Given the poor weather, with heavy snow, recently, it’s not surprising that gritting has come to many people’s attention, and, as BrownhillsBob comments on his 365 tumblr, there’s some real nastiness and misinformation.
I’ve lost count of the number of people insisting every side road is gritted, and that Walsall MBC haven’t gritted main roads, and blaming the council for their own shortcomings as drivers.
Let’s get some things straight:
* Walsall MBC do many things badly. They also so some things well; bin collections and gritting are things they do well most of the time.
* Despite the bullshit perpetrated by some, Walsall MBC’s gritters were out and about on Friday, Saturday, and Sunday (18-20 Jan). I saw them around Walsall Wood on several occasions, on one occasion coming by just in time to help free a truck stuck on Walsall Wood canal bridge.
* On Sunday morning, the A461 was slightly slippery, but perfectly passable for a clumsy twat like me to drive a car I drive rarely on summer tyres without hitting anything, or even coming close. I’m no driving god (by a long shot) but the usual technique of leaving a lot of room, maintaining momentum where possible, and using the controls gently seems to work.
* Generally, you have a choice to drive or not. If you’re unable to control a vehicle in slippery conditions, well… don’t. Your 4×4 won’t beat physics, either, as won’t those winter tyres I keep banging on about (but both will help, and having winter tyres on a 4×4 will shock most people). It’s your responsibility to drive safely, within reasonable margins- so if it’s snowy or icy, you should expect slippy roads, and drive to the conditions, expecting others to slide. Alternatively, you could just make up “facts”, accuse the council of “dereliction of duty”, and complain. If it’s life or death, then it’s pretty certain you’ll have had some driver training. If your usual route isn’t gritted, choose an alternative that is.
* Grit isn’t magic. It lowers the freezing point with salt, and aids grip and breaks up ice and snow with the actual gritty bits. To do this, it needs time, and crucially, some traffic to grind it in. Additionally, it can only cope with a certain amount of snow.
* Gritting resources are finite. There are only so many staff and trucks, and a lot of roads.
I’ll gladly lay into Walsall MBC online (and I’ve done so before), but this is just silly. The gritting teams are doing a good job.