True Grit

Apologies (again) for lack of blogging commitment of late.  I’ve been VERY busy building websites for people, but that’s another story.

The first real sub-zero cold snap has come and we’ve had icy roads, so the gritting lorries have been out.

The gritting lorries, however, don’t grit the cycle or pedestrian paths!  And part of my cycle path has been frozen, slippery leaf mulch for the last few days.  I’ve seen and stopped to chat to one guy who’d come off and was sat next to his bike, clearly shaken and with a minor injury.  The cycle/pedestrian paths aren’t safe!!

Towards the end of last year’s long snowy season they DID grit some of the paths, and I took photos and wrote about it as it was melting.

That grit in the photos was put down as the snow was clearing and lasted for several weeks after the snow had gone.  Where’s the logic in that?  If it’s going to last for weeks then surely better to put it out early and let it hang around to keep the paths safe during winter?

So I put that idea to the council yesterday, and today a nice lady from the council got back to me with a very thorough response.  Apparently she can’t help because it’s not the council’s policy to treat cycle routes.  This is not a purely financial decision, there is a technical explanation:

Salt only assists in reducing the freezing point of water when it is in solution and the best way to get the salt into a solution, within snow or standing water, is by the action of traffic.  [Because] the routes are lightly trafficked […] any applied salt could be almost entirely ineffectual, wasting resources and damaging the environment.
Application of grit sand,  may assist in snow for a short while, but in the longer term would prove to be a hazard in itself as it could cause skidding accidents, this therefore is not an option either.
As a technical person who likes a bit of science, I genuinely appreciate and mostly understand this explanation.  However, it leaves me with questions:
  • If that’s the case, what was with the gritting of this path last year?  Perhaps as the snow melted and became solution the grit would help keep it from re-freezing?
  • If that’s the case why are there gritting boxes for gritting pavements on steep hills around Swindon?  And why does the business park I work on grit the pedestrian paths around the park – with seemingly excellent ice-reducing effects?
  • Surely, in the days of iPhones, man-made Satellites, and Graphene someone has invented a substance they can put on cycle paths and pavements to make them safe in winter?

So, I appeal to my blog’s cycling audience…do your cycle paths get gritted?  How is this done in places like Copenhagen and Amsterdam where cycling is a major form of transport?  Perhaps someone even know if my council lady is right?  Or if there’s a new kind of grit or salt that I can recommend?

Thanks in advance folks!!