Cyclists Relieved About Plan To Replace Dangerous Grates - NewsChannel5.com | Nashville News, Weather & Sports

Cyclists Relieved About Plan To Replace Dangerous Grates

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by Chris Cannon

NASHVILLE, Tenn. -- Simple sewer grates continue to cost the city of Nashville big money. That's because a certain type of grate can create a real hazard for bicyclists, and taxpayers are paying the consequences.

Bicycling is becoming common in some areas of the city, including downtown Nashville. Mayor Karl Dean has been promoting cycling, and you can even rent bikes at several locations in the downtown area. Inconsistency in sewer grates on downtown streets is causing a big problem for many of those cyclists.

The guys with the cycling group Momentum Cycling know it can get dangerous out on the streets of downtown Nashville. They say they're always on the lookout for dangers like debris and glass or anything that could puncture a tire, but the grates can be an even bigger obstacle.

"If we do see a grate, we'll point to it, make sure the rider behind us does see it as well," said John Johnson, a cyclist with the group.

Not all grates are problems, but the ones they're looking out for are the ones that run parallel to the curb. Back in 2009, cyclist Margaret Yoste didn't see one. She ran over a grate that was along a shared route.

Her tire got stuck in the grate, sent her over the handle bars, and caused serious facial injuries. Yoste filed a lawsuit against Metro, the second the city faced, because of these grates.

The Metro Council voted to pay Yoste $196,000 for her injuries and the lawsuit will bring changes to downtown streets.

"That general area is our initial target area and we estimate there's about 2,000 unfriendly grates that have been changed out," said John Kennedy with the Metro Water Department.

Over the next 5 years, Metro Water will start removing the parallel grates installed downtown between the 1960's and 1980's at a cost of almost two million dollars. Those safer grates can't come fast enough for some cyclists.

"The mayor's all about making this a ride-friendly city and town, and area, and it just goes without saying, this is a definite need," said Johnson.

The first sewer grate lawsuit the city settled was for $130,000. So now taxpayers have shelled out nearly $330,000 because the city hasn't fixed all the grates. Keep in mind, these accidents happened more than four years ago. The program to fix them is funded and will start in the next couple of weeks.

Email: ccannon@newschannel5.com
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