Metal road plates have been popping up on Melbourne's streets recently, with their sharp edges, slippery surfaces and protruding bolts giving riders a rude and risky shock.
As reported in the Herald Sun, steel road plates have been spotted on many city streets including key bike routes Swanston Street and Exhibition Street.
The plates aren't always an issue for cars and trucks, but for bikes it is a different story. The edges and bolts can cause a puncture and ruin a rim, and if there is a bit of rain around, they can make riders feel like Torvill and Dean.
Bicycle Network CEO Craig Richards said that it is important for the construction companies who do work on or near roads to understand how they are impacting people who ride.
“Contractors need to understand that when working on a riding route the things that are ok for cars may not be ok for bikes”
“Metal plates with sharp edges and bolts sticking up can not only cause bike tyre punctures but also nasty crashes. It’s not good enough to have these dangerous plates on our roads.”
“We’d be happy for any contractor or government department to ask us about the best things to do when working in bike lanes”
And there are ways to make road plates safe for riders. On Beach Road in 2018 plates were inserted into the road so that they sat flush, had an anti-slip coating and well-drilled holes for bolts.
Even if it is not possible for the plates to be sunk into the road surface there should be no shard edges, bolts sticking up or slippery surfaces.
What can you do if you spot a risk?
If you see a road plate—or other risk on the road like a pothole or debris—you should make a report with the local council.
They will know who the contractor is and be able to make a proper request for a fix.
You should also let Bicycle Network know. We can help if the response from council is not satisfactory, the problem not fixed or riders need to be made aware of the risk.
When reporting you it is always good to include a photo many councils use Snap Send Solve or have similar programs where photos can be uploaded to help fix problems.