Slippery Construction Plates
Every city cyclist knows that metal construction plates can are dangerous. Oils and fluids dripped on it from passing cars, even in minute amounts, can make them dangerously slick. Water pretty well always makes like ice. The harsh corners and placement of them can at times present a flat hazard, or force cyclists to dangerously slow or swerve to avoid them. I think NYC has a cyclist backed piece of legislation that they must be coated in a non-slip surface, and even though it isn’t enforced at least some of the plates are non-slip. Pittsburgh obviously doesn’t have such an ordinance as all I’ve ever seen are bare metal ones being used.
Today, two buses collided as one of them slipped across a construction plate.
It made me wonder if we can’t parlay this into the city at least looking into what it would cost to make them non-slip for liability purposes. I’d imagine the potential liability of some sort of horrific accident due to these, especially when they’ve already been demonstrated as dangerous, would make the cost to spray them down with a non-slip coating look like a deal.
Put your thinking caps on.
gawd. i rode over, well around, those today. didn’t realize that’s where that crash happened. those seemed to be the most bike eating ones i’ve ever seen too, the edge for some reason seemed especially tall, and they didn’t have those inclines on it. i’ve also seen them use railroad spikes so that they don’t slip.
the floors in the kitchens of my school are textured, like this, to help prevent falls:
I’m not sure how well that would work against a rubber tire, but it’s an idea at least. Not sure of the cost of these vs. what we have now though. They work pretty well at school, but the floors are also tile, and not metal.
Cheapest coating that I can think of, which wouldn’t be utterly one-use-only, would be something like the two-part epoxy paint used for garage floor coating. Maybe some sand as an additive, to enhance the non-slip? I don’t know how well that would wear under traffic, however.
It would also be pretty easy to use a buzzbox or a wire-feed welder to run some long beads across the surface of the plates; wouldn’t have to worry about it wearing away in a hurry, but I’m not sure how much fun it’d be to cycle over.
Thanks for posting a reminder about these. I regularly traverse a bad set of them behind the courthouse downtown: diamond way, just past 6th. ugh – hate those.
Ah I was on my way down 5th today at 515 and i had to go over that thing. I was right behind a bus most of the way and when i came up on it, i just had to go over it cause i didnt really see it coming. Luckily i was on a big knobby mtb and I was able to get over it without getting a flat or falling, but if i was on either one of my other bikes, I would have gotten a flat and been pissed, i am sure. I believe i said “oh WTF” to myself out loud. That is a nasty one. I agree that there really should be a law about what is acceptable safety wise. Who can we go to about it?
best to just apply anti-skid tape. road plates are an all-sorts item and it’s best not to apply anything to it that cant be readily removed.
Grip tape would be cheap and easy to do. With the time it takes to apply it, and the cost of it, who cares if it past more than one use? Plus, grip tape can be had in several bright colors to make the plateau visible.
Black and yellow striped grip tape would be a win-win-win-win (bikes, PAT, yinzers, Wiz Khalifa)
stefb has another good observation about these, the chances of pinch flats. These plates are usually about an inch thick and have squared off edges, ideal for causing pinch flats.
Can’t we get them to grind off the sharp leading edge as a regular part of installing these?
I’m happy to report that the plates at the very end of Diamond Way are now gone!
Supposedly they do make such a thing. Found this in Chicago’s 2015 Bicycle Master Plan:
“Ensure that roadway construction zones are bicycle-friendly. Roadwork, including pavement cuts and temporary steel plates over road cuts, can cause bicyclists to fall or skid. The solution is to install temporary steel plates that are skid-proof and flush with the surrounding pavement. Restore pavement surfaces and markings, particularly along designated bikeways, to their original condition as soon as possible.”
Here’s info on these plates in NYC from 2004.
I’ll ask DPW for our City’s policy regarding these plates.
Construction plates that are not skid resistant, anchored or signed are dangerous for pedestrians and bicyclists…
…and buses trying not to plow into the rear of other buses.
It’s a problem that’s been around for a long time.
That looks like the worst bike to ride around all day on. I think colin rode similar ones at triangle? I guess they were functional but They look heavy. Good way to get good exercise.
How not to do it. This beauty is on N Balph Ave going into Bellevue from West View.
I’m seriously ready to raise some significant hell about this at the right level. The drain grate problem, that’s a different animal. You *know* where some are. These, they just pop up anyplace. Maybe it’s a water main break, they had to dig a hole in the street and cover it over real fast, so you have NO idea the damn thing is there until BAM PIFFFFT *shit*!! and you’re changing a tire sitting in a snowbank.
I agree with that. The drain grates are almost always so close to the curb that nobody has any business riding there anyway.
And they often leave these repair plates in place for weeks, even months.
they have just put in a new one at the bottom of the hill by the zoo, heading toward HPB. I used to be able to time the light and keep my speed up through the yield, but that whole right lane at the turn seems to be falling apart (or is being shelled by artillery from some animals in the zoo)
Found out yesterday that the City has a policy that doesn’t specify non-slip construction plates. Add another thing to the pile to try and change.
Still trying to get a copy of the policy to see if there is any language requiring proper ramping etc..
hmmm, non-slip would be nice, but why u guys thinkin these plates r instant flats? just pop each wheel up & onto the plate…then no flats.
And can someone please fix the title of this thread – it’s “slippy” fer cryin’-aht-lahd!
@untameable2 – Not if it’s dark, you don’t know it’s there, and/or you’re going 20+ on a downhill. For comparison, pick up a 15# sledgehammer and take a good crack at your front wheel with a piece of angle iron sitting on it.
I can hop the edges of the plates and all that jazz, but that’s hardly a solution to the problem. Not every rider can handle their bike like that, and not every rider even wishes to handle their bike like that let alone have the ability to do so.
I mean certain very skilled wheelchair users can pop their chairs up and down curbs like nothing else but it would be ridiculous to argue for the abolition of curb cuts because a certain amount of the population they are intended for doesn’t need them to navigate safely.
For sure slippery plates are of no real life comparison to ADA requirements, but it’s a somewhat similar deal.
The solution is adherence by construction firms to a “best practices” document, perhaps buttressed by statute law, to have them grind off the sharp leading edge, and to have some sort of non-skid surface.
This thread started partly in response to a PAT bus accident last week. If Erica had clobbered that plate in Bellevue with her 25# bag of rice over the front wheel, she would have (a) wrecked, (b) blew a tire, (c) covered Balph Avenue with 25# of non-skid rice; (d) more likely all three.
Y’know, there are so many hazards on the roads now that I just don’t go 20+ downhill after dark any more. Not just repair plates, but all kinds of holes.
The threat that really scares me about the repair plates is when they shift, and leave a 2″ longitudinal gap. Imagine dropping a wheel in there.
Basically what brad said.
I’m pretty sure that if I personally tried to hop onto a construction plate while dry, I would be fine, however, add a bit of water or ice to it, and I’ve wiped out. If I had skinny tires, I probably wouldn’t even make it while dry. I’m way too clumsy to have to try to hop over things while on a bike.
I found another one of the stupid variety, this one in the Marshall-Shadeland part of the city. It’s on Shadeland itself, just past Law, on the inbound side. Does anyone make sense out of the inscription welded onto the plate? Is this something that would make sense to some arcane bureaucrat in the city?
the first flat i ever had in pittsburgh was a pinch flat on the corner of one of these… the construction guys felt bad and waved down a bus almost immediately… it was kind of nice and kind of weird.
There is a plate on E Carson st. inbound. Around 13th st. It is fairly easy to avoid but, I figured I would give a heads up.
I was reminded by the old photo that many of these plates are installed by the Pgh Sewer and Water Authority. Yet another agency to be consulted, educated and/or dealt with.
I sent a 311 request, but I don’t think it got there because I received no confirmation.
I was basically requesting that, as part of the requirements of maintaining a highway occupancy permit, contractors should spray in white paint the authority’s initials on the road plate or temporary asphalt patching. That way by seeing PWSA, DLC, VZN or PAAW the person sending the complaint will have the ability to accurately relay if the 311 or 911 operator should contact Pittsburgh Water and Sewer Authority, Duquesne Light Company, Verizon or Pennsylvania American Water, respectively.
How TO do it. Maybe even overkill. But nobody is going to get a flat here. Wm Penn Way at Sixth Avenue, Downtown, looking in the direction of travel.
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