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Old 09-19-11, 12:20 PM   #1
gmen0101
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Scary moment riding across wet steel grate drawbridge (Fort Lauderdale)

My morning ride consists of crossing two drawbridges that span the intra-coastal waterway. I have been doing this route for about three months and have not had any issues until today. Apparently a rain shower passed over the Commercial Blvd bridge before I arrived since the ground was wet but it was not raining anymore. When my tires hit the steel grating the entire bike started to slide sideways with the rear wheel slipping out to the right more and more as I progressed. Scared the heck out of me. I made it across to the pavement on the other side without falling but it took me completely by surprise.

Another bridge I ride across has a solid surface within the gating, presumably for providing a more stable ride. I cannot believe there is no warning sign, etc. on the bridge(s) that do not have this accommodation. I will either switch over to the sidewalk next time I sense any moisture on the road or just walk my bike across the span in the future.
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Old 09-19-11, 12:46 PM   #2
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Out here on the frontier crossing cattleguards and railroad tracks on a bike in wet conditions can be hazardous.

Last year a frind of mine took a spill crossing over railroad tracks in the rain. Bike went right out from underneath her.

On Stage 2 of the USA Pro Challenge race several riders fell at a cattleguard on Cottonwood Pass.
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Old 09-19-11, 02:24 PM   #3
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You're lucky you didn't fall. At speed those bridge grates are like human cheese graters, not pretty.
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Old 09-19-11, 07:55 PM   #4
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I used to ride over one of those on my trips to my folks' house from college. They're not a lot of fun on a bike and no better on a motorcycle.
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Old 09-19-11, 08:12 PM   #5
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My last wreck was coused by a trolly track as i was makeing a turn my wet tire hit the track slid into the groove and threw me off my bike......lucky i was goen slow! metal and wet tires arnt a good combination iv learned,lol
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Old 09-20-11, 05:57 PM   #6
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Those metal grate drawbridges give me the willies. I always walk across them.
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Old 09-20-11, 06:31 PM   #7
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I'm usually okay if they're dry. But ANY moisture at all makes them super scary.
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Old 09-21-11, 08:53 AM   #8
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Well done!
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Old 10-03-11, 09:30 AM   #9
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Steel Grate Hurts

There's a steel grate bridge in Boston on Morrisey Blvd that I've crossed, when dry, dozens of times. I was rolling across it last Saturday morning after a rain shower, and the tires suddenly felt like I was on black ice -- no traction whatsoever left with the road. I tried to keep it gentle and straight, but no way. Went down hard, shredded my hip, helmet, and new rain jacket on the roadway. Miraculously did not get hit by the cars behind me, and got some help from some National Guard kids who pulled over in their SUV, and later state troopers and EMTs. Mild concussion and a terrific bruise and abrasion, but no loss other than the helmet and sunglasses. Helmet damage was pretty impressive, it really broke up. And I had only remembered to click the chin strap back together five minutes earlier.
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Old 10-03-11, 11:27 AM   #10
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Careful on those, they are like ice when wet...

We have one in Lowell (University Avenue Bridge*) that has the added bonus of the steel plates shifting and opening up parallel gaps that can swallow a wheel/tire. I avoid that bridge at all costs, and luckily Lowell has 5 others that can be used to cross.

* It is currently in the process of being decommissioned, and a new bridge being built in right next to it. So it's infamous nature will soon be history.

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Old 10-03-11, 12:44 PM   #11
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There's a steel grate bridge in Boston on Morrisey Blvd that I've crossed, when dry, dozens of times. I was rolling across it last Saturday morning after a rain shower, and the tires suddenly felt like I was on black ice -- no traction whatsoever left with the road. I tried to keep it gentle and straight, but no way. Went down hard, shredded my hip, helmet, and new rain jacket on the roadway. Miraculously did not get hit by the cars behind me, and got some help from some National Guard kids who pulled over in their SUV, and later state troopers and EMTs. Mild concussion and a terrific bruise and abrasion, but no loss other than the helmet and sunglasses. Helmet damage was pretty impressive, it really broke up. And I had only remembered to click the chin strap back together five minutes earlier.
This reminded me of something that happened several weeks ago. I had gone to the local convenience store on my bike. I was trying to beat an approaching rain storm. Before I had even started paying for my purchase, it started to rain. As I was waiting for the rain to stop, a guy in his 60's or 70's came into the store. He had something like a dirt bike and said he loved riding in the rain.

I don't have to ride over any steel, since there are no steel bridges near my house. But I do have to deal with where the asphalt has melted or buckled from the summer heat. The asphalt filler that was used where the road buckled, caused the buckled spots to be even worse. If I were to ride a bike in the rain over those buckled spots in the road, I would definitely crash.
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Old 10-03-11, 08:31 PM   #12
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I nearly bought it the other day. I was zoned out crossing the ICW when I suddenly realized I was on a wet grate when I could feel my front moving around on me.
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Old 10-04-11, 08:03 PM   #13
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I once turned on a manhole while it was wet. Learned a valuable lesson that day. Avoid metal like plague.
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Old 10-12-11, 12:47 AM   #14
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The best thing to do when confronted with a bridge with steel grate decking is to cross on the sidewalk or bike path (if available). Both due to traction issues and due to potential gaps between the plates these are extremely dangerous to cyclists.

They suck on a motorcycle or scooter too, though the tires are usually wide enough not to get caught in any gaps.
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Old 01-09-13, 08:17 PM   #15
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Originally Posted by gmen0101 View Post
...Apparently a rain shower passed over the Commercial Blvd bridge before I arrived since the ground was wet but it was not raining anymore. When my tires hit the steel grating the entire bike started to slide sideways with the rear wheel slipping out to the right more and more as I progressed. Scared the heck out of me.
Googled (with one hand) “bicycling drawbridge safety” and found this site and post. Déjà vu when I read your post because Monday I took a spill (and broke a metacarpal plus cuts and abrasions) on the same bridge you mention (Commercial Blvd drawbridge in Fort Lauderdale). I have been biking in the Fort Lauderdale/South Florida/A1A area for about three months. In my prior biking (Cape Cod) I had not encountered drawbridges. A few weeks into my Fort Lauderdale biking, I rode over the Las Olas Blvd bridge with wet tires and started sliding sideways and it scared the heck out of me. Since then, I have used the SE 17[SUP]th[/SUP] St bridge (which is paved instead of having a grate) and I told myself I would walk across wet drawbridges (on the sidewalk). Rain was not in the forecast on Monday and for most of my ride there was none. But it started raining towards the end of my ride and I guess I was in a hurry to get home and I (consciously) violated my policy. I am lucky I did not get run over by a car. I’m glad to see it’s not just me who finds wet drawbridges scary. I think at least for a while I will walk my bike across dry as well as wet drawbridges (and wet ones forever).
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Old 01-09-13, 09:26 PM   #16
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Glad yer OK. A member of my sister's riding club went down on a wet grate on a bridge across the Thames at Chatham (not that Thames) in 2011. They called an air ambulance. I'm sure whether she is back on the bike yet.
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Old 07-28-15, 03:44 PM   #17
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I know this is an old thread, but I'll my two cents. There are two bridges like this in a local loop in southern Long Island. I thought I had a good plan in place last time I went over (2 years ago). It was wet, went over the first bridge (barely). Had about 10 miles to the next bridge. Was almost at the end when I wiped out. Was going about 18mph. I now have a permanently bent finger (broken tendons). Two fingers got caught between the grating. I was lucky I didn't lose my fingers. I haven't been back since. I found this thread to see if there was any recommendations on how to do it when wet (I rode the "solid" part, was hoping to find to ride the "holes"). Found a better answer: Don't ride them
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Old 07-28-15, 04:18 PM   #18
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....Don't ride them
Yep, or ride them at the same kinds of speeds you'd use for wet ice at 30 degrees. Wet steel surfaces are extremely slick, and the type of deck is also important. If the highest part of the deck runs cross wise, you'll get vibration, but control is easier. OTOH if you do fall, it's like falling onto a cheese grater.

Much worst are decks with the highest part running parallel to the span, with cross members a bit below. This is like riding on a surface made 100% of trolley tracks, and when wet will trap you wheel sending you down pretty quickly. OTOH you'll slide easier on the parallels and won't lose as much clothes and skin.

One of my early crashes which could have been much worse happened on a rainy day, when I rounded a curve at high speed onto a steel deck bridge. Went down instantly and slid halfway across the span, suffering a "court burn" on my shoulder. I walked back to find my bike under the front axle of a tractor trailer, that either through driver skill, or pure luck, managed to straddle it without either tire touching as he brought the rig to a stop (rear wheels still on the pavement). It took me years before I trusted steel bridges again, and even then, not much,.
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