Wednesday, 20 August 2008

Non-Slip Inspection Covers

You might expect a 'pro-safety' person like me to be mighty impressed by the introduction of non-slip insection covers.

Well . . . I am, and I'm not. Although the reduction - and it'll be very gradual because there's millions of the 'slippy' ones out there - in slides on 'manhole' covers has to be welcomed, in my humble opinion there will have been many more crashes where riders try to avoid riding over the covers, then crash when they hit them at an angle, perhaps tense and with the brakes on, than there have been due to actual slides.

In fact, the main advantage of these covers might be to reduce the 'mental' impact, and riders might just continue on and ride over them, and other covers too.

I work on the basis that unless a cover is significantly raised or dropped, I'll carry on over it. Also if it's somewher I might need to brake (eg on the approach to a junction, then I may avoid it, or instead just modulate my braking accordingly.

Even when cornering, a small slip isn't often a 'big issue' - at any reasonable speed a bike will be many feet further along the road before the rider is able to react ot any slip - and even then is only likely to panic.

Where I do see these new covers being of advantage is that they indicate that riders are being considered in road planning and engineering, following on from the IHE (Inst. Highway Eng.) guidelines recently published. What would be nice would be more care of ensuring that covers are kept to the same level as the rest of the road surface.

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Press Rlease:

03 July 2008

Although representing only 1% of road traffic, motorcyclists suffer around 20% of the annual rate of 300,000 road accident deaths and serious injuries. Government figures published in the UK and abroad confirm the dangers facing this most vulnerable group of road users and demonstrate just how disproportionate the figures for their deaths and injuries are. Creating a safer road infrastructure is seen as a priority for reducing accidents caused by skidding.

Newly launched, Saint-Gobain Pipelines’ GripTopTM access covers provide a solution for the problems caused when the raised metal studs on traditional access covers become polished by passing traffic leaving a smooth, slippery surface which is potentially lethal to motorcyclists and cyclists.

Part of a global business, Saint-Gobain Pipelines is the European market leader for access covers and gratings and has pioneered many innovations for both on and off-highway applications. In this instance, the company set about addressing a major road safety concern for motorcyclists and cyclists by developing an access cover with excellent skid resistance.

Concerns principally relate to the susceptibility of two-wheeled vehicles to the nature of the road surface and the vulnerability of riders to manhole covers with inadequate skid resistance or located in the carriageway where the motorcyclist could be leaning into a bend.

The dangers of worn access covers is also a high priority throughout Europe and is cited as one of the main hazards leading to the increased rate of accidents involving motorcyclists by the Federation of European Motorcyclists’ Associations (FEMA).

Daniel D├ębois of Saint-Gobain Pipelines explains: "Traditional iron and steel access covers are designed with raised metal studs to increase grip but, as FEMA highlighted in its campaign to improve riding conditions for motorcyclists, these become polished by passing traffic resulting in poor skid resistance compared to the surrounding highway. There have been urgent calls for an alternative to smooth metal and, as the market leader for these products, we saw it as our responsibility to invest in the development of a safer product."

Saint-Gobain Pipelines’ GripTopTM, available in a complete range of D400 access covers, combines the strength and durability of ductile iron with the proven stopping power of aggregate. The key to its success in providing a long-lasting anti-skid surface was aggregate and bonding agent choice. Exhaustive tests and years of research singled out an extremely hard aggregate which retains the sharp edges and facets produced during crushing. The combination of aggregate and bonding agents ensures, whatever the climatic and service conditions, that Saint-Gobain Pipelines’ targets – those of optimum balance of resistance to aggregate plucking and adhesion to the ductile cast iron substructure – are fully achieved.

In rig tests, GripTopTM has proved a skid resistance value (SRV) superior to 63 after 130,000 6.5 tonne loaded passages at 40mph, with similar results being achieved under snow conditions. In addition to these standard industry tests, Saint-Gobain Pipelines was also able to assess GripTopTM in a "live" situation. Working in partnership with Bristol City Council, the company installed around 70 anti-skid prototypes in the city’s Broadmead redevelopment programme.

Located on road surfaces subject to heavy traffic where bends and traffic lights encourage acceleration and deceleration, the covers were monitored over a two-year period. Mike Brewer, Senior Network Management Officer of Bristol City Council, and his team reported: "The feedback we received was very positive. The covers appear both practical and durable and there have been no instances of failure, despite heavy traffic. They lived up to their promise and have required no essential maintenance or further treatment."

GripTopTM covers are suitable for use in any location including bends and gradients where the potential for single-track vehicles to skid is increased. The aggregate finish can also be matched to the surrounding coloured road surfaces such as red bus lanes and cycle paths.


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