How do we solve the national icy pavement crisis?


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How do we solve the national icy pavement crisis?

Posted 8 January 2010 12:25 by martin

Icy pavement

While the country continues to be gripped by arctic conditions (well, a good old-fashioned winter), and cars and buses grind to halt, it would be nice to say 'well, maybe walking might be the best option for some of your journeys…'.

But it's not an easy argument to make when negotiating pavements at the moment requires the skills of Torvill and Dean.

What lots of people seem to be doing now is walk down the middle of the road, because it's where you're most likely to retain some grip.  But it's hardly an ideal solution – for either pedestrian or motorist.

So what to do?

The Telegraph is reporting that Scottish Tories want crims to be put to work clearing icy pavements, while the Guardian insists that pavements should have equal gritting treatment to the roads, as do Living Streets:

“We’ve all been there – slipping and sliding along our pavements in the morning frost as the weather turns cold, while cars roar past on freshly gritted roads. It’s a problem for anyone who wants to walk to the shops, to work, even just to the local bus stop.  But if you’re older or have a disability, these dangerous conditions make it almost impossible to venture outdoors.

Many local authorities already take effective action to keep our pavements accessible to all throughout winter, but Living Streets is calling on Councils to make this the rule, not the exception.  The disregard for pedestrian routes in icy conditions not only discourages people from walking locally, but can also result in Councils having to pay huge amounts of compensation to those injured as a result.”

There seems to be a lot of “the council should…” talk going on, but realistically, what are the chances of this happening when many side roads (let alone pavements) haven't seen even a grain of grit this winter.  And when budgets are being slashed.  And when the mileage of pavement must be nearly double that of roads (?), and much less accessible for treatment by vehicle.

Could there be a 'bottom up' solution (to help prevent everyone going arse over tit)?  The council would ask someone in each street to act as 'grit monitor'.  They, with as many able-bodied volunteers as they could muster, would then manage a 'grit bin', and ensure their street's pavements got the treatment they deserve.  Didn't something like that happen in times gone by?

Probably hopelessly impractical, inefficient and costly.  And overly reliant on community spirit.  And no good for this year.

What are your ideas for solving the great icy pavement crisis of 2010? (wait until it gets warmer maybe…?)

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  1. Hal says:

    January 8th, 2010 at 3:14 pm (#)

    Simple. Do as in Norway: Houseowners and landlords are responsible for everything in front of their properties. The council is responsible for removing the little hills of snow left behind on the pavements by the houseowners.

  2. Andrew Fielding says:

    January 20th, 2010 at 12:11 am (#)

    We are perhaps approaching this all wrong.

    Why are we gritting roads when snow and ice actually reduces the number of car crash fatalities? (Cars slide rather than crunching – though there are more car crashes overall)

    Shouldn't we grit pavements first (we only need to do a small strip and a little grit will go a lot further) so people can walk to local shops for essentials (food, water, candles etc). Any grit left over could then be put onto the roads.

    I have elaborated on this (not very eloquently) on my blog.

  3. Stephen Psallidas says:

    February 4th, 2010 at 10:26 am (#)

    Yes it is a real problem. I have been thinking about whether there could be a cleverer solution which would solve the problem automatically in some way? Very rough ideas include:

    a) laying paving stones which have a rougher/slightly bumpy surface which would help to make it harder for ice to form and also possibly provide better grip. I accept that this could take decades to roll out across the UK as pavements are gradually replaced/relaid naturally.

    b) somehow making paving stones 'black coloured' so that they absorb more heat from the sun and so hopefully at least melt more quickly when the temps do tick back up above freezing?

    c) a lot of Councils are currently replacing their street lighting. I wondered whether there could be a clever way of using the underground streetlight cabling to actually heat up the pavements??!?!

    Probably all a bit crazy!

    The problem with getting everyone out to grit their street is that there is simply not enough grit to go round in a severe winter, as we have seen this winter.

    The politicians will say that the huge amount of money required to prepare for the very occasional (and possibly becoming even rarer, with climate change) freezing winter, is simply not economic.

    Any more comments?

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