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Gritting your roads

Bedford Borough Council is responsible for gritting (salting) roads when temperatures drop below zero to make sure all main routes on the network are safe and clear of snow and ice.

We will also clear any snowfall and help keep local roads safe and clear for drivers.

What roads do we grit?

A gritting network of roads has been created so that roads carrying the highest amount of traffic and with the highest risk of accidents are treated. This means that just under half of the road network is salted.

All A and B roads are salted along with other important local roads.

We also try to ensure that the majority of road users live within a reasonable distance of a salted route.

In prolonged snow and ice, additional roads may be treated, but only when the normal salting network shown on the map is relatively clear of ice and snow.

When do we grit?

Gritting is carried out when road temperatures are expected to drop below zero and when the roads are expected to be damp. Ice will not form on a dry road surface in a dry atmosphere. We try to carry out gritting either after the evening or before the morning peak traffic periods.

However, during adverse weather conditions, we may have to grit at other times, even 24 hours around the clock if we have snow.

How do we know when to grit?

We use a computer system that collects weather and road information at different sites across the Borough. It also tells us if any grit is left on the road from previous salting. This enables us to use grit as wisely as possible.

The Met Office use this information along with their other weather data to predict weather conditions and road surface temperatures across the Borough (see forecast text above).

It is on this information that we base our decision on whether to grit or not and at what time of the day or night.

Clearing snow and ice from pavements yourself

The Department for Transport (Dft) has produced a 'snow code' that gives information on clearing snow and ice from the paths outside your home.

The Council’s Winter Maintenance Policy incorporates the latest government advice which dispels the urban myth that you may be liable if someone else slips or falls on an area you have treated. Pedestrians and drivers have a responsibility to be careful themselves and there have been no cases in the UK of people being sued for clearing snow.  

Tips for clearing snow and ice

  • Clear the snow or ice early in the day:
    It’s easier to move fresh, loose snow rather than hard snow that has packed together from people walking on it. So if possible, start removing the snow and ice in the morning. If you remove the top layer of snow in the morning, any sunshine during the day will help melt any ice beneath. You can then cover the path with salt before nightfall to stop it refreezing overnight.
  • Use salt or sand – not water
    If you use water to melt the snow, it may refreeze and turn to black ice. Black ice increases the risk of injuries as it is invisible and very slippery. You can prevent black ice by spreading some salt on the area you have cleared. You can use ordinary table or dishwasher salt – a tablespoon for each square metre you clear should work. Do not use the salt found in salting bins – this will be needed to keep the roads clear.
    Be careful not to spread salt on plants or grass as it may cause them damage.
    If you don’t have enough salt, you can also use sand or ash. These won’t stop the path icing over as well as salt, but will provide good grip under foot.
  • Take care where you move the snow
    When you’re shovelling snow, take care where you put it so it doesn’t block people’s paths or drains. Make sure you make a path down the middle of the area to be cleared first, so you have a clear surface to walk on. Then shovel the snow from the centre of the path to the sides.
  • Offer to clear your neighbours’ paths
    If your neighbour will have difficulty getting in and out of their home, offer to clear snow and ice around their property as well. Check that any elderly or disabled neighbours are alright in the cold weather. If you’re worried about them, contact Bedford Borough Council.

Advice for drivers

How do I get more information?

If you have any questions, please telephone the Highway Helpdesk on 01234 718003.

Bedford Borough Council does not look after trunk roads (the A1, the A421 and the A428 (from the A1 to the Borough boundary) nor motorways.

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