danger. That since-fixed monster on Babcock by Northway Mall that inspired this thread is representative of the worst type, and while there are others of the same type in existence, not all are poorly placed. Others may not be able to eat a whole tire but have enough of a depression that they could send you flying or break a wheel. My whole point in starting this thread was to identify the things that make it unsafe to ride a bike, so that they would be fixed, thus removing valid objections to riding a bike in traffic.
2013-05-08 01:12:33
I have a spreadsheet. Not tracking results though. Have photos embedded in spreadsheet. Will continue to remind responsible parties of their need to get after these. Thanks for the reminder
2013-05-08 08:27:19
Another baby buggy eater. West Homestead, 600 block of West 7th Avenue, westbound/downstream. Another one of these edge cases where your chances of hitting it straight on are slim, but you could catch those outer two slots pretty easily if you were either hugging the curb, or a kid riding the sidewalk. My pic: StreetView
2013-05-27 08:45:24
Dang, there are still about 4 really bad recessed grates on railroad street right in front of the police parking lot. Always have to keep a look out here, they are really hard to see at night.
2013-06-14 07:49:31
I brought up this topic at the US DOT public meeting on Tuesday. (Hat tip to @swalfoort for the heads-up about the meeting. @edmonds59 and @erok were also there, among others.) The point I tried to get across is that it's both a jurisdictional issue and one of follow-up. On the latter, even when problems are properly reported, years go by and the problems do not get fixed. On the former, I pointed out that as I ride along and find them, I cannot know and do not care whose road or drain grate it is to fix, not with 132 municipalities, the county and the state owning various roads, plus those on private property. From my perspective, they are all one and the same, and a hindrance to safe cycling. Sitting next to me was an elected official from Swissvale. He said that even if every one of these was known, there is not money in the budget to replace them. $1,000 may not sound like a lot of dough, but they can't even get the roads paved, let alone take on projects such as these. Multiply that by one-hundred-some other tiny towns, and you get an unfixable mess. I think this struck a chord in the man moderating the meeting. Here was someone (me) pointing out what seemed like a simple, low-cost fix to a problem that caused the possibility of serious harm, and nobody to fix it, and no way to get them fixed. I asked, aloud, "Can't you, somewhere in that national $21 billion for transportation work, find a half million to replace the worst 500 grates in the area, whosever they are? If it was possible and safe TO get around by bike, maybe more people would try, which would take some of the pressure off of trying to increase lane capacity." At least I'd like to think so.
2013-06-14 14:05:09
I just heard from the city about my 311 report: June 14, 2013, 3:35 p.m. 311 Response Web Form Reply Notification The following reply has been made to Ticket ID #52664: Thank you for submitting to 311. Your request has been sent to PWSA to evaluate and replace the cover. Your request number is 335374. 311 Response Team
2013-06-14 15:09:36
Sounds like progress!
2013-06-14 15:35:30
Next to the Crafton Library and municipal building.
2013-06-16 10:42:55
On River Ave where it meets the 31st St Bridge (near Route 28). Even my wide 38mm tire was easily eaten by this dangerous drain grate. This drain grate appears to be newly-installed.
2013-06-19 08:53:47
Benton at Bascom, in the NW corner of the city. This is on a sharp right turn, from Benton onto Bascom, and the slots line up almost perfectly for a bicycle making the turn. As it happens, the grate is also full of silt, so you will not drop in very far, but it will still mess with your steering.
2013-06-20 03:47:47
Has anyone reported the two on Penn Ave downtown in between 6th and Stanwix? I don't ride there often but I was eaten yesterday.
2013-06-21 07:26:01
Cherry Way (Wm Penn Way) between Forbes and Fourth Aves. In this case, the slots are barely tolerable, but the sight of approaching this, and not realizing you probably won't get thrown, can cause you to swerve out in front of traffic. There is no parking along this curb. Note that this photo is looking upstream; traffic is one-way coming at you here. Despite that, it is quite common for a cyclist to be riding along the left curb, since a left onto Forbes is not legal, so a left onto one-way Fourth to get to Grant Street is quite likely.
2013-06-23 07:50:29
In front of 3445 Babcock Blvd in Ross. This has been here all along, and while I've ridden past it 250 times and thought it far enough out of the way not to be a problem, today I got a little too close to it. Picture is posed, but still, it's the worst kind of grate, and not impossible to nail straight on. Clearly labeled "Allegheny County". It's only a couple hundred yards from the one on page 1, at 3365 Babcock, and less than a quarter mile from the similar one at 3333 Babcock.
2013-06-25 07:35:54
it would appear that Allegheny County is attempting to eat your bicycle, Stu
2013-06-25 22:33:58
@paulheckbert Seeing your photo of the scupper by the 31st Street Bridge reminds me that a longitudinal slot just a couple of feet from there managed to catch me and put me off balance a few days ago. Technically it's on River Ave, at the junction to the 30th St Bridge (that takes you down onto Herr's Landing). Not exactly a drain grate, more a junction in the pavement, but it's several feet long and wide enough to catch me and mess with my steering.
2013-06-26 04:05:22
This one is a bit out of our immediate area -- Jeannette, Westmoreland County -- but there's a story behind it. Year: 1986. I was living in New Stanton. One day, there was a story in the paper about a teenage girl who got killed in a bicycle wreck, no car involved. I remember driving around Jeannette, trying to reconstruct what happened to her. I had the street -- Margaret Street, just off PA130 -- but driving around, I couldn't see what could have caused her to get killed. It's a back alley on a mild grade. They said she lost her brakes, but that didn't really explain it. Today, I was on the motorcycle, and now I can see it. She must have dropped into the slots and went over the handlebars, snapping her neck. If she managed to hang onto the handgrips in going over, the bike may well have pulled back out of the slots, and nobody figured out what happened.
2013-07-13 20:31:41
That's so sad, Stu! I wonder if her parents are still trying to figure this out?
2013-07-14 05:34:23
Gaping drains like this are scary, also - pedestrians could break a leg (this one in front of the He's Not Here Bar & Grill, 3012 Wilson Ave, Campbell, OH)
2013-07-14 21:16:42
Here's one we noticed riding back from exploring the southern arms of the Montour Trail with @fultonco et al. Saturday: at the top of the new segment, there's this grating on Triphammer Road. Probably not enough to eat a person, but could ruin someone's day. I forgot to get a long view of it, but the grating is clearly visible on the satellite image of the intersection as well as on streetview.
2013-07-15 14:49:26
Subtitle this one "Why kids in Ingomar don't ride bikes." Woodland at McCutcheon, 0.1 mile from the Ingomar at Harmony grate mentioned on the first page of this thread. This is on a quiet residential street in Ingomar, NW corner of McCandless Twp. You can see that a cyclist hugging the shoulder, going straight ahead, might well drop into this. This wouldn't be your lycra-clad road warrior flying along at 22 mph. Instead, this would be your 8-year-old kid trying to make a solo trip a quarter mile down a traffic-free street to visit a friend. Kids who don't bike become adults who don't bike. In contrast, the grate on the other side of the intersection is a perfectly safe design.
2013-09-15 12:54:30
Oh, found one on the panera bread ride on saturday.... Corner of chesbro and river ave, could be really bad if you're turning from river on to chesbro or coming off the trail to connect to the 16th st bridge.
2013-09-16 10:12:32
Iona at Diana, Spring Hill. Edit: In my browser (Chrome), just looking at the page, the pic is sideways. I click on the picture, it's right side up. I don't know if this is a browser thing, a rendering thing, an iPhone thing, or merely a PEBCAK issue.
2013-09-18 08:50:57
StuInMcCandless wrote:Edit: In my browser (Chrome), just looking at the page, the pic is sideways. I click on the picture, it’s right side up. I don’t know if this is a browser thing, a rendering thing, an iPhone thing, or merely a PEBCAK issue.
Browser renders pictures. Chrome is smart enough to use EXIF to turn it 90 degrees when you want to look at it as a picture and an not as an element on a page. It cannot do automatic conversion on a page since it does not know if it was done by design or just happens -- it's possible that you are writing a tutorial how to rotate pictures. :) PS I don't use Chrome. It's possible that Chrome has a configuration option how to treat this kind of pictures.
2013-09-18 12:03:49
Another one from my trip through Spring Hill a couple nights ago. Corner of Matthias and Lappe Lane. Again, not the worst offender, but the slots are aligned with the turn, so especially in the dark or dim light, you might not see this and drop right in.
2013-09-20 04:33:32
@Stu: regardless of what browser (in fairness I haven't tried Chrome) or OS I use, your photos are sideways and remain that way after I click them. Are you uploading directly from your phone or from a PC or some other device? On my phone (Android), I can hit the menu key while looking at a photo and there is an option to rotate it. I believe the iPhone should have the same feature, and I know you can do that on a PC easily using the stock image viewer in most operating systems. Here's a possibility: when you hold your phone to take a landscape-style photo, which way do you rotate it? I know on some older phones, if you hold it upright (as you would to talk on it) you can rotate it 90 degrees anticlockwise and it will switch to landscape mode automatically, and the photo will look normal. However, if you rotate the phone 90 degrees the other way, the picture appears sideways by default. Are you by chance left handed?
2013-09-20 07:44:00
Using my Dell laptop, I tried this page under four browsers, with the following results: * Chrome: Photo in post sideways, normal when clicked. * Firefox: Photo in post sideways, sideways when clicked. * IE 9: Photo in post sideways, sideways when clicked. * Safari 6: Photo in post sideways, sideways when clicked. I don't remember which way I had the camera positioned when I took the shot. The iPhone seems to be able to figure out which way I am holding the phone and puts the sky on top, so I don't know why, if this info is somehow embedded in the image, that a browser cannot do it. No, I am not left-handed. I'd just like to be able to rotate the image after uploading.
2013-09-20 08:58:19
Down in McKees Rocks Bottoms, on the side of the tracks farther from the river, we have this one. Leonard St at McKee St, right in line with the path of travel as a rider would turn right from McKee onto Leonard.
2013-10-19 11:12:18
After noticing the one grate on Saturday in the prior post, I took a bike ride down into The Bottoms on Sunday. There must be 10 troublesome grates at various points, and of every type. Too many to post the photographs here! It's a shame, really, as the area is otherwise ideal for cycling: little traffic, low traffic speeds, dead level, very residential. The wavy brick streets might pose a challenge, particularly at night, but grates await any kid who flies off a curb or turns a corner. Needless to say, on a beautiful Sunday afternoon, I hardly saw another bicycle in the area despite riding around for a half hour.
2013-10-21 02:52:59
"Duluth pays $125,000 to settle bike injury lawsuit" The woman hit a recessed manhole cover and was thrown off her bike. She sued the city and they settled even though the woman was not using a light after dark nor wearing a helmet. We should contact her lawyer!
2013-12-17 12:32:55
I'm wondering if the reason the city settled was because they knew about the manhole cover, but didn't do anything about it. There are legal consequences for being able to prove that the city was informed of a danger but did nothing to fix it. I read somewhere there are people who work for lawyers in NYC who document every sidewalk fault, so the lawyers can sue if someone is injured. Which brings me to my question -- are we informing the appropriate municipality of the existence of the dangerous longitudinal storm grates? It might make a difference to someone.
2013-12-17 12:46:58
Jonaweb, I can take that question. Yes, I compile a list with all relevant details, photos, etc., and distribute it to the "owner" of the roadway (usually, City, County or PennDOT). A couple of times a year I take it to a transportation technical committee where I provide the entire list to everyone (City and County Planners, PennDOT, Public Works, etc), and provide an update since the last presentation. (and publicly thank those who have taken action to remedy the situation.) I also share the information when a project is funded, or proposed for funding, to encourage active remediation of such issues. Long slow process, but we do see some action. Sure wish it could be more, and faster, but the wheels of bureaucracy move slowly!
2013-12-17 13:08:06
2013-12-17 13:19:05
Maybe I should go back to the Bottoms with camera and clipboard and mark them all down. Another spot I'm told is bad is Swissvale, but I never get over that way. Maybe this is a group project for 2014: Document ALL the bad grates, even the ones on private property (Eat 'n Park, CMU, NHills Village, etc.), where a cyclist can legally be expected to be. If I recall that discussion with USDOT back in May, I got the impression that while these may all be the responsibility of various boros, etc., the fact that it is so pervasive makes it a group thing, and so dropping $1 million to replace them all begins to sound like a blanket project. So let me throw it out there: Do we have 500? Figure on $2,000 apiece for parts and labor (thumbnail guess), that's a cool million. Maybe where I should start is here, but I might need some help in putting it all together.
2013-12-17 13:44:30
Hmm, but why limit it to the City? Keep it here. Can anyone create/teach me how to maintain a spreadsheet or documentation process that is publicly accessible online? A google doc, perhaps?
2013-12-17 14:21:24
The Wiki would be a good spot for that...
2013-12-17 14:33:19
other people probably know how to do this better than I do, but if you put them on a map they can be annotated and exported... like the crash map or ToR map.
2013-12-17 19:54:50
Swalfoort wrote:Can anyone create/teach me how to maintain a spreadsheet or documentation process that is publicly accessible online? A google doc, perhaps?
Look into GD FusionTables, or similar, and see if you can feed one from a form. Fusion Tables is googledocs' term for a spreadsheet, specific columns of which are specifically marked as a certain kind of data to be made into a visualization---in this case, geographic data which can be automatically plotted on a map. If you can combine that with a gd form (which automatically feeds into a spreadsheet), you can get a form > ss > map workflow that lets you (or "anyone") fill out a form and plot these suckers on a map. you could probably also either export the map or the s/s with geocoded locationdata, too. (there are probably ways to do this in Excel, with MapQuest, etc, but this is the one I'm (semi) familiar with.)
2013-12-25 01:04:28
Yale Cohen dug up some relevant info on this topic worth sharing here. The city published a document in 2005, "Bicycle Facilities Guidelines and Policies", containing recommendations for storm grates, apparently from PennDOT. See Figure 9. PDF of the whole document From Page 19: " Drainage Inlet Grates Drainage inlet grates should be replaced with bicycle-friendly types. Grates that have bars that are parallel to the direction of travel can trap the wheel of a bicycle. Even grates with diagonal bars can be hazardous to bicyclists. These types of grates can trap a bicycle wheel if, when located on the corner of an intersection, the bars are oriented so that the slots are parallel to the wheel of a turning bicycle. If bicycle-friendly grates cannot be installed in a timely fashion, then steel straps should be welded to the existing drainage inlet grates at 4-inch intervals, center-to-center, perpendicular to the parallel bars. Drainage inlets should also be flush with the pavement surface. " So it would appear this document has been gathering dust on a shelf for nine years. Both the city and PennDOT had the right idea that long ago. It doesn't take an engineering degree to figure out that the county would similarly be on board. This message board thread is over five years old, with some of these grates untouched. I continue to be amazed these don't garner more headlines. What is it really going to take to get the right departments to actually get out there and change these? Do we need a formal inventory? I would sooner spend any taxpayer money to switch out the ones we already know about instead of a formal inventory, and I don't want to just do the city, just do one of 130+ municipalities at a time. [That image took maybe 20 minutes to put together in Paint, adapted from here.]
2014-02-23 08:23:37
Article NSFW btw. OUCH! I've had a couple grate crashes, but that takes the cake.
2014-03-21 09:23:12
6627 Forward Ave, Squirrel Hill on the north side of the road, as you climb the hill:
2014-04-06 22:27:49
crossing Liberty Ave in Bloomfield at Cedarville St in Streetview: my 38mm tire slipped right in the slots:
2015-01-19 02:20:13
Keep 'em coming, folks. Come to think of it, I probably have one or two on my phone that I never uploaded. Someone mentioned a map of these at one point. @swalfoort, was that you? (I see the reference at the top of this page. Possibly there was another a few pages back on this thread, but I'm too lazy to look.) Probably we need to get @erok to add a link to it to the top post on the thread, and/or a spreadsheet, a la Tag-o-Rama.
2015-01-19 09:41:13
Dangerous longitudinal sinkholes? McKean St & S 2nd St, along the Southside bike trail. (wasn't this bad a year ago, when Streetview photographed it)
2015-07-26 16:53:05
311 that puppy, if you haven't already. I like to pose a bike in the picture and tweet it in, via @pgh311, showing proximity to the path of travel.
2015-07-26 16:58:50
I still keep finding new ones. There's a nasty one up in Fineview -- I wish I could remember the street corner, but I was on motorcycle, running late for an appointment. It was on the inside of a turn, with diagonal slots lined up with the direction of the turn. Someplace else I was in the past week, whoever I was with took a photo of his bike with the front wheels buried up to the hubs. Maybe in Presston on Labor Day? Again, I think there are too many to count, in certain parts of town, in otherwise very chill, bikeable neighborhoods.
2015-09-10 10:32:49
there was this one, spotted during the Labor Strike Ride: Nichol Ave & Ohio St, McKees Rocks bottoms
2015-09-10 13:43:11
Wind Gap Bridge, inbound to chartiers neighborhood. Anyone know if this is city of Pittsburgh, county, or penndot?
2015-09-14 14:27:41
Weird thing is that it's only this one grate. All the others are diagonal.
2015-09-14 14:30:44
Looks like Windgap Bridge, though not either of the connecting roads, is owned by the County, based on this 2008 document (PDF) suggesting it as one of a number of roads and bridges that should be transferred to the state.
2015-09-14 15:17:26
Thanks, Sent an email to allegheny county dpw with google map link and image.
2015-09-15 11:27:28
Thanks, @Benzo. I thought that grate sounded familiar. I posted a photo on this thread on April 27, 2011, and a text post on Feb 11, 2011. Why is it taking years to fix these?
2015-09-16 03:26:38
Big improvement at McKean St & S 2nd St since July: the broken sawhorse has been replaced. The storm drain sinkhole is unchanged, however.
2015-10-06 22:09:15
Reply from penndot about my concern about the longitudinal drain grates on 40th street bridge: Customer concern 20150925-D11-A2PK57 for Benjamin has been closed. Closing Comments: Thank you Benjamin for alerting us to the possible need for bicycle safe grates on the 40th bridge. We are currently looking into the matter and considering possible methods to have the grates retrofitted or replaced. Thank you
2015-10-07 06:53:22
I rode the Zoom the Tombs route on Sunday: and found a couple of dangerous grates inside Calvary Cemetery. The slots looked big enough to swallow a 700x28. I'm not sure if contacting the cemetery management will go anywhere, but I'll give it a shot.
2015-10-07 09:36:50
Been having trouble posting...trying again: Liberty, in front of August Wilson Ctr, between Smithfield & Wm Penn. [aaaand...of course the damn thing's getting cut off. i give on it to see the whole thing.]
2015-10-09 17:59:32
This bridge has a dangerous longitudinal drain grate - tear it down! (photo from yesterday's bridge-closing party :-)
2015-10-18 21:52:09
Back on page 3 of this thread, five years ago, I proposed a way to categorize these. The diagonal ones are Type 3, though where they are placed has a lot to do with how unsafe they are. If your normal path of travel is to cross these without the wheels turned, then it's not as bad as one in the center of an intersection, like Center at Perry in West View, or one aligned with sidewalk travelers, like Ellsworth at Bellefont, both of which exist, unchanged. I also know of a couple others I haven't posted here yet. (I really need to go through my phone.) My greater annoyance is that some of these have been posted for seven years, and still haven't gotten on anyone's radar.
2015-10-19 10:59:25
S 2nd St & McKean St - where old sawhorses go to die.
2015-11-06 22:13:41
This one could swallow not just a wayward bike tire, but a small child. Logan St just below Shoup St, Millvale. That's a Dirty Dozen hill.
2016-02-02 23:38:35
Went by S 2nd St and McKean yesterday and saw that a new, proper drain grate had been put in where that corner sinkhole is (was?). They still have a sawhorse there, but still, they finally fixed it!
2016-03-08 11:07:35
Yes! Progress! The new storm drain at S 2nd St & McKean St looks like this:
2016-03-09 01:03:26
Doubly dangerous, at Manhattan St and Juniata St, Northside
2016-04-02 10:43:37
"Have you seen me?" Pittsburgh Water & Sewer wants your input. Is your street scheduled to be paved? Help us out by #Drainspotting; replacing broken basins before paving starts
2016-04-08 16:22:19
WPXI had a story of a woman's leg getting trapped in a broken longitudinal grate in Hazelwood today, but I can't find the story on their site. They had to use the jaws-of-life to get the woman's leg free. The grate had been reported to 311 at least three times in the past but Alcosan says they have no record of it being reported; the woman was looking at her phone and didn't notice the grate was broken when she stepped onto it. They also showed another broken grate just up the street from this one. I think the location was Hazelwood and 2nd ave
2016-04-19 17:05:47
Wow. That was at 2nd Ave & Glenwood Ave, actually (not Hazelwood Ave). The video also shows a second broken drain grate at Glenwood Ave & Gate Lodge Way. This incident gives our efforts new importance!
2016-04-19 20:06:30
The nice folks at PWSA already got back to me and said they will review the thread. They also asked that anyone noticing a bad grate to please use the 311 form to report it. Select Utility, then Catch Basins, then be very specific about the location. Form URL:
2016-04-20 08:00:14
Welcome to the Convention Center! Do you want me to call an ambulance? (Penn & 10th)
2016-04-25 14:40:40
Back on Page 3 of this thread, I proposed a category system for these. @ph's grate is Type 3: 3) Grates ... which, by their positioning, are not an immediate danger to travel. There are thousands of that diagonal type, and while they can clearly eat a wheel, that concern is mitigated somewhat by the tall curb. I want to get those changed out, too, but I don't see them as important as the first couple of categories.
2016-04-25 18:26:41
This is Category One, an absolute Must Change ASAP. The irony here is that not five minutes earlier, I left the Shaler Library, where I attended a meeting on making biking safer in Shaler. Mount Royal Blvd, northbound, just past the corner of West Shaw.
2016-05-24 20:31:16
In case it isn't obvious, my kickstand is up, and the bike is being held upright by the front wheel which is fully captured by the leftmost slot. I will say again what I said in 2008: They're all over the place, and will not get fixed until they get recorded and reported. I'm up and down the same roads every day, but don't often get into uncharted territory like this. If I can find a new-to-me one this fast, how many more are still out there?
2016-05-25 05:54:12
2 on uphill section of one wild place. Will obviously be in the bike lane when the lines are drawn.
2016-05-25 06:15:47
Can you get photos, please?
2016-05-25 06:45:07
@edronline, I highly suggest contacting 311 and PWSA about those grates. The latter is particularly responsive through Twitter (@pgh2o)
2016-05-25 07:21:58
If this has been reported before, I am not aware of it. Directly in line with the path of travel from the access point to the 16th St Bridge from the North Shore Trail, at the corner of River Ave and Chesbro Street. Tagged the 311 folks on it, too. That's two I've found in a week, just by going a bit out of my way. Eight years I've been after these! You'd think I'd've run out of new ones to find!
2016-05-31 19:03:31
Couldn't snap a pic because I was in the car but not only are there 2-3 longitudinal drains on the uphill climb of One Wild Place, there are two on the downhill. If someone could snag a pic that would be great. Can't stop to take a pic in a car and rarely if ever bike up that way.
2016-06-04 20:21:51
Just 311ed one wild place. Request ID: 76383
2016-06-04 20:31:04
On 45th, between Garwood and Penn, alongside the Children's Hospital parking garage in Lawrenceville: (In fact, this grate has been broken so long, it's visible (and coned!) on Streetview: Now there's a dumpster across the street, but no cone on the grate...)
2016-06-08 10:29:24
Anytime I go through a new-to-me section of town, I find another one of these. In this case, four, one of them in precisely the wrong place. The first of these is at Spring Garden Ave at Vinial. If you are making the left turn, this is lined up perfectly to eat your bike. The second of these is at curbside just before that, but I nearly fell into it (shown) while turning around to get the first. The third photo shows two of them on the sidewalk in front of the Deutschtown Fire Hall, only a couple hundred feet away from the first two. A kid riding on the sidewalk could easily fall into one of these. I saw more, but did not stop to photograph. At least two are on Concord, interspersed with the loose bricks and the trolley tracks. And I wasn't even looking that hard.
2016-06-22 09:09:49
Didn't read this whole thread, but I know there is one between the rankin bridge and the waterfront enterance. Gotta remember to take the lane there. It's after the merge with the traffic coming from Kennywood. All in all, not the safest stretch of road.
2016-09-10 04:10:20
A cyclist in Greensburg suffers serious injury from one:   I recently suffered a serious injury while biking in Greensburg. As I was pulling out to Main Street, my front wheel fell into a hole in the grate of a catch basin. I flipped over onto the pavement, shattering my elbow and hitting my head hard (requiring CT scan). I thought that was the ball game. Some kind Samaritans carefully moved me to the sidewalk, where I waited for the ambulance to take me to the hospital. I had surgery to repair the displaced elbow, which required a metal plate and pins installed in my arm. Though the surgery was successful and the physiotherapy helpful, I still have a permanent deficit in my arm's range of motion. I do not believe that such an accident was a fluke. I believe that these catch-basin grates pose a serious hazard for bikers navigating city streets. I wrote this to warn other unsuspecting bikers who ride their bikes on the streets of Greensburg. These grates can be found on most streets, and the holes in the grate are wide enough for a bike tire to fall into. Gary Klinga Greensburg  
2016-09-18 09:43:59
Of course, since it is the trib, the troll Facebook comment underneath: Very sorry that you were hurt and I respect you letting others know about the grates but, it's your responsibility to judge the safety of your intended path. Always be aware, not "unsuspecting". We don't need a push to replace the grates.
2016-09-18 15:50:04
My guess is that if there was a pothole in the lane of travel big enough to damage her car this commenter would be storming the gates of the city, county, state to get it fixed.
2016-09-18 15:51:24
Thank you for the suggestion. I responded as follows: We DO need a push to replace grates like this. This is the bicycle equivalent of a pothole three feet across and 18" deep. If you hit a hole that big with your car, and reported it, PennDOT or whoever would be on the scene in less than an hour to patch it. Grates like this are dangerous by design. Replacing one would likely cost about as much as a "rough road" road sign. One more thing to consider: Most of these are on the edge of the road. The best way for a cyclist to avoid them is to get squarely in the center of the lane, and stay there. This applies to two-lane roads, as well. Your job as a motorist is to expect, tolerate, and respect this choice, which is fully in keeping with state vehicular law. Paul H also added a reference to the April 2016 case of a woman getting her leg trapped in one.
2016-09-20 17:13:21
This one is in West View. While it is not likely to catch a road cyclist, a kid cycling along next to a parent, or someone in a wheelchair, is going to have a problem. The curb cut lines up perfectly with the slots for the crosswalk. Perry Highway at Chalfonte, northeast corner.
2016-10-06 21:31:12
Taking a step back, I have to take a look at the bigger picture here. This thread is over eight years old. Some have been fixed, most have not. Anytime I get off my usual paths of travel, I find a new one. As the man in Greensburg demonstrated, you can get seriously hurt on these. It would be in the city's {county's, each township or boro's, even PennDOT's} best interest to make a push to identify ALL of these and replace them. Elsewhere in this thread are links to maps of existing known grates, and a scale for grading which should be replaced first. What do we need to do to get this on official get-this-done lists? Is this a Kristin Saunders thing? Bike-Pgh's? The county Sustainable Development Manager's? Do we need coordination among the city, county and 130 townships and boros? (Answer: Probably, but I won't wait for it.) Do we need funding in the state road budget? (Answer: Yes.) Should this also include areas outside Allegheny County? (Answer: Yes.) In short, this needs to be somebody's to own this. Find them all, categorize for seriousness, figure out who owns each, arrange for replacement, arrange for funding, then assign the work. Bids, union requirements, whatever, whoever, I don't care. Just fix the damned things, and have it all done by the start of the 2018 season. By the 10th anniversary of this thread in October 2018, we can have a big celebrationn about really having made the streets safer.
2016-11-26 21:39:15
Remember Service Request #74652, the River at Chesbro grate? (Scroll up, this page.) Unchanged in six months. Reported May 31.
2016-11-28 09:51:22
I confirmed with PWSA that these should all be reported to them. Twitter works well: they're @pgh2o.
2016-12-01 13:40:08
Essen at Gershon, North Side. Someone following the rules precisely will have no problem. The person doing something slightly odd, such as a kid riding against traffic across the intersection, could drop right in. This design is common, and most places, you can get away with it. Places like this, what should be a quiet neighborhood, a T intersection at a stop sign, is inherently dangerous precisely because of these. That nobody is falling in them is because of the inherent danger that helps keep kids, and everyone else, off their bikes at all. Get rid of these reasons not to ride, and more people will ride.
2016-12-04 11:36:16
Only took 6.5 months...  To get put on the inspection list. The service request ID#: 76383 that you filed on 6/4/2016 9:30 PM has been closed by mmadero Service Request Details ID 76383 Date 6/4/2016 9:30 PM Type Collapsed Catch Basin Address 82 ONE WILD PL, Pittsburgh Comments One wild place There are at least two drain grates in both directions (uphill and downhill) which have the grates in the direction of traffic. This is dangerous for bicycles who are trying to keep over to the side but run the risk of getting their tires stuck in the grates while riding. Closing Comments W/O 653085 ON OUR INSPECTOR'S LIST THANK YOU. Thank you for reporting this, it has been assigned a work order number and will be addressed. If you have any questions please email  
2017-01-07 12:12:55
or, it was already on the list but they only just got around to responding to your particular ticket.  not great either way, though.
2017-01-07 13:11:27
Well, I'm sure they're out inspecting today.  And if not, tomorrow.  And it'll be fixed by Monday. They're making sewers great again.
2017-01-07 16:47:06
I have found some in Aspinwall. Field Ave. between 3rd St. and 2nd St. View from field parking on the right. Western Ave at 2nd St. Across Freeport Rd. from Eastern Ave. (Sunoco gasoline station/convenience store).
2017-05-22 20:29:21
Of those three, the third is worse than the other two. None of the type with big, gaping slots are OK, but in the first two cases, the chances of someone encountering them at the right angle to be dangerous is minimal. The third, I can easily see someone traveling straight at the camera from that traffic lane, and there it is, lined up perfectly to swallow a wheel, whole, and throw the rider. Go back to page 3 of this thread, and find my post from Oct 16, 2010, in which I try to categorize the various types. I name six in that post, and a seventh a few posts down. I think what I need to do is finish the project I started a few months ago of indexing, geolocating, and categorizing them. I know I had over 100, and we've found many more since.
2017-05-22 20:43:23
Zzwergel, go on the Aspinwall boro website and email one of the councilperson?s plus the borough manager re the drain
2017-05-22 21:22:34
Just walked by the field Ave drains. I think they aren't dangerous. One is right in the middle of the road (easily seen and avoided) and the slots are 45 degrees to the direction of a wheel. And the one off to the side is on the left side of a one way road. I don't think Aspinwall will do anything about those and they may then blow off the more important one outside of the Sunoco.
2017-05-23 11:23:13
Remember Service Request #74652, the River at Chesbro grate? (Scroll up, this page.) Unchanged in TWELVE months. Reported May 31, 2016. The above text was copied from my November 28, 2016, post. Still not fixed.
2017-05-28 17:10:33
I find that they respond to only 75 percent of my requests on the website and some are never resolved.
2017-05-29 10:54:27
I can't go six months without finding another one of these. This one, well, these three, are in Sharpsburg, a town I had never properly investigated by bike, despite it being just off my usual path of travel. Main and 8th Street, on three corners.  
2017-10-22 19:29:08
Hope people are paying attention to PWSA's #drainspotting campaign. Could be a great way to help speed up the process  
2017-11-29 11:45:33
of course this would only work in the pwsa service range
2017-11-29 11:56:05
I have a spreadsheet on some computer I own, listing every one of the 100-ish grates mentioned on this board since Oct 2008.  Some have been fixed, some haven't. Some are in PWSA's area, some are not. I will commit to finding that list and making it public. Maybe someone(s) can help with geocoding the locations, mapping them, and ascertaining their current status. One thing that isn't ours to do is know what's PWSA's area and what isn't. Just find 'em, get 'em listed, and only then figure out who to call to get 'em fixed. I have a separate gripe about grates that were reported years ago, or reported multiple times, which haven't been touched.
2017-11-29 12:22:40
great! It's not clear to me if they are fixing all grates, or just the "broken" ones. We can argue that the bike-dangerous grates are "broken" Can't hurt to let them know about them
2017-11-29 14:13:36
I got one by Ikea in Robinson Twp. Upon tuning left off of the driveway near the bus stop, you are greeted by this Good thing I saw this before I went over the handlebars and my wheel got bent.
2017-11-29 16:51:29
I got an actual phone call about this today, thanking me for my description of the situation and where it was located. They were to have a crew look at the two of them this afternoon. I'll check this weekend when I can see in daylight whether they fixed them already or not.
2017-12-06 16:55:16
What agency'fixes these outside of the city?
2017-12-06 17:07:53
Depends. This one is PennDOT.
2017-12-06 17:38:50
Just received this email: To: Date: December 8, 2017, 12:26 PM Customer concern 20171205-D11-ATRPJP for Stuart Strickland has been closed. Closing Comments: These grates have been repaired. Thank you for the concern. Thanks and have a good weekend.
2017-12-08 20:42:02
Were they actually fixed?
2017-12-10 12:26:32
Yes. Both.
2017-12-10 17:20:16
I am surprised. If they can do that, why can't sidewalks on bridges ever get swept to clear them of broken glass, garbage, and other debris that can puncture a bike or wheelchair tire? Why is this glass there to begin with? Why can't that garbage stay in the car until someone can place it into a proper receptacle like a garbage can or recycling bin?
2017-12-10 19:52:40
Happy 10th anniversary to this thread! The first post was October 4, 2008. And today I found another one! On my coffeeneuring trip to North Park, there's another one with the huge in-line slots on the shoulder of Pearce Mill Road, a couple hundred yards up from the corner with Babcock. Clearly marked as Allegheny County's. Sorry, didn't get a pic. Some time ago, I started to put together a spreadsheet of the 100 or so entries in this thread. Then I changed jobs and life got busy. I would love to hand this project off to younger hands, to map them all, track down the status of every one of these, and start getting in people's faces to get these fixed. Maybe even line up funding from somewhere. I'm amazed we haven't had any more wrecks. I know they happen, but we never hear about them. And we haven't even identified all the grates yet!
2018-10-14 21:47:52
I also noticed a few broken grates in the gutter of the northbound shoulder of McKnight Rd. just north of Ross Twp. Junction. Also beware of the rumble strips. I have recently made a series of videos dealing with various McKnight Rd. related cyclist issues such as avoiding the highway off ramps in both directions just north of McKnight Rd.'s southern terminus at Evergreen Rd. I'll post these in a new thread.
2018-10-15 00:02:27
Dangerous longitudinal drain grate! On Murray Ave just north of Forward Ave, in Squirrel Hill. This one is probably more of a danger to pedestrians than to cyclists.
2018-12-21 19:54:01
Ten years in, I'm still finding them! Sat for 10 minutes on a railing on Penn at 23rd, counted three bikes going the wrong direction, one on the sidewalk. This would be a major hazard.
2019-04-17 18:46:30
Just ate poop on one of these, went over the bars. I had no idea they were capable of eating a bike wheel ! It's by the Mckees Rocks boys and girls club, destroyed my helmet, and my apple watch. Other than a scraped shoulder came out pretty well unhurt. The one on the right got me.  
2019-07-04 20:54:45
And thank you for documenting a case of someone actually getting hurt on one of these. N.B.: Is the attachment widget finally working? (also, note to myself to get that one @salty discovered on Beechwood by Lyndhurst)
2019-07-05 06:25:53
There is a grate right in the middle of Comrie Way between Friendship Ave. and Cullen St. It can be easily bypassed by staying on Friendship Ave. to Torley St. to Cullen St. and Back to Comrie Way.
2019-12-26 16:06:10
Hard to believe I'm still finding these, and on a group ride downtown, no less. Exchange Way at Tito, directly behind the Benedum. Try turning right from Exchange onto Tito, and if you start the turn a bit early, you could easily catch the outermost couple of slots here. I'll see if I can grab an actual photo at some point, but I'm not often downtown anymore. I found this one riding with the revived Critical Mass last Friday night. Must have been 30 of us, in the dark, at the time. Nobody could see this coming.,-79.9990001,3a,75y,259.44h,94.43t/data=!3m7!1e1!3m5!1sRC5atxvx0kYiFw-GvMCu9g!2e0!!7i13312!8i6656  
2020-11-05 11:36:15
I am still in town quite a bit, will try to get a photo this weekend..
2020-11-05 18:59:03