Sunday, 14 January 2018

Kerb Your Enthusiasm: Bus Stop Accessibility

I'm currently doing a lot of thinking about kerbs. This partly because I am obsessed with them (they are bread and butter for highway engineers) and partly because I am starting to write a guide on their use.

The guide will be published through City Infinity in the coming few months, but in the process of undertaking some research, I thought it would be nice to concentrate on how kerbs can be used at bus stops. This blog is a kind of follow up to my first kerb blog post which has also spawned one on stepped cycle tracks; plus it helps me get my mind back into writing about details rather than some of my ranting of late. 

So, why are we interested in kerbs and bus stops first off? Well, modern buses are low floor and that means that the majority of the lower deck will be at a single level to enable people using wheelchairs and pushchairs to access services and the floor of the bus is also as low to the ground as possible. Actually, most people will zero in on wheelchairs and pushchairs, but as is always the case with accessibility, improvements for those who need them most will be of benefit to everyone, so low floor buses are good for visually impaired people, people who use sticks or other walking aids and people with balance or dexterity difficulties.

Having low floor buses is one thing, but in order for them to be accessible, the bus stop environment needs to be compatible with the vehicles. From a kerbnerd point of view, this means setting the kerb height correctly to be compatible with low floor buses. In practice this means the kerb in the passenger loading area is probably going to have to be set higher than is usual. The nominal kerb "face" we use generally will be between 100mm and 125mm; this is to say the amount of kerb sticking up above the surface of the carriageway. The aim is to have the threshold of the loading door(s) to be within 200mm of the kerb.

In Inclusive Mobility we are recommended to consider using 125-140mm kerb faces, although in some cases, something a little higher might be appropriate. This guidance is a little long in the tooth in part and while it hasn't been updated, bus technology has been and if a kerb is too high, then it could create compatibility issues with the vehicle. As well as having step-free lower decks and low floors, modern buses will also have suspension which can "kneel" - to drop the whole vehicle down and a wheelchair ramp which can be deployed from the front door if single door operation, or rear doors if two door operation (bendy-buses will generally have three doors, so the centre doors in that case).

Here is a video (not mine) of a wheelchair ramp being deployed;


There are suppliers of special kerb units with perhaps the most common being the Kassel kerb from Brett Paving which comes with 160mm faces where kneeling buses are used or 180mm where they are not. Increasingly, the 180mm version is becoming obsolete with the most modern bus designs.


Above, is a photo of a Kassel kerb insitu. It's a short length and so will be used for single door operation. Note the textured top surface to reduce slip risk and the curved profile to the area between the flat part level with the carriageway and the upstand (which is raked back away from the vertical). The photo below shows a longer kerb length which would enable multi-door buses to stop (and multiple buses).


To show there is no bias, Marshalls also produce a bus stop kerb which comes with a separate channel block. Used together, the height of the kerb can be varied to fit the local requirements and the channel block has bumps to help guide the bus driver into the correct position.

We don't have to use special units as the standard half-battered kerb does a fine job. Even though we generally use them between 100mm and 125mm, they can be laid to give a nominal 140mm upstand with ease. Indeed, that has been the choice for years in my day job where we have upgraded a few bus stops to be fully accessible!

Making a bus stop is not just about the height of the kerbs. A crucial element is for the bus to be able to be driven tight into the stop in the first place - a bus stopped way out from the kerb is simply no good. To keep the stopping position clear, we are going to need a parking restriction of some kind. The best answer is to use a "bus stop clearway". This has a wide yellow line along the edge of the carriageway and a dotted yellow line marking out a long rectangle; often called a "bus cage". The layout of a bus stop clearway is prescribed in the Traffic Signs Regulations & General Directions 2016;



For a bus stop clearway to be enforceable, it needs to have an upright restriction sign which is a familiar black writing on a yellow background, also a traffic sign prescribed in the TSRGD16. Interestingly, however, bus stop clearways do not require traffic orders, although the Department for Transport suggests that consultation should take place before a decision is taken on their introduction;


The "clearway" restriction means "no stopping" except buses and taxis (not minicabs) for boarding alighting. Therefore, they can be controversial if installed outside homes and businesses because of complaints about parking and loading impact; however something has to be prioritised and a bus stop without a clearway is more likely to be abused by drivers.


The photo above shows what happens if there is no clearway. The red car is stopping the bus driver getting close to the kerb and they cannot pull far enough forward to have the rear door adjacent to the high kerb of the stop. The dropped kerb to the driveway access means that there is no way the driver can deploy the wheelchair ramp from the rear doors with a low kerb.


The photo above shows a clearway in action. Note the position of the bus stop sign (known as a "flag"). The flag is often arranged to help bus drivers stop in the right position which is with the front wheels of the vehicle in line with the flag. This means the front doors will be within the area of the shelter (if one is provided). Sometimes the stop will be arranged so the front or rear of the vehicle will be stopped in line (for a localised reason) and these are known as "head stops" and "tail stops" respectively.

You will also note from the photograph that the stopping position is towards the far end of the stop and the clearway is quite long. The reason for this lies in the steering geometry of buses with two door operation in that they require a longer distance to pull into the kerb (at a gentle angle) to ensure both doors are close to the footway. Pulling away from the stop requires less space.


The photo above shows the original kerbs have been reset to the correct height and a long enough section has been adjusted to comfortably deal with the bus driver not having to be perfectly accurate in the stopping position. The stop area has also been repaved to ensure it's nice and flat and in the future, it will show the "accessible area" within which dropped kerbs should not be placed - often an issue in urban areas where people want a dropped kerb to serve a driveway or where a developer fails to consider the needs of bus passengers in their design.

It's not just about the kerbs of course, but luckily, Transport for London produced an excellent update to it's bus stop design guidance last year which I'd recommend you read for a comprehensive explanation of the subject.

Sunday, 7 January 2018

It's A Network Problem

I've been following the debates around a few of the higher profile "streets" schemes as they go through public consultation and the thing which is striking me most is that the consultations rarely mention the wider network and nor do many of those debating the issues.

Much of the problem (I think) is the way in which consultations have turned into mini-referenda where the public is invited to choose sides with the inevitable loss of the "yes, but" or "no, unless" views which can be the ones to offer different insights. It's also about the nature of the things being consulted on which are often corridor-type projects (regardless of mode) where area projects would be more appropriate.

There are so many examples to pick on, but in London, Transport for London consulted on "cycle superhighway 9" which includes cycle tracks on Chiswick High Road. Those in favour of the scheme describe the existing situation which is hostile towards cycling and those against raising a whole list of reasons, but essentially, they're not liking the threat to the motor-centric status quo (and yes, I am biased). 

In my experience, those against a scheme often have far more to say than those who support and it is easy to see how decision makers are influenced by the volume of objection in terms of noise and points made! However, in these consultations, there are some voices where people are raising genuine concerns about displacement of through (motor) traffic onto side roads, the impact on bus journey times and that loading/ servicing of commercial premises will be more difficult.

There will be people against change and no matter what you tell them, that is their position and effort to try and influence their view is on diminishing returns. People with genuine concerns can be brought along and this must mean looking at the issue from a network level. For example, if we know there is going to be traffic reassignment (at least initially), or perhaps more importantly there is going to be a perception that this is going to happen, then perhaps we should build that into the scheme. 

This is not to say that I'm advocating a position of where we should accommodate everyone's view, it is simply not possible, and with that, it must go back to a conversation about what our streets are for and to for those making decisions (and their advisors) to be honest with themselves and the public at large. With CS9 though Chiswick, some people have said that support protecting cycling, but not in that location. 

Even if you don't know the area, you can easily see from a map, that the alternative is to stick people on the A4 which is not somewhere that space is going to be reallocated or on a wiggly route around backstreets where every modal filter proposal will end up as a mini-refurendum!

Looking at this as a network issue, we must set out our broad priorities for the area. At one end of the scale, we have the A4 which is about getting longer distance (motor) traffic into West London. At the other end of the scale we have residential streets which should not be there to provide capacity for through traffic (although many people would disagree with me there). 

Then we have Chiswick High Road. Like many similar streets in the UK, we have the tension between people wanting to use it like the A4 and people wanting it to be a local street serving the community. The problem is that one cannot ever be fully compatible with the other. If we treat the High Road as a movement corridor, then we are going to need traffic signals at certain junctions to deal with conflict and controlled crossings to give people a fighting chance to cross. 

We are going to need bus lanes if we are to prioritise public transport (we don't always). We are going to have pressure for on-street parking and loading. We are going to have pressure to have wide footways (because it's a shopping street). We are also going to have pressure for the other things like nice street trees, tables and chairs in front of cafes and occasional maintenance and utility works.

By trying to permit everything in places like this which have evolved over many years, rebalancing space towards any one mode (regardless) will have an impact and and unless we think about the network as a whole, this impact will be felt over an area which is why we should think about the area as a whole.

We don't seem to like prioritising in the UK. Many local authorities will have a hierarchy of movement - here's Hackney's which I reproduce just as an example, rather than a critique;
  • Pedestrians
  • Cyclists
  • Public transport users
  • Freight distribution (local)
  • Car users (multi-occupancy)
  • Car users (local)
  • Car users (non-local) 
The problem with this approach is two-fold;
  1. Having a hierarchy is one thing, applying it is another,
  2. It's a one-size fits all approach which doesn't recognise the network approach.
Clearly, we are not going to prioritise pedestrians on a road like the A4 and to suggest we are is nonsense. Depending on what such a road connects, we may not even need to put pedestrians at the top of the hierarchy. For example, if the road has direct pedestrian access every 2km or so, then perhaps we have a cycle track which pedestrians might occasionally need to access (say to bus stops). In that situation, we provide a legible and separated layout where people walking need it most (between the access point and the bus stop) and the rest can be a shared-use cycle track.

In our residential area, we might rightly put pedestrians and then cyclists at the top of our hierarchy, but public transport, freight and non-local car users are not going to feature. Perhaps the hierarchy needs to explicitly mention school children as they may be prioritised above local car users (and to be fair to Hackney, they have schemes where pedestrian zones are in force around schools as school travel times).

If our High Street follows a hierarchy like this, it is not going to be possible to include all users (because space is a finite resource) and so we need to prioritise. Walking, cycling, public transport and local freight must surely be the most important and the ones we can fairly easily accommodate. For private car users, we create a motoring grid to get them to and from the A4 (for example), but if we are to prioritise the High Road for the modes I have suggested, people cannot expect to easily drive along its whole length.

Where we keep trying to accommodate everyone (and fail), we continue with enabling people to drive short journeys and this leads to the regular issues of congested High Road type places and "rat running" in side roads. If we looked at change at the network level and prioritised properly, we would surely be able fairly accommodate sustainable travel modes, make quieter residential streets and also make our High Roads nicer places to linger, while dealing with essential servicing.

The other thing to grapple with is the issue of "we don't have a problem". The best example is where a controlled parking zone is being considered. Those in the core of the area have an issue, but at a distance away, people won't. The problem is, that a smaller CPZ will push the parking issues to the fringe and those who didn't have a problem now do. Rinse and repeat. 

The problem here is properly admitting to those that don't have a problem now that they will and that is why a comprehensive scheme is needed. A streets scheme is no different and only by looking at the network can we foresee what the issues might be and then challenge them head on. If it means we have to be a little slower in design and consultation terms, then so be it.

Perhaps looking at the network will mean that once we decide what we are going to do and how we are going to prioritise (once we have consulted), then we have a plan which we can stick to. We can use temporary materials to rebalance and reclaim space as it allows us to cheaply tweak things if there is an issue, and then we can gradually upgrade an area as funding permits (while noting there will be big ticket changes needed). 

This approach could also align with the needs of utilities and maintenance works. For example, as we apply some concrete blocks as modal filters to protect residential areas from High Road changes, we could have the utilities on the High Road undertaking diversions and upgrades which would take out capacity and so give people the chance to get used to it. At the same time, we implement bus service changes, loading reforms and so on.

Yes, it means more time and planning up front and potentially longer "on site" disruption, but everyone knows the plan and they know the end game. What we can perhaps avoid is putting in a large expensive scheme and then having to go back and retrofit it or the surrounding area to deal with issues which were, in truth, foreseeable.

Tuesday, 26 December 2017

The Predictable & Lazy End Of Year Roundup: 2017

Another busy and interesting year is over with - where did it go! We're in the quiet period between Christmas and New Year, so it's the perfect opportunity for me to review my 2017.

January
The first post of the year was a technical one discussing the various ways in which cycle tracks can be configured and given that the law to build them is straight-forward, they're not limited by the technical or the legal.


Next, I had a look at the experimental traffic order process - something we don't do enough of. It allows us to try things and so the debate is held knowing the impacts rather than what might be.


I then returned to the tricky subject of tactile paving where I looked at how it had been installed on a paving scheme which left me far from convinced that it was right.

The end of January saw me back talking about cycle tracks again, but with an update on how kerbs can be used. Kerbs is a surprisingly large subject and I will be returning to in 2018 at some point.

February
The month started with me going on about getting little details right, another nerdy subject which I hold dear.

Next, was a short report and lots of photos from the Stop Killing Cyclists' 10 by 2020 protest at the Treasury calling for 10% of the transport budget to be allocated to active travel. It was my (then) 2 year old's first protest!

I followed up with a geeky post on magnetometers which are an important, but hidden part of modern traffic signal control and yes, I took one apart!


A practical post followed with a step by step guide to installing cycle parking hoops. A post enabled by me needing to install another hoop at home!

The month ended with me having a whinge about how electric and low emission motor vehicles are being subsidised and yet (as usual) there is nothing to help those wishing to travel actively.

March
The month started with a quick look behind the headlines which were (as usual) going on about the mythical war on drivers where I did 5 minutes more work than a journalist to show the money raised through fines (for people doing something wrong) were tiny compared to the high levels of compliance.

Next was a take on what "balancing the needs of all road users" actually means - hint, it's nonsense. I then wrote about a passing visit to Exmouth Market in London which gave me some clues on what makes a great street (for people that is).


I ended the month with a quick run through "Safety At Street & Road Works, A Code Of Practice".

April
For April Fool's Day, I wasn't fooling around as I discussed some new flexibility given to UK zebra crossings - the Parallel Zebra. Another subject I need to return to in the future. Next was my All Purpose Suburban Car Dependency Bingo guide.

Next I talked about a little walking and cycling link which had been controversially hit with staggered (and now removed) barriers. I like these little problem-solving posts as they get people thinking (and I enjoy thinking about them too!)


Next, a photo-heavy post about Van Gogh Walk in Lambeth which is truly one of London's hidden street gems and then to round the month off, a report on that week's #SchoolRunStories pop-up campaign.

May
I debated the point that it is easy to show empty cycling infrastructure, but we never see it applied to roads! In fact, it all just misses the point. My next post reported on a live bollard vs fire engine experiment which was a proof-of-concept design for modal filtering which has so many advantages.


I then took the piss out of a London taxi driver who resorted to "whataboutery" to make a point which fell flat. A reminder to operate within facts rather than strawmen! I then used the looming bank holiday to poke at the usual predictions of traffic chaos.

June
The month started with a rant about tiptoeing around the provision of active travel infrastructure (I thought we could be more forceful) and then a little site visit to the wonderful Bolina Road in South London.


I next looked at the reaction to terrorism and it's every day impact on people walking and cycling where counter-terrorism barriers are deployed (often badly) and how we assess risk.

The end of the month saw the first of two cycle safari posts about a trip to Hatfield and Stevenage in Hertfordshire.

July
The second post from Hertfordshire showed some nascent Dutch-style infrastructure. The next post looked at staggered crossings and why they are designed in that way.

Next up was a short post with me suggesting that those involved in the design, construction and management of cycling infrastructure should be riding their layouts, plus a suggestion that campaigners should showcase the very best to show what is required.

I then looked at pedestrian and cycle zones with the month being rounded off with a #BeyondTheBicycle review of Ride London where I kept a sharp eye for some non-standard cycles.


August
My first post of the month looked at how the media leaped on road humps as part of the Government's air quality plan (itself being rather low quality). Next was a long post where I gave my views on the questions raised by the Greater London Assembly's investigation into Outer London Junctions. I then looked at how narrow shared paths and barriers doubly discriminate by forcing conflict and excluding people.

The end of the month saw an introduction of several posts on a trip around the Netherlands.


September
My first post of the month compared and contrasted Dutch roundabouts which in itself contrasted with the UK's resistance to keep people safe thrown into sharp relief by another vigil to remember another person killed while cycling on London's streets.


The middle of the month was more optimistic with a photo-report of the 2017 Kidical Mass ride in Central London, followed up with a look at a Dutch side road treatment and then a discussion about competency and street design (and how design objectives might be the real issue).

October
The month started with a look at a Dutch signalised junction and then a post on how UK law might be adversely affecting active travel. I was then disappointed on how the platforms of Outer London Crossrail stations are not step-free.

The end of October saw me writing a post about travelling longer distances by cycle in the Netherlands which was a truly astonishing experience.


November
My Dutch travels continued with a trip to Maastricht, which was an utter delight and then my thoughts on the mythical Dutch cycling culture


I then rounded up my Dutch cycling experience with some other interesting things which didn't make a whole post of their own.

I ended the month with a little celebration of this blog reaching its fifth birthday!

December
As the temperatures dropped, I looked at the nonsensical rules which prevent people using mobility scooters on cycle tracks - not something the Dutch impose on people.


Next up was another photo-report of the London Kidical Mass #KidicalXmass ride which is now almost a traditional part of Christmas!

London then had a rare sprinkling of snow which compelled me to write about it and this was followed up by my last proper post for the year which saw me falling off my bike as I skidded on some black ice - hopefully my 'low' point of the year!


So, it just remains for me to thank everyone I have met this year (either in real life or virtually), thank you for the debate, the learning and the fun. Special thanks to London Kidical Mass for reminding us why we push for change in our towns and cities and to my family for posing with Dutch cycling infrastructure over the summer. Of course, thanks to those reading this blog and best wishes for 2018.

Thursday, 21 December 2017

On The Slippery Slope

Following hot on the heels (geddit) of last week's post about the snow and the "winter service" response, this week, I was at the recieving end of the cold weather.

Yes, for the second time since 2011 (when I started cycling for transport), I came a cropper on a patch of ice. Don't worry I am fine and as far as I can tell, the bike is OK too, although I did ache for a few days after.

I returned to the scene of the crime and the cause was fairly clear, but more on that in a minute. It's a fairly new route for me because of a recent scheme which swapped some fire gates for bollards and now allows me to get off a section of a main road and into a fairly quiet residential area.

The photo below is where I came off. What I should have done is slowed right down and turned right after those two manhole covers (because you don't want to change direction on slippery covers). What I actually did was turn right before the covers, hitting a perfectly smooth (and invisible) patch of black ice just to the left of the centre line (as you look at it) in the side road. Black ice isn't really black, it is actually a crystal clear layer of ice which lets the surface colour come through!


I remember the incident in slow motion. The main road (to the left) was covered in frost which is generally not too bad to ride over and the sun was just coming up, bathing the area in light. I remember it's warmth and welcomed it on such a cold day.

As I started my turn, I realised that the entrance to the junction was a sheet of ice and almost instinctively, I knew I was coming off. My bike slid out from under me and ended on its right side by the kerb and I thumped down onto the road on my back, just favouring my right shoulder.

I think I was a little bit surprised, but I jumped right up, grabbed my bike and popped it onto its stand to check it. I had no pain at all, no damage to my clothes and so felt rather lucky. An old boy hurried over to see if I was OK (I said I was) and he said that he had slipped there the other day. After putting my bike chain back on the cogs, I got back on and carried on (slowly) to work.

The next day, I actually felt quite battered, despite having no bruises and so I took pain killers for a couple of days. Returning to the site, it was lightly raining and so the puddles showed up well;


This photo is taken from the side road and there is an area around the where the give way and centre lines meet holding water. With a bit of surface moisture and cold temperatures, this is going to freeze. As I stopped to take photos, a lady stuck her head out of the window of a house and asked if I was the guy who came off his bike earlier in the week. I said I was and she said that if I was going to report it (to the council) then tell them a school kid also came off his bike there as well.

Several things came together to throw me off. The junction is actually a crossroads. Three of the 'arms' run down hill to the junction and the fourth (the one I was turning into) runs down hill into the junction for the first 50 metres or so. If there is some cold air moving around, some of it is going to stay caught in this little hollow and freeze any moisture present.

The main road (to the left of the first photo) has a much rougher texture than the side road and even if covered in frost, stones in the surface will protrude and give some grip. The road I turned into has had a surface treatment applied (to seal the surface) and because the area in the entrance to it is uneven, water holds. The old and worn surface would have had cracks to let the water run through, despite being uneven.

The position of the manhole covers influenced my turning position and so I was still turning as I hit the ice - there was no way I was staying upright. Being a back street, there is no gritting routinely taking place - unlike the main road I was avoiding by using this route! Finally, being a new "route", I hadn't cycled it in the winter and so didn't know that this junction could ice up.

I often say that everything is a learning experience and this incident is no exception. I have now stored this little quirk in my mental map and I will be more careful passing through on cold days. Beyond me, though, there is an important lesson in highways management.

The quiet route I took is not signed as a "cycle route" and so the local inspection regime will be set up for basic cyclical visits. The location won't be on any priority gritting (winter service) routes and so throws up the issue of relying on side streets as general use for cycling in lieu of doing anything decent on main roads (of course, people on foot have known this for years).

If this was part of a designated cycle route, then it is reasonable to expect that it would be inspected to a greater frequency (depending on it's status within a network) and potentially, it is a contender for gritting (depending on network importance). Both matters of course require the highway authority to have actually made the relevant assessments and included them within their service plans (both inspection and service).

Where formal routes are taken through side streets (some can be very well used), then the local authority concerned will need to up its game and inspect them more often for defects (as they would on a busy main road) and apply a reasonable winter service regime for the route's status. I am not sure this message is getting through however.

For my nemesis junction, the unevenness of the road surface is highly unlikely to be a candidate for investigation as a defect given the competing maintenance priorities elsewhere (there are no potholes or cracks). I'll be keeping an eye on the location, but I doubt it'll freeze that often, but I will certainly be taking a little more care here!

Monday, 11 December 2017

It's Snow Joke

Many parts of the UK get snow each Winter, but being a Londoner, it's a novelty for me and Sunday's sprinkling got me thinking.

With any significant snowfall in the Capital, the place grinds to a halt, although being a big place, it seems that north of the river was more affected and certainly out on the edge we had plenty (being on higher ground). By Monday morning, the rain had washed most of the snow away to leave one wondering about what all the fuss was about!

As it was a Sunday morning, fewer people were out and about than on a weekday. At least early in the morning, it wasn't too bad under foot and the kids took advantage to give the sledges a rare outing. Sadly, some of the people driving didn't see the need to slow down and we got sprayed a couple of times by the slush - is it a 4x4 owners' mentality that they are truly invincible?


We walked to the local shops (well Mrs RH and one of the girls did, my boy and youngest daughter made it half-way before she decided she was too cold!). 

My wife was chatting to a lady who just got off the bus as we passed the stop - there were 40 minute delays and being a carer who didn't drive, it was going to be a tough day. 


We spent the rest of the day indoors. Twitter and the news bulletins kept us up to date with the transport problems across London. Of course, there were plenty of pundits going on about how council's had been caught out, but this simply wasn't true. The problem was that heavy rain in the early hours would have washed away any salt and a lack of traffic on a Sunday would have meant a lack of traffic-action.

I should perhaps explain that "gritting" is actually the application of rock salt rather than "grit", although in some cases sand is used (often pointlessly). The use of salt on an already-frozen highway surface will melt the ice (pre-salting) and when applied before freezing temperatures occur, it will lower the freezing point of water. Many local authorities use an additive to make the rock salt sticky which is a byproduct from the sugar refining and livestock feed industries.

The problem with snow-fall is that unless extremely light, pre-salting can be overwhelmed and when the snow has fallen in any decent accumulation, gritting just won't melt the snow. If we then get into snow clearance, we need a much thicker layer to make the use of snow-ploughs viable. Because of the rarity of snow at that depth in most parts of the UK, ploughs are an expensive piece of kit to have on the off-chance (although some gritting lorries can have a small plough attached).

Where there is a layer of ice or hard-packed snow, then actual grit can be added to the rock salt to help break up the frozen layer and provide some traction. the problem with all of this is the salt is highly corrosive and can attack vehicles. Many large bridges will be treated with de-icing chemicals to reduce the risk of salt attacking reinforcement.

Footways and cycle tracks are a different matter. The use of rock salt requires the wheel action of traffic to make it effective it crushes the salt which mixes with water to form brine. Foot and cycle tyres cannot crush the salt and so a brine solution can be sprayed onto surfaces to either stop ice forming, or to help melt it. There are some places in the UK where this is deployed (especially on cycle tracks) because regular low temperatures and decent cycleways make it worth investing in the kit.

Where snow and ice have accumulated on footways, the best way to get rid of it is to get out with shovels and clear it, followed by the application of brine, or fine salt (so long as the wind doesn't blow it away). The official advice is here and to be honest, it is unrealistic to expect local authorities to have the resources to get into every side street and so clearing the area outside of where you live or work is a really helpful thing to do. The local authority will have hierarchies for treatment, but main roads and bus routes will be the priority. 

The whole approach to dealing with winter weather on the highway network is known as "winter service". It's essentially planning an then implementing a strategy to keep people moving. Low temperatures form the main thrust of a winter service plan, but snow certainly features (even in London) and increasingly, dealing with flooding is becoming more prevalent.

The future is going to be interesting. Climate change experts suggest that weather will become more extreme and so in the UK, we might expect more storms and rain leading to flooding. Also, it could mean that heavy snowfall occurs and places which are not usually used in dealing with it will have greater disruption. 

How we use of road network will also change. Sunday's snow made me wonder if autonomous vehicles would have coped. There is a debate raging about how AVs will navigate and how they will deal with people outside of the vehicle. There are discussions about how AVs will use a combination of GPS and on-board sensors. The trouble is that GPS is not perfectly accurate and sensors could be disrupted by snow and indeed heavy rain or fog. It is a world of difference between a sunny, dry Californian motorway and a snow-covered local UK street with parking on both sides!