Wet Bridge Grates and Cyclists Are a Dangerous Combo

Biking in South Florida is dangerous. Last week, for instance, hundreds of cyclists from Miami to Delray Beach participated in a memorial event for fallen riders called the Ride of Silence.

So after a cyclist took a bad spill on a wet grated bridge recently, local blog Transit Miami posted a Facebook status asking to hear from any cyclists who had suffered similar injuries — people who had ridden on dangerous drawbridges across South Florida.

The answer from the community was swift and sad: cuts that demanded stitches, broken bones, and worse. Basically, the bridges are a slice and dice for the athletic set.

Take the case of Stephen Tate from Miami, who commented on the post that the Miami River bridge gave him so much trouble that he felt he shouldn't be alive: "just had to get 20 stitches spread between my hands, elbow, and hip from a fall I had crossing over the Miami River downtown. I got off easy considering I could have been bulldozed by the truck behind me. Grated bridges are death traps for anyone on two wheels!"

He wasn't alone. At least 30 people commented, with multiple folks comparing riding over a wet drawbridge in South Florida to driving over a cheese grater. Others, like Christina Warren, said they tore ligaments and owed thousands in medical bills: "I wiped out on wet grates. Broken nose, 50 stitches in my face, and torn ligaments in both thumbs! I contacted multiple lawyers, as there was no signage saying danger or walk bike, etc. No one was interested to represent me. With deductible, etc., I was out $5,000 in medical expenses!"

Or Salomon Jakubowicz: "I almost died on one grated bridge, and it was not raining. It is always slippery, and the metal is sharp. I still have the scars. I fell November 2012 on the Dania Boulevard grated bridge. It is slippery with the typical humidity... The metal broke my helmet in half and was encrusted on my ribs, shoulder, and leg."

The Florida Department of Transportation's Miami Division agreed to answer a list of questions from New Times but didn't respond by presstime. However, the FDOT Broward Division is already trying to fix the problem, according to spokesperson Barbara Kelleher.

"We have a test site on one of our Intracoastal bridges in Broward County where we've put a metal plate over the bridge decking — you know, the grated section," she says. "It has a textured surface on it to reduce tires slipping when it's wet. That seems to be receiving a lot of good feedback from bicyclists, and we're going to be trying it on a couple of other Intracoastal bridges in Broward County."

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Ryan Cortes
Contact: Ryan Cortes