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Gritting of London Cycle Superhighways - a case of hit or miss?

TfL prepares Red Routes for winter weather, but much of CS1 missing from Hackney's gritter lorry route...

The forecast “thundersnow” may have given London a miss – a light dusting of the white stuff yesterday afternoon was pretty much it, to the disappointment of many.

But preparations for the expected snow and ice did highlight one thing of relevance to the city’s cyclists – whether the infrastructure they use gets gritted or not.

Most run alongside major arteries – the “red routes” that make up the Transport for London Road Network, and which are maintained by TfL rather than London boroughs.

TfL, together with the emergency services and London Councils, draw up to minimise the impact of severe weather – including on “key arterial roads, cycle routes and footways around bus and railway stations, hospitals and police, fire and ambulance stations.”

As part of that, there is a commitment by TfL and the boroughs “to ensure that the Cycle Superhighways and other cycling routes remain safe to use during the winter months.”

Some 39 gritters are used by TfL on the 580-kilometre red route network, and quad bikes and flatbed lorries are also used – plus, as shown in this tweet, a small road sweeping vehicle being used to keep a cycle route ice-free.

Away from the Red Routes, though, the responsibility for the other 95 per cent of London’s roads lies with the individual boroughs.

One cycling blogger highlighted on Twitter how that means that most of Cycle Superhighway 1 in Hackney, which passes mainly along quieter roads parallel to the A10 - and which is therefore maintained by the council -  won’t be treated, according to the borough’s gritting map.

Elsewhere in the city, a section of one of the older Cycle Superhighways that still have their original blue paint had to be gritted in recent days as a temporary measure after cyclists slipped on its surface, which had become greasy.

> Cyclists falling on 'greasy' cycle superhighway in Stockwell (+ video)

Contractors working from TfL were due to have carried out work to remedy the problem on Wednesday night.

A Twitter user from the Netherlands drew TfL’s attention to the way one city there, Ede, has looked at tackling the problem of snow and ice – it’s installed a heated cycle track.

> Cycling survival:'s tips for riding on ice and snow

Simon has been news editor at since 2009, reporting on 10 editions and counting of pro cycling’s biggest races such as the Tour de France, stories on issues including infrastructure and campaigning, and interviewing some of the biggest names in cycling. A law and languages graduate, published translator and former retail analyst, his background has proved invaluable in reporting on issues as diverse as cycling-related court cases, anti-doping investigations, and the bike industry. He splits his time between London and Cambridge, and loves taking his miniature schnauzer Elodie on adventures in the basket of her Elephant Bike.

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