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Cyclist worries over storm grate danger

Barriers to be put up to alleviate hazard

Posted: April 23, 2009 9:45 p.m.
Updated: April 24, 2009 9:00 a.m.
As Castaic drivers adjust to the new traffic circle in their community along The Old Road at the Hasley Canyon Road overpass, one road warrior worries bicyclists might have a tough time.

Cyclist Ed Valentin said Tuesday the storm-water grates located near the traffic circles pose a hazard to bicyclists.

Valentin, of Valencia, said he was recently biking the northbound roadway, which is still under construction, when he stopped just short of one of the storm grates.

"To avoid them, you have to skirt around them. To skirt around them, you actually end up in the same space as a car would be if there is a car there," he said.

"It's either you and the car, or you and the drain," he added.

The problem is that the pitch of the grates is oriented to the direction of travel, rather than at 90 degrees to it. This means that a bicycle tire and wheel might easily fall into the slots in the grates, Valentin said.

"We are aware of those grates and their effects with the bicyclists," said Gary Boze, a spokesman for the Los Angeles County Department of Public Works. "They are scheduled to have additional bars added so they won't be as (far apart) for the (bicycle) tires to slip in."

Boze said Thursday that barriers would be put up around the grates to signal a warning to bicyclists and will mark each grate area as a "no passing zone." The barriers could be placed as early as Thursday night, Boze said.

The traffic-circle project will remain under construction for months, Boze said. In the meantime, he said the barriers should serve as an early warning for cyclists.

"But people should know this area is still a construction area, so bicyclists, drivers and pedestrians still need to be alert," he said.

John Lukes, a bicycle safety instructor for the city, said that storm grates can pose a significant hazard for bicyclists.

"Because of the fact that bicycles now have very thin tires and the thin tires slip in between the grates, then no matter if you're going straight or not, a person can't hold still (while travelling over the grate)," he said. "(The wheel) grips into there and can't get out. You have a tendency to go over the front of the handlebars."

Lukes said he's run into a similar problem on Sierra Highway. He informed the city, and city officials had someone weld perpendicular pieces into the grates to remove the hazard.

Work on the The Old Road and Hasley Canyon Road project started in 2007 and will include two roundabouts on the east and west sides of the freeway.

They are part of a larger project the Los Angeles County Department of Public Works is working with the California Department of Transportation to replace the Hasley Canyon Road overpass to accommodate future traffic lanes on I-5.


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