District: 2nd District
Problem: Drainage Bars are placed in the gutter area for water to flow into them during rainstorms and flow eventually into rivers, etc. Until circa 1970, these were aligned with the road, enabling a bicycle wheel to fall through. If the front wheel falls through, it means a sudden flip-over of the bicyclist and a good chance of head injury. If the rear wheel falls through, it destroys the rear wheel. (This happened to me on Sepulveda Blvd. under the LAX runway). Most have since been changed to bars perpendicular to the road or in both directions, except on freeways where bicycles are banned.
California Streets and Highways Code section 161 provides: "On construction projects, the department shall install on the surface of state highways upon which the operation of bicycles is permitted only those types of grates which are not hazardous to bicycle riders."
This only applies to Department of Transportation, and therefore local agencies are not held to the standard; however, many local agencies have adopted the Highway Design Manual (the design standard followed by Caltrans) as their own design standard.
Street and Highways Code section 891: "All city, county, regional, and other local agencies responsible for the development or operation of bikeways or roadways where bicycle travel is permitted shall utilize all minimum safety design criteria and uniform specifications and symbols for signs, markers, and traffic control devices established pursuant to Sections 890.6 and 890.8."
HDM Index 1003.6(3): "Drainage inlet grates on bikeways shall have openings narrow enough and short enough to assure bicycle tires will not drop into the grates (e.g., reticuline type), regardless of the direction of bicycle travel. Where it is not immediately feasible to replace existing grates with standard grates designed for bicycles, 25 mm x 6 mm steel cross straps should be welded to the grates at a spacing of 150 mm to 200 mm on centers to reduce the size of the openings adequately."
"Corrective actions described above are recommended on all highways where bicycle travel is permitted, whether or not bikeways are designated."HDM Index 837.2(2): "If grate inlets must be located in roadway areas where cyclists may be expected to travel, bicycle proof grates are to be specified. Bicycle proof grates are shown on Standard Plan D77-B."
Special thanks to Alan Wachtel for this information.