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Winter travel advice

Pedestrians and cyclists

The majority of footways are not routinely salted. In times of prolonged icy weather, or when snow remains on the ground, the treatment of major footways, i.e. main shopping areas, is undertaken, but this still leaves many footways in residential areas untreated. In addition, treating footways is only carried out if there is enough resource – materials and man power.

  • Consider whether your journey is essential
  • Always wear appropriate footwear
  • Delay your journey if possible to allow temperatures to rise and ice or snow to melt
  • Avoid footways in the shade. It takes longer for ice or snow to melt on these

Cycleways will normally be treated in the same way as footways. It is therefore important for cyclists to take extra care when using cycleways and consider whether a different mode of transport may be more suitable.

Don’t forget shaded cycleways are likely to remain icy longer than those in the sun.

In prolonged periods of icy weather or when snow remains on the ground, cycleways will be treated in a priority order depending on their use and accessibility.

Clearing snow and ice yourself

The Department for Transport has published guidance about clearing snow outside your property, pathways to your property or public spaces. The guidance said there is no law stopping you from doing this. If an accident did happen, it's highly unlikely that you would be sued as long as you: 

  • are careful 
  • use common sense

to make sure that you don't make the pavement or pathway clearly more dangerous than before.

People using areas affected by snow and ice also have responsibility to be careful themselves. If you are going to remove snow and ice, here are some tips:

  • start as early as possible - it's much easier to clear fresh, loose snow compared to compacted ice that has been compressed by people walking on it
  • don’t use hot water - this will melt the snow, but may replace it with black ice, increasing the risk of injury
  • be a good neighbour - some people may be unable to clear snow and ice on paths from their property
  • if shovelling snow, think where you are going to put it so that it doesn’t block people’s paths or drainage channels
  • make a pathway down the middle of the area to be cleared first, so you have a clear surface to walk on
  • spreading some salt on the area you have cleared will help stop ice forming - table salt or dishwasher salt will work, but avoid spreading on plants or grass as they may be damaged by it
  • pay particular care and attention to steps and steep gradients
  • use the sun to your advantage - removing the top layer of snow will allow the sun to melt any ice beneath; however you will need to cover any ice with salt to stop it refreezing overnight
  • if there's no salt available, sand or ash are good alternatives

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