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City plans salty, sandy solution to surface slips in city center

As attractive as the downtown streetscape improvements have been here in our Bull City, the crosswalks have raised their fair share of grumblings, too -- particularly from bicyclists and pedestrians, who've reported a number of slip-and-fall situations in the wintertime when the stamped concrete pavers themselves got iced over.

(And its not just the two-legged and two-wheeled commuters who've run, or make that slid, into problems. There were reportedly several vehicular accidents on the pavers, too.)

Word from the City, via Durham's always-active Bike & Ped listserv, is that this issue has made it to the desk of the venerable Ed Venable, who's planning his own Mr. Freeze assault against the freezing. Says Venable:

We have been working to make Durham as safe as possible. Two departments respond when there is ice reported. The Street Maintenance Department will mobilize to place salt and sand on icy areas and have a route that incorporates the stamped concrete downtown. General Services will also respond and will place sand and salt on the downtown sidewalks where there are pavers. Our direction is to anticipate the ice event if possible and place salt and sand. As always we will respond to any reported icy surfaces. We currently use a device to measure the temperature of road surfaces to anticipate the need for salt and sand.

According to Bike & Ped Advisory Commission member Diane Daniel, the City has no plans to add any new surface treatment to the pavers, a request that some observers had made, given that Durham's investigation of the matter found these materials to be "are industry standards widely used."



So is this really big enough of a problem to get the city to salt the side walks and sand the pavers? Are that many people really slipping? I moved from one of the most pedestrian, bike friendly cities in the country and we did use similar pavers on our cross walks. And we had many more days of freezing temps than Durham does. I never heard of this being big enough of an issue to bring to the City's attention. I'm all for safety but I'm also all for common sense. If it's been near 32 degrees then know that parts of the road & side walks will freeze. My elementary age children even know this.

And salting sidewalks and roads are not good for streams, rivers, and fish. In some states it's illegal. Thank goodness it's doesn't freeze that often. Hopefully, the environmental impact will be minimal.

Tar Heelz

Are the personal injury lawyers drooling at the idea that the City installed new and improved pedestrian sidewalks and crosswalks that just happen to be treacherous for pedestrians?

What do the tort lawyers think? Attractive nuisance? Man-trap?

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