Mind The Joint – Slippy When Wet!

26th October 2012

Concerns which has led to letter writing by Right To Ride to the authorities about the Expansion Joint Covers on the M3 Bridge in Belfast being a hazard to motorcyclists is finally drawing to a conclusion.

In October 2010 riders on the NI Bikers Forum voiced concerns and warned other riders of the hazard of, the then new joints, on the M3 Lagan Bridge in Belfast.

According to the riders, although the joints appeared to be fine in dry weather and an improvement to the “dips” prevalent in the previous joints, (which were only a few inches wide and created a slight jolt when ridden over), the new joints were nearly 2 feet wide and riders found that they caused a loss of grip, especially when the joints are negotiated in wet weather.

While motorcyclists should treat these covers like any other hazard such as wet gratings, painted road markings, mud, leaves, diesel etc. riders should not have to deal with a hazard that appears to have been designed into the road infrastructure without taking motorcycles into consideration.

After various communications with Roads Service, the department put a process in motion which saw the DBFO Contractor (Design, Build, Finance and Operate Contracts), the designers and the joint manufacturer actively investigating methods on how to best improve the skid resistance over the joints, with an independent consultant monitoring the joints over a 12 month period.

We were told that the DBFO Contractor wishes to ensure it applies the best and most long-lasting treatment to the joints, which may not just be as simple as applying a non-slip covering. Therefore a number of trials using alternative skid resistance applications has been undertaken, and is nearing conclusion.

While this appears to have taken a long time to reach an end to slippery bridge joints, Roads Service have informed us that they, the DBFO Contractor and the manufacturer are keen to conclude this issue as soon as possible.

Bridge Joints Let Down!

Over the weekend of the 15th September 2012 the application of a skid resistance treatment to all the joints on the M3 bridge was completed.

The Roads Service say that, ” It is hoped that this treatment will be long lasting, however, both ourselves and the DBFO Contractor will continue to monitor the adhesion of this newly applied product. I am hopeful that this solution will improve the skid resistance of the joint, especially in wet conditions.”

What would appear to be a solution offered and performed by Roads Service, (who have recognised the serious of the issue and made all attempts to solve this), or perhaps in hindsight we should have been more active in what the exact solution was going to be before it was done.

Bridge Joints Back On Track

Following on from our latest communication on October 24th 2012 about the Bridge Joints on the M3 Lagan Bridge we have received an update from Roads Service.

Roads Service has also informed us that their contractor has already begun to trial the application of the new surface treatment to the Asphaltic Plug Joint (APJ) in an attempt to ensure a uniform skid resistance over the entirety of each bridge joint.

Both Roads Service and the contractor are continuing to monitor the joints regularly and touch up the surface treatment as required.

This will ensure the treatment in place performs as intended.

Perhaps now we have got a grip we are heading to the full resolving of this potential deadly problem to  improve the M3 joints for all road users.

We appreciate the patience and professional manner of the personnel to date from Roads Service, it has been a long haul.

You can view the communication between Right To Ride and Roads Service – Click Here 

View all our articles below or – Click Here

Riders Comments

Comments from riders regarding these joints include:

  1. The problem joint is a 3 fold issue. 1.Bad surface for wet grip –  2.On a bend –  3.Slightly off camber.
  2. The last one west bound is on a bend and is really slippery in the wet. I had a trouser-filling moment on the way home from work today when the front wheel decided it wanted to head off on its own.
  3.  Nightmare in the wet, I just take it steady going over them and bolt upright with wheels straight.
  4.  Heading from the M3 to the M2 all my bikes drift in the wet across these now due to the joint being mid bend.
  5. God knows what they’ll be like during the winter when that slimey road salt goo is on them.
  6. Overall I think they are terrible, even the car loses all steering feel briefly and sunshine at sunset reflects badly off them when wet.
  7. The old ones where worn but all they did was create a slight jolt like any other road dip but now I’d rather use the Westlink Offslip and rejoin the M2 from York Street simply to avoid that joint as I keep getting the feeling that one day the front will just slide out and lowside.
  8. If a small patch of oil, manhole cover, white line etc can cause the front to let go….then this can as well, heaven help us if we need to brake across them.
  9.  I was braking (in the car in the wet) over the one leading onto the Westlink, when the front wheels hit it they locked so ABS and Traction Control kicked in, so when I hit the tarmac again it stopped dead leaving me to peel myself off the windscreen. Try that on a bike, even with ABS and you’ll need new boxers.
  10. The joint, it seems that the leading edge has already started to break up/lift in a few places…not bad for a month or two…winter will finish them off at this rate.
  11. Odds on they’d use shell grip or something equally daft that lifts off the first time someone has to brake heavily on it….ending up back at square one in patches.
  12. Totally agree…problem is that with these joints you don’t know that you’ve got reduced grip until it’s too late…but you sure as hell remember it next time……still doesn’t excuse the use of such crappy road surfaces.

Comments were not just confined to these joints:

  1. Seeing we are talking about silly road stuff what is the craic about the while arrow leading off the Westllink onto Grosvenor road, it the wet it’s lethal, the white lines cover most of the corner, and you have to really slow down or risk losing the front.
  2. I’ve had some/many people nearly crash into me from having to slow down to be able to get up the slip road and avoid crashing on the white arrow, seen a few bikes down because if it already.
  3. It seems that generally the road planners haven’t a clue maybe we should give them a list of our top ten least favourite road issues to let them see our world.


Riders Advice

While riders have written to the DOE Minister, Roads Service Chief Executive and their MLA, the joints remain a hazard in everyday use, advice from riders includes:

  1.  Treasure your grip.
  2. When you’re going over surfaces like this, you can’t afford sacrificing much of it to braking, steering, acceleration or leaning.
  3. Slow down to an appropriate speed, stay off the brakes, constant speed over the gaps, stay straightish & upright.

Bridge Joints Back On Track

26th October 2012
Read moreFollowing on from our latest communication about the Bridge Joints on the M3 Lagan Bridge we have received an update from Roads Service. The update includes clarification of the material used on the joints, description of part of the joints and news of  further testing on these components to ensure, that there is a uniform […]

Read More……

Bridge Joints Let Down!

24th October 2012
Read moreIf you have been following our concerns about the bridge joints on the M3 bridge over the Lagan in Belfast, you will know that we and other motorcyclists, had voiced concerns over the grip when passing over these joints. Over the weekend of the 15th September the application of a skid resistance treatment to all […]

M3 Bridge has Got A Grip

5th April 2012
Read moreConcerns which has led to letter writing by Right To Ride to the authorities about the Expansion Joint Covers on the M3 Bridge in Belfast being a hazard to motorcyclists is finally drawing to a conclusion. In October 2010 riders on the NI Bikers Forum voiced concerns and warned other riders of the hazard of, […]

Update On Bridge Joints

2nd July 2011
Read moreUpdate On Bridge Joints – Hazard For Motorcyclists In October 2010 at Right To Ride we informed the Roads Service about the concerns of riders who found that the bridge joints on the M3 Lagan Bridge in Belfast caused their motorcycles to lose grip when these joints are negotiated, especially in wet weather. The latest […]

Mind The Joint – Slippy When Wet!

14th October 2010
Read moreRiders on the NI Bikers Forum have voiced concerns and are warning other riders of the hazard of new joints on the M3 Lagan Bridge in Belfast. According to Roads Service the bridge joints where replaced during June and August to ensure their continued high performance in coping with today’s traffic volumes. The joints appear […]

Read More……

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  1. I concur with everything that has been said about these new joins, they came to my attention on a wet evening heading home recently and I was ‘surprised’ to say the least by the sudden lack of grip as i crossed them and I said to myself, ‘Hold on, what’s happened here then?’
    Then I noticed the lack of the dip that used to be there and I knew this was a new hazard to watch out for.
    As others have said, steady speed and bolt upright is advisable when crossing them and even then your wheels can slip a bit. If you had to brake you’d be off I think.
    I cant think of a single road that’s surface or layout has been laid out with motorcyclists in mind in addition with other vehicles. I’d like to hear from anyone that think of one!

  2. Right To Ride says

    NI Biker Forum have received replies from the Minister and DOE/Roads Service that they are investigating and will reply by 26th Oct, also Sammy Wilson MLA etc has raised the issue with the Minister.
    We have also received communication that they (Roads Service) are investigating the issue with their contractor and are hoping to be in a position to respond by next week.

  3. Crossed the joints yesterday in the wet from M2 down slip road to Newtownards Road.
    Both wheels felt as if the bike was on ice for a split second.

  4. The issue is being taken very seriously and is being actively investigated by Roads Service.
    Full details

  5. Jim Fairclough says

    If DoE Roads can make the NW200 circuit all-weather safe then ALL other suspect roads, junctions, fittings and markings are within the scope of being made safe for motorbikes.

  6. The joints on the M3 is a topic I personally have serious issues with.
    I use the M3 flyover daily on my commute to and from work, “each & every time I pass over the joints in the wet I feel I’m living on borrowed time”!
    The joints are treacherous in the wet, and I have to both reduce speed & stand the bike up in order to give myself a fighting chance of making it across.
    Each time without fail in the wet I feel my rear tyre loose grip & skip out, I am really amazed no one has lost control and came off as a result of these joints yet, and baring in mind there positioning and the flow of traffic, the results would not bear thinking about.

  7. I hate even going over that joint in the car, it’s rear wheel drive and it skids, on the bike it’s nerve wrecking every time because you don’t know if you’ll make it over or not, that may sound melodramatic but it’s a serious problem that I hope is rectified quickly!

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