Cycle Lanes and cold weather – advice from ACF

Advice to Cyclists in Winter conditions

Following a number of incidents during recent icy weather Aberdeen Cycle Forum has been in contact with the council to confirm their gritting policy particulary in relation to cycle paths:

Aberdeen City Council carries out winter maintenance operations (i.e. gritting) using a priority system. This is outlined below:

Priority 1 routes are defined as principal or other classified roads which serve as major traffic distributors. These carry heavy traffic flows, public service bus routes or access public service or emergency facilities.

Priority 2 routes are defined as principal or other classified roads not included in the priority 1 list, but still serve as main roads or as traffic distributors. They will carry medium traffic flows or give access to community or public facilities or a non-essential nature.

Priority 3 roites are defined as access roads, service roads and minor roads where it could be expected that residents and employees could make their way with some difficulty in all but abnormal conditions to the nearest priority route.

During a particularly icy spell, priority routes are repeatedly gritted until they remain clear and safe for vehicular and pedestrian traffic. Depending on the conditions, treatment can often be delayed on priority 2 and 3 routes as all the Council’s resources are tied up on priority 1 routes.

Gritting to cycle and dual use paths would be treated on a lower priority basis as described above”.

The following advice is therefore offered to cyclists after a period of sub-zero temperatures or snowfall:

  • Be aware that you are more likely to skid if you try to stop quickly. Allow yourself a greater stopping distances and reduce your speed gently, especially when approaching corners and junctions.
  • If you can see ice don’t attempt to cycle over it! If you do you will come off your bike – don’t learn the hard way. However, you may not always be able to see patches of ice.
  • Consider taking a different route to your normal one. Cycle and dual use paths are not high priority for gritting and may not have been treated so it may be safer to use alternative roads, or cycle lanes on the road that will receive a “share” of grit instead . If you do decide to use a cycle path take particular care when joining it.

Proceed with your highest level of caution, making allowances for other road and/or path users that will not be taking as much extra care as you are.

In icy or snowy conditions use your rear brake only to slow down to reduce
skidding. (If the front brake is applied harder than the back brake the rear end of the bike will move sideways on icy ground and you will loose control).

If you find yourself on an icy patch avoid braking or turning and ride gently in a straight line until you reach the other side.

Consider changing your normal bike tyres for wider tyres, tyres with a deeper tread or studded tyres. Studded tyres in particular have greater traction on snow and are available at most good cycle shops.