A Julie Notice Letter

A customizable sample letter for sending to your local city government to alert them to the dangers parallel storm sewer grates can pose to bicyclists on the road.


(Insert Safety Director’s Name
Street Address
City, ST ZIP Code)

(Insert Mayor’s Name
Street Address
City, ST ZIP Code)

Dear (Insert Mayor’s Name and Safety Director’s Name):

My name is (insert your name) and I am an avid bicyclist in the city. I am concerned about the dangers of these parallel stormwater grates along (street name) in (city’s name). There are about (number of grates) dangerous drainage tiles, from (first street name) going (direction) to (second street name).

Due to the bar placements, a bicycle tire can easily become stuck in the grate causing serious risk and injuries to cyclists.

Example of storm grate with average bicycle tire rim.

(Feel free to use your own picture to show the dangers)

Please refer to this article, “Parallel stormwater grates can endanger cyclists. If you see one, say something” for the dangers posed to bicycles of parallel stormwater grates. https://www.google.com/amp/s/ggwash.org/view/amp/67323

There are a number of different grate styles; the ones with smaller grids and narrower openings are better for bikes. The city would likely have to do drainage analysis to make sure that the replacement grates provide the right amount of flow (basically, permeability) to maintain appropriate drainage.

The American Association of State Highway and Transportation Officials, warn drainage grates with openings running parallel to the curb can cause narrow bicycle wheels to drop into the gaps and cause a severe crash. Care must be taken to ensure drainage grates are bicycle‐safe, with openings small enough to prevent a bicycle wheel from falling into the slots of the grate.[1] 

The Federal Highway Administration currently recommends a few different grate designs to minimize risks for bicyclists. Bars can be perpendicular to the direction of travel or, when the bars follow the direction of travel, there can be crossbars up to six inches apart to keep wheels from getting caught. There are also designs with small shapes like a hexagon that achieve the same safety effect.[2] 

Image courtesy of the Federal Highway Administration.

The Ohio Department of Transportation states: shared lanes are the most common bicycle accommodations since bicycles may operate on all roadways except were prohibited by ORC Section 4511.051- .[3] 

Many cities in Ohio, such as Cleveland, Columbus, Cincinnati and Westlake are changing their stormwater grates to reduce the risk to bicyclists on the road. We encourage (City name) to join the trend and make the city more bicycle friendly.


 (Your name)

[1] https://www.albany.edu/ihi/files/DraftBikeGuideFeb2010.pdf

[2] https://ggwash.org/view/67323/see-some-stormwater-grates-that-could-endanger-cyclists-let-dc-water-know

[3] https://www.transportation.ohio.gov/working/engineering/roadway/manuals-standards/multimodal/06/06#62BicycleRoutes