Black Ice – Beware!

Story by Graham Jones


This winter has seen a new danger on our streets: black ice which has caused many broken bones and other injuries to residents in many parts of Sheffield including Burngreave.  There is a particular problem where recent resurfacing work to pavements has been carried out.

In reply to my enquiries Streets Ahead  are carrying out an in-depth investigation the results of which are not ready at the time of going to press.

It is often impossible to tell whether the black layer on the ground is water or ice. In many places pedestrians have had to walk on the vehicle carriageways to avoid this lethal trap, putting themselves at risk of being run over. There are also  people, especially among the elderly, who will wisely not venture out on these surfaces at all.

Here are some useful tips to ensure your safety when there is black ice underfoot:

  • Wear shoes/ boots with a robust tread.
  • Wear thick gloves to protect your hands.
  • Put salt down on the pavement outside your house.
  • Scratch the surface of the ice with a spade to make it visible and provide greater traction when walking on it.
  • Take small steps when walking in icy conditions.
  • Pedestrians, stay well back from the kerb and be aware when crossing the road that vehicles may take longer to stop in icy conditions.
  • Don’t walk with your hands in your pockets.
  • Wear padded clothing to minimise risk of fractures.
  • Be sure any elderly neighbours have essentials in the house.

The final tip is, if you do have an accident on an icy pavement  with an injury that might justify opening a legal case, use a reputable and trusted solicitor.



Streets Ahead have now replied to Graham’s enquiry, with the following:

We have responsibility for maintaining paths and it is the case that newly laid paths do have a smoother finish than the old worn ones.  Prior to resurfacing by Streets Ahead, the surfaces of many paths across the city had deteriorated.

Although a rough surface can sometimes be advantageous during periods of snow and ice, we have to maintain paths in order to ensure that, at any point in the year, they do not provide a trip hazard and they are compliant with national standards.  The newly laid surfaces are designed and constructed in line with the National Standards.

We have inspected the site and the footway surfaces are in a reasonable condition.

There are 2,000 grit bins placed around Sheffield for the public to use in their local areas.  Please let us know by calling 0114 273 4567 when grit bins are empty and they will be refilled.

We urge people to take care if they are travelling in wintry conditions and if driving, to drive appropriately for the conditions and allow extra time for journeys.  During wintry conditions, further information and guidance is available on our website:

We hope this information is helpful to you, however, if you have any further queries please do not hesitate to contact Customer Services at, via the website or by telephone on (0114) 273 4567.

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