A fresh petition has been launched highlighting the danger posed to cyclists by so-called ‘scraping’ – the practice by some local authorities of dressing road surfaces with gravel chippings, rather than resurfacing them. The charity Cycling UK, however, says it is unaware of any increase in its use, but has asked cyclists to let them know if that has happened in their own areas.
The petition was launched by Danny Shafrir on the website 38 degrees, where he wrote:
Over the last few months and weeks, local roads and lanes around the country have been scraped instead of resurfaced.
The government claims, it is more cost-effective way to maintaining roads. This policy has created highly dangerous conditions for thousands of cyclists who uses these roads and lanes, whether commuting to work, leisure rides or staying fit.
The loose gravely surface is highly slippery and damn right dangerous, especially in rain, during descents and while turning.
How is this policy compatible with policies such as, cycle to work, reducing air pollution, safe space for cycling?
This could lead most cyclists on to using main roads with fast moving traffic or avoid riding all together. This policy must be reversed!
At the time of writing, the petition has attracted almost 650 signatures. One cyclist who signed it, Thomas C, said: "This has happened on a few roads near where I live recently, and I find myself avoiding them for a few months.
"It's impossible to ride on for the reasons already provided, and with traffic you can get kicked up gravel in the face.
"Even in a car / vehicle it's much harder to drive on, never mind the damage it does to your vehicle.
"All the roads that I know have been 'fixed' with this method seem to end up being re-done within a year anyway.
"It's not a good solution in any book but penny-pinching," he added.
But Sam Jones, campaigns coordinator at Cycling UK, said it had not noticed and increase in the practice and asked cyclists to let the charity know of any increase in scraping in their area.
He told road.cc: “Cycling UK is not aware of a sudden widespread policy for local authorities to ‘scrape’ their roads rather than resurface them, and would be interested to hear from their wider cycling community if this is the case.
“Even if it is not a countrywide problem, scraping over road surfacing is indicative of a wider problem which the Government is failing to address.
“The Asphalt Industry Alliance estimates it will take £12 billion to fix our local road networks. The Government so far has only allocated £6 billion over the next five years, while at the same time is investing £15 billion to gold plate our A-roads and motorways.
“It’s therefore hardly any surprise the roads most people, whether driving or cycling, use the most are in such a sorry state of repair.”
He added: “Cycling UK will be urging the new Ministers in the Department for Transport to rethink and reallocate their current funding from highways to local networks, and in the meantime would urge everyone to report any road defects they encounter via our Fill That Hole website and app.”
A similar petition launched on the UK Government website in 2014 was signed by 14,150 people.
While that was well below the 100,000 needed to stand a chance of the issue being debated on Parliament, it was above the 10,000 threshold that requires a response from the government.
Replying to that petition, the Department for Transport said:
This Government takes the issue of road safety and the condition of the road network very seriously …
There are many types of materials to resurface the highway network.
This type of dressing will seal the old road surface, preventing the ingress of water which causes deterioration of the road surface, and the road matrix and so reducing the risk of wider scale deterioration and road failure.
When designed and laid properly they pose no additional risks.
On many roads where traffic flow are not excessively high, surface dressings have been shown to be both cost-effective and sustainable.
The Highways Agency, responsible for the motorway and trunk road network, do not routinely use this type of dressing due to the high traffic flows.
For local roads, which are the statutory responsibility of local highway authorities, it is for each individual authority to decide on the most suitable materials to be used for resurfacing and repair works, based upon their local knowledge and circumstances.
Simon has been news editor at road.cc 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.