The Road Surface Treatments Association (RSTA) has responded to criticisms of the use surface dressing to repair and improve roads in Oxfordshire.

West Oxfordshire district councillor Dan Levy had criticised the use of surface dressing to restore and improve road surface skid resistance and prevent potholes from forming complaining that the initial loose chippings are unpleasant for cyclists when they are thrown up by passing vehicles.

Surface dressing involves the spray application of an emulsion binder onto a prepared road surface followed immediately by the application of chippings and roller compaction. Part of the application process is the requirement for temporary speed restrictions for 2 – 3 days to prevent chippings from being torn out of the new road surface before being properly embedded. It is during this period that road users who fail to abide by the advised speed restrictions report problems of loose chippings.

“Surface dressing plays an important role in keeping roads in a safe condition,” said Rory O’Connor, RSTA interim chief executive. “For cyclists, its use to repair and improve road surfaces is particularly welcomed as it seals the road and so prevent potholes from forming. Deteriorating road surfaces and potholes, as every cyclist will agree, can be particularly dangerous.”

The cycling organisation Cycling UK reports that from 2007 to 2018 a ‘poor or defective road surface’ was recorded by police as being a contributory factor that resulted in the death of 26 cyclists. The organisation goes on to report that 12% of all legal claims handled by its Incident Line are due to poor road maintenance and it calls for local authorities to “devote more of their resources to road surface renewal and resurfacing programmes.”

O’Connor continued: “Far from criticising Oxfordshire County Council for undertaking its surface dressing programme, the Council should be commended for investing £32 million to maintain and improve its road network thereby ensuring that it is safe for both cyclists and motorists.”

More information regarding road surface dressing for motorcyclists (and cyclists)