Steel Road Plate Hazards

Steel Plate Road Hazards

We’ve all been there.  A wet day, a 4’x8′ steel plate in the road, and you need to make an emergency stop.  As you save your scoot from a slide, you wonder:  How are these things legal?

Seven Illegal Road Plates, All in a Row // minusbaby via flickr

They’re not legal!  Since 2001 the DOT has mandated [link] that the steel road plates “have a skid-resistant surface equal to or greater than the adjacent existing street or roadway surface.”  This usually means painting with orange-peel textured “truck bed liner” paint, a nubby surface that your boots and tires can grip.

A 2004 study [link] by Transportation Alternatives found that 66% of the plates were not skid-resistant.  The DOT has the power to fine construction sites – call 311 and they will inspect within 10 days; the contractors then have 30 days (!) to make the plate(s) compliant.

Maybe the skid coating wears off.  Maybe contractors just don’t care.  But we do.

Help us save a rider’s life:  Start reporting those plain, slick road plates when you see them.  A 311 call makes NYC DOT legally liable for neglecting to enforce these rules.

1.  Call 311 with a location of the road plate.  State that it does not have a “skid-resistant surface” and is in violation of DOT road safety standards.  OR…

2.  Go to’s online 311 and report the hazard here. OR…

3.  Download the NYC311 [link] iPhone app (free!) and follow the instructions for a new request, street condition.

Take a moment of your ride home today and report a few of these plates.  Leave for work early tomorrow and get every one on a main thoroughfare.  DOT won’t inspect these voluntarily – it’s up to you to make it happen.