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Approaching storm grates? Here is how to stay safe on your bike

When you ride your bike, you already know that you need to be paying attention to the road and what’s happening around you. You know to look out for potholes and uneven surfaces, as well as vehicles, pedestrians and other cyclists.

Something you also need to be careful around are parallel stormwater grates. On most streets, you’ll see stormwater grates that are perpendicular to the road, not parallel. You might also see grates with a crisscross pattern, as well. However, if there are grates in your area that run parallel to the road or bike lane, they could spell trouble if you ride a city bike with slimmer tires.

Depending on the distance between the grate’s bars, it’s possible that your entire wheel could fall into the grate as you attempt to ride over it. In a worst-case scenario, that accident could throw you off your bike and into traffic. This could result in a serious bicycle accident. In a best-case scenario, your tire will be wide enough to avoid going in completely and getting stuck.

How can you be safe as you approach a storm grate?

It’s a good idea to avoid riding directly over the storm grate, since there is a potential for your tire to get stuck if the bars run parallel to the direction you’re traveling. If the grate is running horizontally as you approach, you should be able to ride over it with no trouble.

As a cyclist, you have the right to be on the main roadway. If you need to move over to avoid an upcoming grate, make sure you use your hand signal, move over and then return to riding. This is the best way to avoid an unnecessary crash with a grate that isn’t bike-friendly.