Ever since yesterday morning, when a quick reporter from the SeattlePI.com phoned about Seattle Public Utilities’ report on storm grate management, our phones have been ringing off the hook.
In case you missed it, storm grates are big news.
- on SeattlePI.com
- on PubliCola
- on KIRO-TV
- on KING-5
- At 1:05 today, David Hiller will be speaking with Ken Schram on KOMO News Radio
- UPDATE: on Q13 FOX
Interestingly, radio personality and self-described “avid urban cyclist” Dori Monson thinks the city is “insane” to manage its roadway assets in a responsible manner. Be warned before you click through; he likes to throw around words like “morons” and “tyrants” to get your knickers in a twist. Don’t buy it. And don’t read the comments either.
Let’s do the numbers: Tens of thousands of dollars in lawsuits, plus continued bad publicity for not taking care of a known problem, or $500 to fix each storm grate.
SPU is doing the right thing, and their report shows it. They’re taking a systematic, responsible approach to managing these assets and addressing problems in the interest of roadway users’ safety.
And it’s not just a bike issue. Eroded surfaces around sunken storm grates are often indications of problems below, problems that would be very costly to fix if they’re allowed to fester while we refuse to invest in fixing them. Anyone who has driven over a sunken storm grate, or swerved to avoid one, knows they can cause damage to a car’s suspension. And your dental fillings.
If you have experienced road hazards, we’ve got a nifty online tool in Bikewise (mentioned on page four of the SPU document) that allows you to report them. We’re looking forward to working with more public agencies in the region to make Bikewise useful for their maintenance, repair and construction work. A Bikewise mobile app will be released this spring, and will allow you to include photos and GPS data with hazard reports from the street. Photos and geo-location data will help agencies like SDOT and SPU find and correct hazards more efficiently.
As for Dori Monson, we invite him to submit a report on his bike commute some time, perhaps as a guest post on our modest bike blog. Maybe we could even entice him to be a Group Health Commute Challenge team captain this year. C’mon Mr. Monson… May is Bike Month… join us!