Warm weather often brings with it a supreme annoyance for road cyclists – the ‘surface dressing’ method of road resurfacing. Surface dressed roads can make for a jolting, decelerated ride, whilst loose granite chippings may pose a hazard to bike and rider.

Surface dressing involves spraying a stretch of road with bitumen and covering it with granite chippings, which are rolled into place and further embedded as cars drive over the area. Once set, excess chippings are swept away. The process requires high road surface temperatures, hence its frequent appearance in the summer months.

Councils maintain the efficacy of the method: a spokesperson for Cumbria County Council described surface dressing as a “cost effective way of sealing up the network”, whilst conceding that a local cyclist had complained after falling from his bike on a surface dressed stretch of road. They stressed that areas with loose chippings are appropriately signposted, and that road users are thus expected to use the road with due caution.

Northumberland County Council further defended their use of the method, counting increased skid resistance for drivers and prolonged road life among its benefits. They added that surface dressing seals the road, preventing water from compromising its underlying structure.

Surface dressing: Your opinion

We asked CW readers what they thought of surface dressing roads via Twitter

Hallam Wiltshire
“Absolutely awful. Caused me to crash the other week and bruise (could easily have been a break) my collarbone”

Jayson Bryant
“Cheap and nasty, it’s very dangerous for cyclist”

Dave Ody
“I’d sooner dodge potholes”

Jamie Salvage
“I was descending on a steep hill that had been treated and it was terrifying. I went back up and changed my route.”

Sandy Cyclist
“A cheap and dangerous way to gloss over the shocking state of the roads”

Matt Whittle
“Terrible! Once went down a hill with a sharp left bend and got wrapped around a railing at the bottom because of it!”

Colin Fraser
“Death trap, awful when just laid as tar and stones stick to tyres and rip them apart”

Related links

New road surfaces in Surrey cause problems for cyclists