Dynamo also asked members for their experiences. Some had stopped cycling altogether; others had “braved” it. Regular cyclists on the Millennium bridge know how bad that can get, particularly around Sainsburys, and it never seems to be gritted. One reported riding on a “lethal mixture of frozen leaf mulch and ice”, but fortunately remaining upright.
(Which led to a bit of a digression about the dangers of a build-up of fallen leaves on shared-use paths and pavements. One member had skidded and come off on exactly that type of surface, and it’s noticeable that the Lancaster-Caton path is very bad in parts – and still not cleared.)
Obviously there will always be a risk of coming off on icy surfaces, but Dynamo’s view is that busy cycle-commuter routes should be treated as effectively as possible so that a cyclist on a bike with suitable tyres stands a good chance of getting to her/his destination in one piece. And if you prefer to get off and walk the dodgy bits . . . well, you’ll realise that pedestrians need the gritting as much as cyclists.
Communications with the City and County Councils have yielded the following information:
- The County Council does not class the Lancaster-Morecambe path as a priority network, so it does not grit it. The City Council does grit the busiest sections of that path and the University path if County informs them to expect prolonged periods of sub-zero temperatures. This appears to be for the benefit of pedestrians.
- Grit/salt is effective on surfaces where the traffic grinds the treatment and spreads it – e.g. roads (car tyres) and pavements (footfall). Bicycle wheels do not seem to be regarded as effective. (One reason not to cycle in the gutter on treated roads.)
So, what happens in other places? It seems that in the Netherlands the cyclepath is first brushed and then spread with a mixture of salt and water, which doesn’t require the same dispersal as just salt to work. Would this require specialist equipment, or would Lancaster’s regular sweeping machines be able to do the job? Certainly, major cycle routes in the Netherlands remain safe and usable.
Dick remains on the case.