Original URL: http://www.theregister.co.uk/2007/02/13/sticky_grit/
UK bikers skate on sticky grit
When rock salt and molasses don't mix
UK bikers have launched an online petition* aimed at getting the government to rethink its "sticky grit" de-icing strategy.
The Highways Agency first trialled a molasses/grit concoction back in 1994, the BBC records, because common-or-garden grit can easily be swept from the road by wind or rain. Accordingly, it threw some molasses into the mix and gave it a try on the M4 near Bristol and Bath.
A Highways Agency spokesman explained: "There is nothing wrong with the traditional variety of rock salt, it works very effectively down to low temperatures. We are happy with the rock salt, but we are just seeing if this development in technology works any better."
Apparently not, according to acifionados of two wheels. While you might think that molasses would prove an excellent adhesive for keeping you on the straight and narrow, the bikers' petition states: "It seems that once the cold snap is over the resulting mollases based product causes a slippery sheen to form on the road surface."
As a result, "the two wheeled community of motorcyclist and cyclist have been reporting more and more accidents". ®
Sheep, on the other hand, have found sticky grit more to their taste. Try this video report from Flintshire where ovine sugar fanciers have been taking to the tarmac in search of a fix. Thanks to Ian Williams for the tip-off.
*The petition has now been withdrawn. According to the e-petitions webmaster, this was at the behest of the petitioner.