Worst Of All! – Tarting The Road Up With Stone Chip Dressing!
The common practice of laying a surface dressing consisting of stone chippings spread over tar on the road, which is then bedded in by traffic is not acceptable for motorcyclists.
This practice is no doubt risk assessed and warning signs are present (mostly inadequate and lacking in advance warning), however there is no doubt that this practice is a serious hazard for motorcycles, even at the posted recommended speed limit of 20mph/15mph.
When confronted with a stretch of road that has received this dressing, motorcyclists will inherently slow down because of the risk involved, the same cannot be said for other vehicles.
The risk of crashing is compounded by:
- Braking or altering position to avoid deep gravel on the road surface.
- There is risk of injury to riders and damage to the motorcycle from stone chippings thrown up by other vehicles.
- Excess stone chippings are not removed by Roads Service or the contractor.
According to various road authorities in the UK – “Stone Chip Dressing” – maximises the use of limited highway maintenance funding (costing only around one-fifth of conventional resurfacing). Even the simplest and cheapest of the resurfacing treatments is likely to cost four times the rate of surface dressing and the disparity in cost rises to about a factor of twelve for main road resurfacing.
It reduces the risk of aquaplaning on roads, thereby helping to reduce the possibility of accidents and the treatment can only successfully be applied during warm weather. In colder and wetter weather the bitumen fails to bond to the existing road leading to early failure.
Warnings about “Stone Chip Dressing” operations include: There will be some loose chippings and householders will need to check shoes before entering the home or car. There is also a slight possibility of wet bitumen being carried on shoes but any staining may be removed with a suitable solvent.
And its all about the children: Parents are asked to keep small children away from the area being treated. Heavy plant is dangerous and children’s clothes, skin and toys can all get marked with bitumen.
However there appears to be no concerns about motorcyclists?
IHE – Institute of Highway Engineers – Motorcycling Guidelines
However the IHE Motorcycling Guidelines give advise regarding stone chip dressing – surface dressing , the guidelines set out practical guidance for transportation professionals on providing a safer environment for motorcycles, mopeds and scooters.
- During the surface dressing season, avoid storing granular material at the roadside which could spill into the carriageway.
- Before reopening a surface-dressed site to normal traffic, road sweepers must completely remove excess material. This should be repeated to remove material dislodged by traffic. Failure to do this can lead to skidding and serious abrasive injuries to riders.
- In order to give all motorists clear warning of roadworks, use and maintain signage in accordance with Chapter 8 of the Traffic Signs Manual. Loose chipping warning signs must be prominent.
- Stone chippings should be properly rolled in.
- The excess stone chippings are removed promptly.
- Enforcement of other vehicle drivers.
The practice should be stopped and roads that require resurfacing, are resurfaced correctly.
This is probably not achievable as it is common practice, it is probably cost effective and it only affects a minority of road users, in this case vulnerable motorcyclists, though not forgetting cyclists.
However to use an old adage, if the jobs worth doing, it’s worth doing right!
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