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Posted on Thu, Aug 26, 2010 : 6:03 a.m.

Washtenaw County bicyclists deal with sealcoating of popular routes

By Heather Lockwood


A car passes pile of gravel along Ann Arbor Road just past Joy Road. Sealcoating is being used and includes an adhesive and a thick layer of loose gravel laid down on roads instead of paving.

Melanie Maxwell |

Ann Arbor area drivers and bicyclists may have noticed a layer of fine, gravel-like material on some local roads and signs urging traffic to slow down due to "loose stones." 

Washtenaw County Road Commission officials say they've been doing preventive maintenance, using a process called sealcoating to maintain the quality of the roads.

But not everyone is thrilled by the work.

Don Broadway, chair of the Ann Arbor Bicycle Touring Society, says sealcoating is a problem for cyclists.

"It renders the road unrideable for cyclists for a period of time until it's compacted, and even after it's compacted, it's a lousy road to ride," he said.

Broadway said sealcoat was recently placed on portions of two routes that have been a favorite of many area cyclists — Whitmore Lake Road and Plymouth-Ann Arbor Road.

"Both of these roads they've chip sealed were perfectly fine roads, they had no cracks, no pot holes," he said. "A lot of the club members are really upset. It forces us to take an alternative route."


Chip seal is shown along Ann Arbor Road.

Melanie Maxwell |

According to the Washtenaw County Road Commission, sealcoating is a preventative surface treatment. It does not correct existing irregularities, which is why it's used on roads that are in relatively good condition — to keep them that way.

The process consists of three steps: first, a liquid asphalt emulsion is applied to the road to fill in fine cracks and act as an adhesive; second, a layer of "finely grated slag material" is laid down; and finally, the road is re-striped, said Steven Puuri, managing director for the Washtenaw County Road Commission. As vehicles travel over the sealcoat, the loose material is compacted and becomes smoother over time.

Puuri said the road commission plans to place 59 miles of sealcoat this year.

"(Sealcoating) is widely used across many states ... and we have been using it for years," he said.

Puuri said the issue may have attracted more attention this year because the process has been applied to roads in the "urban area" where cycling is prevalent - more so than in years past.

Tom Sleeker, publicist and city chairman for the Ann Arbor Bicycle Touring Society, biked Whitmore Lake Road recently and said it is better than before, but still not perfect.

"It packs down in the center of the road first where all the traffic is, and all the gravel shifts to the sides," Sleeker said. "So you've got all this loose gravel, which is right where you (as a cyclist) want to be."

Puuri said that although the process doesn't offer instant gratification, it is cost effective.

According to the road commission, the cost to sealcoat one mile of a two-lane road is $17,000, and it's expected to last five to seven years. That compares to $98,000 to pave one mile of a two-lane road with bituminous asphalt, which has a life expectancy of about eight to 10 years.

Sleeker argues the benefits of the process aren't worth the costs.

"I'm sure that it's less expensive to do, but it's really unsafe for cyclists and I'm sure it's unsafe for motorists," he said. "I would prefer that they not chip seal. I'm not an engineer, I'm not an expert ... but from a cyclist's point of view, chip seal is not a good option."

Puuri asked motorists and cyclists to be patient.

"If the public, and in particular the bikers, could be patient with this work in progress, the road does tighten up," Puuri said. "(This process is meant) to save money and yet preserve the pavement."

Heather Lockwood is a reporter for, reach her at, or follow her on Twitter.


John Q

Sun, Aug 29, 2010 : 2:07 p.m.

I propose what I think is a fair compromise. Bike riders who ride in the streets have to pay their share of the cost to maintain the roads based on the wear-and-tear that their bikes cause. Car owners have to do the same, not some arbitrary gas tax based that's subject to the political manipulations of state and federal lawmakers. Everyone pays their share based on the actual cost to maintain the roads. Sound fair?


Sun, Aug 29, 2010 : 7:53 a.m.

@Ed Murrow- It only makes the road cheaper to repair more often, and in that way, makes it last longer. The material is really cheap, so chip-seal only lasts 5-7 years, while asphalt lasts 8-10. But since the cost per mile of chip-seal is lower, they can 'treat' the road much more often, and it saves money in the long run. I get that. I was speaking to the comments that we need to make sacrifices to repair roads because we are in a recession, or that something needs to be done, so we should just stop whining. The point is that in reality, nothing needed to be done to these roads for a while- probably 4 more years, given the condition they were in (perfect). Preventative maintenance in these instances just sounds lame, when we can agree that there are a large number of roads that need real help. Instead of spending the money to repair roads that truly needed it, the road commission 'preventatively maintained' roads that needed no help. I am not saying that I don't understand the logic of chip-seal, and there are roads that I am happy they chip-sealed (Hadley, for one). I am saying that on multiple levels, I very strongly disagree with the decisions that were made, and the logic that is applied to justify the decisions. These roads are now in worse condition (for cars and bikes) and have been made unsafe for cyclists.


Sun, Aug 29, 2010 : 7:06 a.m.

Bikes are allowed on the road. We pay just as much tax as you do, and besides, these chip-sealed roads were payed for with federal stimulus money as part of 'Make America Work'. Additionally, all of the roads that were chip-sealed were in PERFECT condition beforehand. This is not a matter of dealing with an inconvenience because we are in a recession- these roads didn't need repair. The fact of the matter is that the road commission CHOSE to chip-seal these roads with the money they got from the government, and did so without considering the impact it would have on ALL users of the road. I tried using Dexter-Ann Arbor road this weekend and it was horrendous. There are piles of gravel built up where the shoulder used to be. There is basically 4 feet of wasted road where cyclists could ride and be out of the way, but instead, it's where the gravel that the RC supposedly 'swept' resides. It is really frustrating that while other cities are doing everything they can to improve infrastructure and add bike lanes, Ann Arbor/Washtenaw county just systematically went through and destroyed almost 40 miles of safe, rideable roads. Again- Why? When driver's are already so hostile, and are even cowardly enough to flee the scene when they hit someone- why make it that much more unsafe to ride a bike by destroying the shoulder?


Sun, Aug 29, 2010 : 6:17 a.m.

When bicyclists start paying road taxes, then they can complain. Newsflash -- virtually all bicyclists (who aren't also UM undergrads) are car-owners as well. In fact, I'd be willing to bet the demographics of the Ann Arbor Bicycle Touring Society are such that they pay more taxes than the folks here telling bikers to 'git off the roads'. The chip-seal stuff is nasty -- especially on bikes but also when driving. But you may have noticed we have a pretty severe recession going on, and saving money is critical, so we're going to have to live with some inconveniences. It would be nice if we could redirect some of our new city hall art fund to having decent roads, but Ann Arbor's priorities being what they are...that doesn't seem likely, does it? Personally, I used to ride a road bike a lot, but now I rarely get it out. Instead, I have a hybrid and I do a lot of dirt roads (which -- sadly enough -- are smoother than most of the paved roads).


Sat, Aug 28, 2010 : 11:56 p.m.

When bicyclists start paying road taxes, then they can complain. They are a nuisance on the road, especially on campus and on hilly/curvy roads. Start charging a fee for bikes to ride on public roads. Use that money to build bike lanes.


Fri, Aug 27, 2010 : 5:32 p.m.

DagnyJ You called it what a bunch of whiners. OK I see the point of the bikers, don't have a lot of sympathy but can't argue too much with the problem of gravel and bikes or cycles. But for all those that complain about their cars. The same ones were probably complaining about the rough roads last week. And the same ones that would be crying if the county asked for more money to asphalt the roads. Then they would be complaining because they had to slow down in a construction zone while the paving was done. Most of you would have fit right in on a Sat Night Live skit! @notinypsi "I truly miss driving my scenic route to and from work but just can't bring myself to ruin my vehicle. It's a shame, especially with the fall colors right around the corner" Relax and take a deep breath! The stones on your favorite road will be gone long before your color tour!


Fri, Aug 27, 2010 : 3:41 p.m.

I drive a car, and I hate this method. When they do it, I stop using the road. Fortunately, I've had alternatives. Heck, I even take a short stretch of dirt road rather than driving on the "LOOSE STONES". I'm sure it's even worse for cyclists. I would have thought this was one thing drivers and cyclists could agree on: seal-coating sucks.

scooter dog

Fri, Aug 27, 2010 : 3:32 p.m.

The county road commission could care less about what drivers think,thats why they won't return your e-mail or phone calls If your looking to sell them a new pick-up truck(they own 35 +) or new large dump truck or road grader they will probably get back to you in a timely manner Chip sealing is nothing more than a Band Aid repair to prolong the inevitable,which is re-paving with asphalt,its tons cheaper and makes a good road once packed down. If all you drivers are so upset about a little un-packed gravel on the side of the road,what are you going to do in the next few winters when the county only plows the road when it snows more than 4" and stops using road salt,its comming,it ought to be a real zoo driving to work


Fri, Aug 27, 2010 : 1:08 p.m.

I despise driving on the roads that have been seal coated. I'm scared to death that I'm going to get a crack in my windshield and of the damage that is being done to the undercarriage of my vehicle. I truly miss driving my scenic route to and from work but just can't bring myself to ruin my vehicle. It's a shame, especially with the fall colors right around the corner, sigh. :-( Thanks a lot for taking away my joy WCRC!!!!


Fri, Aug 27, 2010 : 11:54 a.m.

I don't bicycle or motorcycle or "scoot", but I do drive and I HATE what sealcoating does to my paint and windshield. Doesn't matter if I'm going nice and slow, those rocks still get kicked up. I avoid these roads. If more drivers did as well, the gravel wouldnt get compacted and the road commission would have to look for alternate, SAFER road maintenance practices.

John Q

Fri, Aug 27, 2010 : 10:24 a.m.

"Cycling is a way of getting around that doesn't use Saudi oil, doesn't create pollution, and helps people stay in shape. Isn't that worth something?" Yes it is worth something. But the self-centered road ragers who think the roads were designed for them and no one else won't ever be convinced by the facts.


Fri, Aug 27, 2010 : 10:10 a.m.

Its dismaying to me that the Ann Arbor area is so hostile to bicyclists given that its probably home to more regular bicycle commuters and people who uses bicycles in lieu of cars than any other city in Michigan. I've lived in SE, West, and northern Michigan, and find Ann Arbor has spent more time and money to accommodate for bicycle travel, and yet my experience living here for the best 4 years is there is a lot impediments to cycling here. On the majority of my rides in the city and to the south I am screamed at, honked at, and witness a complete lack of understanding by drivers of cars about how to drive on roads with bicyclists near by. I know that bicyclists often times act in a way that shows a complete lack of understanding about how they are required to use the road,...........but thats not my situation. I ride following the aw, I ride curtiously and defensively, I provide clear indication to drivers of cars where I'm going and I am very predictable on the road. Yet, the majority! of my bicycle trips, I have drivers of cars cutting me off, getting very angery at me, passing me when in a no passing zone and when its very dangerous to do so, or passing entirely too close to me within the lane, and very often times drivers of cars are completely confused as to how to drive with respect to a bicyclists near their car. So one conclusion I've come to after decades of biking Michigan's roads is there can be no great increase in the use of bicycles for everyday transportation needs in Ann Arbor and elsewhere without better knowledge, encouragement, and enforcement of how bicycles fit into Michigan's transporatation system. Steven Puuri's comments in the article show a lack of understanding for how bicyclists safely use the road. The chip sealing of roads creates a pile of loose gravel on the right side of the road which is the portion of the road on which bicyclists ride. We can choose to use chip sealing to save money on our roads but it will also be a choice to further discourage the wider use of bicycles as a serious mode of transportation. A choice we can ill afford in word that has many problems which are connected to automobile transportation.

Waheed Samy

Fri, Aug 27, 2010 : 7:02 a.m.

It may be helpful to bring into focus front and center that gravel causes two wheeled vehicles to lose traction, and crash (on gravel!). If cars have to slow down because cyclists have to avoid the shoulder, what is the solution? Has anyone read about the hit and run near Dexter that seriously injured a cyclist?


Fri, Aug 27, 2010 : 7:02 a.m.

Nixon Road was sealcoated a couple of years ago and now it's great for bikes and cars. Yeah, it was nasty for the first few months. But now it's fine and in great shape. You guys are whiners. This will pass.


Thu, Aug 26, 2010 : 10:57 p.m.

Let me just propose that: -There are cyclists AND motorists that don't follow traffic laws. I wish everyone would. We don't propose outlawing cars because of a few inconsiderate drivers, why the hate towards all cyclist because a few of them are bad citizens? -I'm pretty sure the Ann Arbor Bike Touring folks aren't really that concerned about the chip and seal on these two roads as they are the Washtenaw County Road Commissions general lack of concern for anything but cars. If there were alternative roads for these bikers, you probably wouldn't hear anything about this story. -Users are not always charged directly for amenities that are considered for the public good. School children do not have to pay to go to public school, pedestrians do not pay tolls to use sidewalks. Cycling is a way of getting around that doesn't use Saudi oil, doesn't create pollution, and helps people stay in shape. Isn't that worth something?


Thu, Aug 26, 2010 : 9:49 p.m.

Hey Don, the roads were built for automobiles, not bicycles. Get over it. If you're not happy with then go build your bike roads...


Thu, Aug 26, 2010 : 9:27 p.m.

Dear Readers, This is a healthy debate and should continue. Was the BP oil spill a "wake up call" to anybody? Bicycles offer a zero pollution and low cost method to travel or exercise. Think about this debate in the context of gas at 5 - 6 dollars per gallon. We need to think beyond automobiles somehow. PS: I'm a motorist/cyclist, I follow the rules, use hand signals and try as best as I can to stay out of motorists way. Nobody is perfect out there, motorist and cyclist alike. Share the road please. Can we?


Thu, Aug 26, 2010 : 8:27 p.m.

I travel Dexter-Ann Arbor road daily. The stretch from Zeeb into Dexter as well as the nearby section of Zeeb have also recently received this treatment. Motorists blasted through the area on the loose gravel, churning up great clouds of rock dust, which can't be good for anyone's health, least of all those who live near the road and get to inhale it for weeks while the gravel is kicked off the roads. I feel for the many bicyclists who frequent this route, for which there really aren't any reasonable alternatives. The loose gravel, speeding drivers, and choking clouds of dust have all made it an extremely hazardous route. The great piles of loose gravel at the margins of the road have no particular prospect of ever getting set in the tar. Will the road commission be sending anyone out to collect it? Or will they send rollers to flatten it into the asphalt? If the latter, why don't they use rollers in the first place, to set the gravel, get far more of it in place on the road where it can be of use, and reduce the hazards to all? Compounding the hazards for bicyclists on this route is the fact that the stretch of Dexter-Ann Arbor road from Wagner to Zeeb, recently repaved, never received the white edge stripe that bicyclists depend on to remind motorists of their presence on the road. It really makes you wonder whether anyone is considering the full impact of their actions when they plan these things.


Thu, Aug 26, 2010 : 7:25 p.m.

Others have commented on the dangers that sealcoating creates for bicyclists and motorcyclists, especially for a number of weeks after the work is done. I'll guess that, for motorcycles, the period of greatest danger is comparatively shorter due to riding in the middle of the lane rather than on the far right, but the thought of experiencing your rear wheel start to go out from under you while moving at or near posted speeds is quite frightening. And, yes, it's stupid to do this on the few paved roads near town which have been reasonably safe over the years for bicyclists. Don't use sealcoating on those few, at least. I suspect the Road Commission, besides probably saving some money, isn't too terribly bothered by having chosen a 'remedy' that, as a side effect, happens to discourage two-wheeled vehicles on area roads. For the Commission, the bigger vehicle is always the better vehicle. Between the road authorities and various commenters who hold anything in contempt that moves along the streets with less than four wheels, I feel enough frustration to start wishing again for gasoline to skyrocket to $10-15 per gallon. Maybe, just maybe, at that point we'll start to see a transition to a far more rational, multi-modal transportation system, similar in principle to what an earlier poster described for the region around Marburg, Germany.


Thu, Aug 26, 2010 : 6:03 p.m.

We'll I've changed my mind!! Having read the story earlier about this chip-sealcoating I thought it was a good idea. Just drove Zeeb Rd. between I94 and Miller. What a mess!!!Stones hitting the windshield...banging off the sides of the car and underneath as well. It looked like the work had been done a couple of days ago and still the shoulders had piles of gravel. I've seen this done in other States but they do a much better job than our great WCRC. I'm sympathetic to the bikers plight but I also care about my car!!Everyone who drives over a recently chip-sealcoated WILL have damage.


Thu, Aug 26, 2010 : 5:52 p.m.

I used to have a mountain bike, when they first became popular, and it was a lot of fun, for awhile. Well suited to A2's rugged streets (tho they were a dream back then, compared with now!), and fun to blast around places like the Arb on. However, I never felt safe or comfortable riding on busy streets or heavily travelled county roads - if you are riding on roads like Scio Church or Huron River Drive, or Huron Street, you are either incredibly optimistic, or incredibly foolish, or both. Because the law says you have a right to be there, doesn't mean it's a good idea. I liked the dedicated bike/walk paths along the Huron River - all the way from Barton Pond to Dixboro Rd, back then, probably more now. Anyway, the U banned mountain bikes from the Arb, and the city banned them from a few places, and it got to be you had to drive 20 miles just to ride the damned thing safely, and buy a lock that weighed more than the bike to keep it from getting stolen, so I sold it and just walked instead. Biking just isn't a practical form of transportation in a modern urban environment, unless you're a daredevil.


Thu, Aug 26, 2010 : 5:28 p.m.

I would like to see the data that shows the roads last longer with seal coat. I would also like to see a study that looks at gas mileage and car repairs on asphalt vs seal coat. The seal coat roads are rough for bicycling and driving. I know that when I reach a road with true asphalt in a car or bike, it is a pleasant experience. When I was in Europe, the EU roads were meticulous and well built and good for both bicycles and cars. Pot holes repairs were level with the road surface instead of tossing some asphalt on top of the road and waiting for cars to smash it into the road.(and ending up with tar on your car) I have also observed chip seal done in other areas of the country (including Indiana and Pennsylvania)and done much better than in Michigan. The equpment put down the first layer, chips were put down, and a machine pressed down the chips. Then the extra chips were swept away instead of waiting for the cars to press it down or causing an unsafe road surface for cars or bikes. The seal coat in Michigan is terrible - it is uneven and leaves gaps and holes making it unsafe for bikes and even for cars. There was a recent article on the AABTS and how they raised over $40,000 in donations to help repair Huron River Drive. I sent in my donation for this worthy cause, how about you.

Mike Nowak

Thu, Aug 26, 2010 : 5:13 p.m.

Sealcoating definitely sucks when you are on a motorcycle.

David Galbraith

Thu, Aug 26, 2010 : 4:41 p.m.

An interesting test of this gravel sealcoating was (unintentionally) conducted just south of Washtenaw County on Ridge Road. A state resurfacing project resurfaced Ridge from Ridgeway north to the Washtenaw line sometime in the mid 90's. Most of this fell within Lenawee County, but the northermost mile (or less) crosses the far northwest corner of Monroe County. Both parts were paved as part of the same project. Some time back, I believe five or more years ago, Lenawee did the gravel sealcoating on its portion, while Monroe didn't get around to doing so until this summer. Thus we had identically paved sections, one sealcoated and the other not. I suppose there were a few more cracks showing by this year in the Monroe section than the Lenawee, but the difference was very slight. Washtenaw spends a million dollars a year messing up our roads for this miniscule eventual difference? Wouldn't this money fix some of those closed bridges we hear about? As a motorist as well as a bicyclist I hate the graveled roads. Eventually, after a few years of use and snowplowing (Hope for lots of snow this winter!) the gravel does get worn down, though it is never again as smooth as the original asphalt. In other Michigan counties, I have seen the paved shoulder, at least, preserved from this graveling by the simple expedient of not tarring the shoulder, so the gravel doesn't stick there. I assume it is covered originally for a while, but eventually disappears from the pavement, leaving a blissfuly smooth shoulder to bike on. Does anyone know how much extra gasoline motorists are forced to expend to drive on these graveled roads. It may be a small fraction, but the total for thousands of cars on 59 miles each year must be pretty impressive!


Thu, Aug 26, 2010 : 4:27 p.m.

I thought this stuff was a coating pending re-surfacing that has been going on a lot. What I do not like about it is that many of the road marking, like a double yellow to indicate no passing, has not been replaced on the road. Seems dangerous to me. Where I live already too many speed happy drivers are passing when they should not be if the lines disappear, then the traffic control does too.

Jay Allen

Thu, Aug 26, 2010 : 4:11 p.m.

Macabre Sunset is dead on. His hunting analogy is great. Yes alaina, there are laws that ALLOW bicycles on the road. No one said there wasn't now did they? But you inferred that tax dollars from bicycles fund the roads. There isn't insurance, registration, plates, gasoline and other associated taxes on motor vehicles that pertain to bikes. Mi DOT is in a lose-lose situation. They do preventive work and folks complain. They don't have funds and do nothing, folks complain. The crying and whining really gets old. Another person in this thread said it best and right now I do not have the time nor gumption to go and find it. We have a TREMENDOUS pathway system here in AA. Parker Mill to Gallup to Mitchell to Fuller to Riverside to Argo and back is 15 miles round trip. You can east out of Gallup onto HRD and head to St. Joe around St. Joe by the stadium and along the path into EMU. This adds 10 miles and now you are 25 miles round trip. Bathrooms, water fountains, no cars, no stones and essentially no complaining. There are other pathways as well, we have a new one that is 2.25 miles from Textile to Ellsworth along Platt Road.

Gordon Taylor

Thu, Aug 26, 2010 : 3:55 p.m.

Minor inconvience? Friday will be the 4-week anniversary of getting off 94 on a motorcycle at Fletcher rd, hitting loose stones at Fletcher and Jackson with no warning signs what so ever. We were traveling less than 5 miles an hour. I still have no meat on my right knee. My wife has had surgery on her broken leg and will not walk for a least another month. And on top of all that Im doing battle with the insurance company now that says I have no coverage because we did not hit or get hit by another vehicle. The seal coating in my book is dangerous at the very least and if the county is going to use it as a temporary fix to extend the life of the roads they should be prepared to pick up the tab for any injuries or damaged caused by the seal coating. Need a good attorney, G


Thu, Aug 26, 2010 : 3:23 p.m.

Why dont the bikers and bike clubs get into their cars and drive down the road on the edge. This will pack down the chips and or move the rock chips to the dirt. So now repet after me, bikers drive your car where you would ride your bike and clean it up yourself.


Thu, Aug 26, 2010 : 3:22 p.m.

I find it curious that the Washtenaw County Road Commission completely ignored the carpet-bombed portion of Plymouth Road, between Ford Rd. [153] and Dixboro Road. You pretty much need a monster truck to navigate that stretch without getting bucked over the dozens of frost heave speed bumps and crumbled shoulder pot-holes....It's a major mess. I emailed the Washtenaw County Road Commission, to ask them about the weird tar seeps coming up and spreading over the entire road surface, due to the heavy hauler trucks that use the prospect rd. to curtis rd. stretch of Plymouth Road. I just hope I don't get caught in a T-storm while riding my motorcycle thru that oil and tar coated section.


Thu, Aug 26, 2010 : 3:15 p.m.

This sealcoating process is horrible. They did it to Baker Rd where I work, and it's nearly caused several accidents. Cars entering Baker hit the loose gravel and spin their tires, making them sitting ducks for oncoming traffic. In addition, the first couple of days after it was put down, you get tons of paint chips on the lower third of your car, and your hood from the cars in front of you throwing up rocks. Not to even mention the tar everywhere. The road commission did nothing to pack the stones, they just let the cars do it. They also never returned to "sweep" it as they claim on their website. There are huge mounds of rocks in the middle of the road and at the edges, and still no lines have been painted. The whole process is a debacle.

Macabre Sunset

Thu, Aug 26, 2010 : 3:06 p.m.

The coating is designed for roads that are still in excellent condition. It does very little for roads that are not in good condition. The idea is that it's far cheaper to prolong the excellent condition with this type of maintenance than to let it deteriorate, then have to make more major repairs several years from now. That savings is necessary to save some of those roads in serious condition. Or prevent us from abandoning bridges that are no longer safe.


Thu, Aug 26, 2010 : 2:54 p.m.

@ Emily Pelak Gas taxes are levied at the state and federal level, there are no county taxes on gas. You pay more in Ann Arbor, because people will pay more in Ann Arbor. The price difference has nothing to do with gas taxes, sorry to disappoint you.


Thu, Aug 26, 2010 : 2:51 p.m.

@ Nick the trucks pay 10,000 x more in gas taxes

Macabre Sunset

Thu, Aug 26, 2010 : 2:47 p.m.

At one point people basically hunted in their back yards. But population grew, and that was no longer possible because we have less space. We have roads. They are getting more crowded, and our money to repair them, in particular, is growing more scarce. We have to cut costs, and if that means rendering the roads less than ideal for biking, well, that's just necessary. Bikers who want a perfect riding experience should take a lesson from the hunters and take their biking trips up north, where there's more room. The rest of us should not have to endure broken roads because important cost-saving maintenance techniques cannot be used solely due to biker complaints.


Thu, Aug 26, 2010 : 2:26 p.m.

@aabikers - The email is valid; nobody will answer you. I emailed them 3 months ago when they "chip-sealed" Maple road in Saline. I never received a response nor an answer. If all the money from gas tax is used to repave the roads, then why are we paying so much more for gas in Ann Arbor ($2.89 last time I checked) than Warren or Troy ($2.59)?? They never have any of their roads "chip-sealed" so why should we??


Thu, Aug 26, 2010 : 2:21 p.m.

Large, heavy trucks do 10,000 X the damage to roads as autos. Maybe if they paid their fair share of "use" of the road, then county wouldn;t have to resort to these paving measures.


Thu, Aug 26, 2010 : 2:17 p.m.

It's a horrible idea and I, in fact, wrote to the road commission about it. I never heard anything back and I'm still waiting for my answer of why they took a perfectly good road and pretty much destroyed it, for not only the bikers, but the cars and people walking on it too.


Thu, Aug 26, 2010 : 1:57 p.m.

This article shows just how stubborn some bicyclists really are. Not only are they willing to risk death riding down some roads that are high traffic/high speed, they can't even take other routes until their favorite road is bike worthy after getting sealcoated.

Brent Lofgren

Thu, Aug 26, 2010 : 1:19 p.m.

Re road-like bike lanes, I used to regularly bike along Plymouth Road between the Broadway Bridge and the Green Road area. I'd usually go on the wide sidewalk, but it often got very frustrating. Where there's a side street with a stop sign, bikers have the right of way going across there on the crosswalk. But that doesn't mean much when someone is already parked across that crosswalk, possibly staring only in the opposite direction from the one in which you are coming, or you can't trust the motorist who's approaching that crosswalk at the same time you are. I would say that this scenario happened at least six times per round trip. How road-like is it to have a car parked cross-wise over the driving lane where you have the right of way at least once every mile? Not to mention the lack of legally required snow removal by some property owners along Plymouth Road. Nowadays, my occasional bike trip to work takes me along the section of Lohr Road that was recently chip-sealed. The amount of loose gravel that was on that road for a while was very dangerous; it's better now, but far from ideal. The other alternative is State Road--narrower and greater motor traffic. As for comments to the effect that everyone must always drive a car, this has already become a self-perpetuating scenario that needs to be reversed to reduce the amount of money (=time) spent on paying for fuel and roads, and to make our cities and planet more livable.


Thu, Aug 26, 2010 : 1:01 p.m.

AAFlint, the problem with those paths is that they were based on a "study" from the 60s that didn't include crash data. Cyclists in Ann Arbor have been trying to get rid of them since the 80s. The problem is that they are legally and functionally sidewalks. And the crash data shows that sidewalks are more dangerous than roads for cyclists. So if the sidepaths are "for" cyclists, then they are like colored-only drinking fountains - more for the benefit of someone else than the people they are "for". Any surprise experienced cyclists don't want to use them? BTW, the most recent Ann Arbor Non-Motorized plan ( calls for more bike lanes, and continues the recommendations from the prior Bicycle Plan that we move away from sidepaths because they're more dangerous. On chip and seal roads, cyclists should do what the law says and use the right tire track. It's usually only a few days that there's loose gravel there. The problem is when motorists want cyclists to go far beyond what the law says the cyclist should do. The road commission uses the cheaper method of repaving, and instead of getting upset with the road commission, motorists blame the problem on cyclists who had nothing to do with the decision.


Thu, Aug 26, 2010 : 12:54 p.m.

I love my bike, and love to ride. Yesterday a friend of mine was hit riding home from great lakes bike shop on dexter/pinckney he is now at u of m in pretty bad shape. We just wanna be safe is all, please share the road. I mean is it really that hard to move to left a lil more when u pass? When i drive i do and it takes no effort. I don't understand why people think it is such a big deal i drive and know what it is to "deal" with a cyclist from a motor vehicle's point of view. Its no big deal so all you guys complaining about bikes grow up please! You could kill some one and nobody wants that


Thu, Aug 26, 2010 : 12:36 p.m.

This is not the first time that Plymouth-Ann Arbor Road has had this process done, it is the second in the last 5 years. Prior to the first 1 the road was in poor shape, and the work to get ready for seal coating was extensive. It provided the road you all indicate was "perfect". I live on the P-AA Road and drive it daily. I can live with a few weeks of loose gravel for 3 to 5 years of smooth road. I like the fact that the traffic has slowed down over the last few weeks since it was done. I no longer have to worry about large trucks closing on my back bumper when I am at the speed limit. From that standpoint, I wish they would repeat it every 6 weeks. Having grown up in a community that did what we called "tar and stone" for roads, I can tell you that they have a tendency to last longer than blacktop - since they are lots of layers built up over time. While it acts like a single mass, my engineering professor in college took a sample in class and showed how the different layers actually reacted to weather differently, where a single layer of asphalt acted as a single block. I am in favor of keeping good roads in good shape and using the savings to bring other roads up to good shape. I would like to thank the County for this work.


Thu, Aug 26, 2010 : 12:30 p.m.

There is nearly a mile of trail that comes in on Plymouth Rd. and connects to well over 6 miles of trails on Huron/Platt (not counting both sides). Did you see the price per mile to pave in the article? That was the cost for these types of trails that you bemoan as useless. Also, this does not count the mountain bike trails, or is only road racing a sport? As far as maintenance? Are you kidding? These things are plowed and groomed before streets are in the winter time. You see, this is part of the problem - the city spends a ton of money building special paved roads for bikers then bikers turn their nose up at them in order to keep biking a crusade. A crusade that says no, we want more but we won't use what we already have because it's not good enough - and a crusade that (usually) states we have the same right of way as cars only we're above the law. These sorts of hypocrisies leave a bad taste in my mouth. Its this sort of entitlement that makes no sense to me to think peddlers would prefer we dont maintain our roads because it causes them inconvenience for a few weeks is utterly ridiculous. I ride a motorcycle to work, if I see gravel I slow down and find an alternative route, and Im glad that roads are being maintained so I dont lose a tire in a pothole someday


Thu, Aug 26, 2010 : 12:21 p.m.

My apologies to the other motorcyclists that commented as I did a quick scan and only notice one, but several others are present. Again, maybe could ask WCRC why they eliminate a step in the process verses LCRC. I assume cost, but there appear to be other benefits to seal-coat, pea-stone and seal-coat.


Thu, Aug 26, 2010 : 12:17 p.m.

I just don't understand the hubbub here. This sealcoating process works well and is very cost effective. If you stay at the posted 35 mph the damage to your vehicle from a little bit of tar and the tiny pebbles will be minimal or non existant. I have not ridden my bicycle on any paved roads with posted speeds above 25 mph( in years) because it is simply too dangerous. I've had three friends killed on bicycles ( hit by cars) over the past 20 years. Simply not worth the risk anymore in my opinion.


Thu, Aug 26, 2010 : 12:12 p.m.

Adding to the one other commenter, try traversing this stuff on Motorcycle. Not fun and far greater potential for injury at 35 or 45 mph, than say 15 mph. I would like to point out that Livingston County appears to have taken the same process on step further (for the better) as they seal-coat, lay pea-stone and then seal-coat again. Thereby, providing a much more stable surface sooner and somewhat difficult to distinguish from traditional asphalt surface.

PR of AA

Thu, Aug 26, 2010 : 11:45 a.m.

The roads for the automobiles before the "roads" for the bicycles. I would have a lot more sympathy for the bikers if they would actually follow traffic laws, like they all say they do. I got into a verbal confrontation with a biker about 2 years ago because I was turning right on red(legally) and he was coming up next to me to ride through the light. He got all mad saying people don't respect bikers......blah, blah, blah.


Thu, Aug 26, 2010 : 11:44 a.m.

The comments from bicyclists regarding whatever taxes they may be paying are not valid. Roads are built for efficient travel by motorized vehicles. This is why they are funded by fuel taxes. When bicyclists are on the road with cars/trucks, they make travel less efficient and don't pay for the privilege, to boot. Bicycles do not move as fast as machines with motors and that makes travel more difficult. If I were to use the "I pay tax" argument, then I should have a special lane built on the road for walking or pogo sticking or whatever means of locomotion I desire. You want a bike lane? Pay for it with a bike tax. It does me not too much good to have others saving fuel money by using their legs. The car=bike law is ridiculous and should be repealed.


Thu, Aug 26, 2010 : 11:40 a.m.

"Oh, and how come if I have to wear a seatbelt in my car when driving, those on a motorcyle do not? I think seatbelts should be an option for motorists, just like they are for motorcyclists." OH where to begin? 1) Seatbelts are designed to keep you anchored and centered within the protective frame of your vehicle. Therefore CHAINING a biker to his ride just might not be such a good idea would it? 2) Motorcycles wisely are not equipped with seatbelts, nor should they be. Therefore it's not an option. As for those of you who state roads are only for cars and cite taxation as an excuse, how selfish and narrow minded. Might as well run all the joggers off the road too while you're at it. The sales taxes on their sneakers certainly don't go towards the roads. And don't let the fact that these bikers are likely more healthy than the general population (needing less medical services and draining society that way) and/or are transporting themselves in a far "greener" manner than you (thereby having less carbon footprint and leaving a cleaner environment including the air you breathe) factor into it at all.


Thu, Aug 26, 2010 : 11:33 a.m.

Cyclists pay for road works through everyday taxes. Gasoline tax indeed goes to fixing roads, but the vehicles that require gas are also the ones that do the most damage to the roads. The important thing is to encourage and not discourage people from using their bikes as a form of transportation as it is good for the environment and good for your health. As one of the most obese states in the country, ann arbor should lead the charge against this preventable disease by making it a bike friendly area. Also making a city bike and mass transit friendly makes the area more attractive to potential investors since it makes people more willing to relocate to a forward thinking city.


Thu, Aug 26, 2010 : 11:30 a.m.

It's interesting to me that the heavy trucks that use a portion of Plymouth Road to go north onto Curtis road, are forcing the emulsion out of the road, due to the heavy loads they carry. As a motorcyclist, I am very concerned that the emulsion slick that has formed over this portion of the road will be very hazardous for me if I have to ride thru there if it's raining....ever try to ride on an oil slick? It's a value-engineered solution that the Road Commission has been forced to utilize. But, it's really an inferior technique that cannot withstand heavy truck traffic, and turns the road into an oily two track suitable for only automobiles. Looks like cyclists and motorcyclists get the short end of the stick - AGAIN!


Thu, Aug 26, 2010 : 11:30 a.m.

Thanks Alaina, for posting the text from the law. And to those who think bikes don't fund their portion of the road costs--most of us who ride bikes ALSO own and drive cars. And pay property and income taxes. And do volunteer work in our communities. And operate just like every other normal citizen. AAisthenextFlint--can you please direct me to these "miles of paved trails" to which you refer? Because I only know about short stretches that are mostly chopped up from construction and not maintained. The city apparently has the budget to put them in but not maintain them.


Thu, Aug 26, 2010 : 11:19 a.m.

The roads are crappy because all the cars are moving out of Michigan to a place that has some glimmer of hope of their owner finding a decent job.


Thu, Aug 26, 2010 : 11:14 a.m.

Oh, and how come if I have to wear a seatbelt in my car when driving, those on a motorcyle do not? I think seatbelts should be an option for motorists, just like they are for motorcyclists.

John Q

Thu, Aug 26, 2010 : 11:13 a.m.

"Clearly, cars fund the roads, not the bikes." If cars funded the roads then why are the roads so crappy? Roads existed before we had cars and Road Commissions existed before we had cars. They exist to meet the needs of everyone who uses the road, not just people who drive cars.


Thu, Aug 26, 2010 : 11:06 a.m.

Gasoline taxes are the primary funding source for roads. I'm not sure where the revenue for the registration for an autombile goes. Clearly, cars fund the roads, not the bikes. Just ride around the block. It worked for you when you were five years old, why can't it work today?


Thu, Aug 26, 2010 : 11:01 a.m.

I need to use this forum to apologize to a bicyclist I encountered Monday 8/23 (I think) at the intersection of Packard and Stadium. Having had the scare of my life in a previous experience (where I had already begun my right turn onto Stadium when the biker came zooming up from behind on my R and almost hit me - I braked and he had to stop by dragging his feet) I am now terrified that I will hit one or that one will hit me. This day I was looking in my rearviews and turning to see if one was coming up, sure enough I was startled to see another come zooming up from behind and right on through the intersection without slowing down. Another biker who had seen me slam on my brakes stopped and motioned me through my turn. I looked at him and instead of thanking him gave an exasperated glare. This is the person I am apologizing to. He is the epitome of biker good manners. If traffic is stopped at an intersection and the light changes to green, bikers, don't take that as a signal to just barrel through. Please be cautious and considerate of the drivers on your left and slow down some. We have to share the road. I don't want to hit you and you don't want to hit me.


Thu, Aug 26, 2010 : 10:39 a.m.

According to the Livingston County Road Commission Head (Mike Crane), road commission budgets are funded by gas tax only unless there is a special assessment voted on. Therefore property tax, sales tax, income tax, social security tax, license fees(tax) and brass tacks have nothing to do with road paving. I presume its the same in your country (Democratic Socialist Republic of Ann Arbor). In my long years of driving on the chip sealed roads, it has a very useful long life, weathers and wears well, and offers superior traction in wet, ice, and snow covered conditions. Perhaps not the best answer for the bikers (its a bit worse for tire wear and fuel economy, too), but the best compromise for buck on these roads. BTW: please reread your State laws regarding bikes maintaining speed on State and county roads! Fixing that situation would help us all.

Jeff S

Thu, Aug 26, 2010 : 10:36 a.m.

I nearly crashed taking a turn at 10-15mph on my motorcycle on one of these roads a couple weeks ago, thankfully I was able to correct the back tire slipping out from underneath me O.O. It was night time and I had no idea there were loose stones all over the place. Thankfully I was going pretty slow, too.. That could have been nasty.


Thu, Aug 26, 2010 : 10:33 a.m.

To brush up on Michigan law: 257.657 Rights and duties of persons riding bicycle, electric personal assistive mobility device, or moped or operating low-speed vehicle. Sec. 657. Each person riding a bicycle, electric personal assistive mobility device, or moped or operating a low-speed vehicle upon a roadway has all of the rights and is subject to all of the duties applicable to the driver of a vehicle by this chapter, except as to special regulations in this article and except as to the provisions of this chapter which by their nature do not have application....and: The law also states that cyclists must ride as far right as is practicable. The gravel in the shoulder makes riding in the shoulder not practicable because it is unsafe 257.660a Operation of bicycle upon highway or street; riding close to right-hand curb or edge of roadway; exceptions. Sec. 660a. A person operating a bicycle upon a highway or street at less than the existing speed of traffic shall ride as close as practicable to the right-hand curb or edge of the roadway except as follows: (c) When conditions make the right-hand edge of the roadway unsafe or reasonably unusable by bicycles, including, but not limited to, surface hazards, an uneven roadway surface, drain openings, debris, parked or moving vehicles or bicycles, pedestrians, animals, or other obstacles, or if the lane is too narrow to permit a vehicle to safely overtake and pass a bicycle. If you would like to read them yourself: Cyclists have a legal right to ride on the road, and almost always chose the safest routes. By effectively eliminating the shoulder on these 2 particular roads, the RC has made an unsafe environment for cars and bikes, forcing cyclists into the path of drivers, all for the benefit of saving a few thousand dollars 'in the long run'. These particular roads needed no pro-active repair- there were no potholes, no damage, no cracks, and drivers and cyclists could happily enjoy their modes of transportation without getting in each other's way. All of the drivers that hate cyclists should be just as angry because this roadwork causes us to be more in your way- something neither of us want!! And I'm not going to stop riding my bike, just like you aren't going to stop driving your car;)

Diego Amor

Thu, Aug 26, 2010 : 10:18 a.m.

Note to AA News editors: it would be nice if you actually did some work in writing these stories instead of just posting puff from the agency responsible. A few people have commented on the dangerous aspect of this project. Bicyclists and Motorcyclists are the most endangered by gravel thrown out the back of vehicles most of whom are ignoring the 35mph "recommended" speed limits. But there are occasional pedestrians who can get hurt as well. And since I am not only a bicyclist but also a motor vehicle operator, it strikes me as odd that no one has commented on the scratched, pitted and cracked windshields that are the non-infrequent byproducts of flying gravel. I suppose it will increase costs but one answer to these issues is for the road crews to return to do some clean up. Also, perhaps the speed limits should be made mandatory rather than "recommended."


Thu, Aug 26, 2010 : 10:01 a.m.

Here's another cost savings idea - perhaps we could also save money by not building any more road-like sidewalks that bikers refuse to use even when no bike lane is present... Ann Arbor has miles of these for bikers to use in lieu of their favorite road receiving preventative maintenance... This is one I really don't get - so for example, you'd rather potentially delay ambulances heading to the hospital than ride on the 6ft wide smooth paved path adjacent to Plymouth Rd? I don't understand the selfishness, Plymouth Rd. is the main artery to two hospitals - your crusade to pedal should really take place somewhere else... Ann Arbor spent hundreds of thousands of dollars to build these roadlike pathways on Huron, Plymouth, etc. yet bikers insist on peddling in the street instead of being grateful for having a safe special path, I don't get it... Don't try to tell me it's about being far away from driveways either...there are as many curb cuts on those paths as there are in the street, it doesn't add up. As far as whining because preventative maintenance is being done on roads here? Not even worth commenting on it is so ridiculous. I do like the pedal tax idea though - put your money where your foot is so you can build your own fund and whine about and pay for your own bike paths to someone who cares.


Thu, Aug 26, 2010 : 9:54 a.m.

I have to agree with "gpg". I commute on my motorcycle daily. The loose gravel is a danger for braking and turning on a scooter or motorcycle. I've also been hit in the face by flying debris from oncoming vehicles, even though I ride to the far right of the lane to avoid it. The mess that's left by this sealcoating process lasts minimally for several weeks. The pile of rocks in the middle of the road lasts until the winter plows come through. I've also noticed a higher degree of chips in the paint on my wife's car. I try to take good care of my vehicles and this process really takes a toll on your vehicle's exterior, thereby decreasing it's overall value. If this process is so good and widely accepted, why is it never used on interstate highways or major thoroughfares? Just asking.


Thu, Aug 26, 2010 : 9:40 a.m.

@Davidian-would have to agree. I park my car on Sunday's and only use my bike. Though I'm an avid cyclist cudo's to the Road Commission for taking this step. I disagree with the argument that cyclist have the same rights to use the road as automobiles. Just don't by it at all. As soon as a bike can travel with the speed of automobile traffic then they'll have the right. Until then, stay right. Way right. It's called a sidewalk.

Jay Allen

Thu, Aug 26, 2010 : 9:30 a.m.

"First of all, I am a cyclist, as well as a driver and taxpayer. Cyclists pay property tax, income tax, gas tax, licensing taxes- we live here, too, and contribute just as equally as everyone else" You are confusing topics here. Your "bike" does not require a tax be collected. You as an individual does, agree and along with your car, home, etc. There are MANY thousands of other hobbies out there as well that could interject in place of "cyclist" and with the argument you have laid out, their argument would be just as valid. I love to RUN. Matter of fact I will be running from Saline to AA Skyline tomorrow and I have chosen a route that accommodates me. Not me complaining that the shortest route is not conducive to me because of the road and complaining about tax dollars.


Thu, Aug 26, 2010 : 9:27 a.m.

On these roads you never had to slow down for bikers and now you do. It is an issue. If the county is aware of the problem then why don't they find some way to compact the gravel on the shoulders so bikers don't have to ride in the road. It's funny how disconnected the county and the city are. Since the city just approved a bunch of downtown bike lane improvements just two weeks ago.


Thu, Aug 26, 2010 : 9:23 a.m.

Here is another view on this - seal coating makes the roads very hazardous for motorcycles and scooters - which, by the way DO pay license fees. As a motorcycle commuter, these seal coated roads have certainly made some daily commutes... interesting lets say. I understand the motivation behind seal coating but am not really convinced of the advantages - the roads that I have been on that have been seal coated are in some cases only marginally improved - and this is before the first freeze/thaw cycle of winter. Does seal coating really prevent the potholes and divots that we as Michigan drivers have come to expect from our public road system? As far as bicycles - yes they do have every right to the road according to state law so enough of the "get a car" talk and pay more attention - watch for them and watch for me and my fellow motorcyclists and we can all get where we are going safely.


Thu, Aug 26, 2010 : 8:53 a.m.

All they need to do is sweep the shoulder and the surface would be fine. Maybe they can get that RC guy I saw on HRD looking at the ditch and scratching his dupa to do it.


Thu, Aug 26, 2010 : 8:28 a.m.

...........if Ann Arbor is the 14th most friendly in the nation for bicyclists..........I can only imagine side bar: to car drivers......... PLEASE DON'T stop in the middle of the road IF you see a cyclists waiting to take a left from one road to the other.......... very polite but WAY TOOOOO Dangerous


Thu, Aug 26, 2010 : 8:22 a.m.

"This is another case of the "fifth W" of journalism. Who, What, When, Where and Who Cares." That's a bit harsh, don't you think? It is an interesting story, no matter how we feel about it. Personally, I could care less about what cyclists' think of roads built for autos, but I still read it.


Thu, Aug 26, 2010 : 8:22 a.m.

First of all, I am a cyclist, as well as a driver and taxpayer. Cyclists pay property tax, income tax, gas tax, licensing taxes- we live here, too, and contribute just as equally as everyone else. We also have every right, legally, to be on the road. I am respectful to every driver on the road, and I have found Michigan driver's to be some of the most respectful, friendliest drivers in the country. I love riding my bike, and ride almost 5000 miles a year on these roads. I also fully understand the economics of chip-seal, and why it is being used for some roads. There are tons of roads that need help in Michigan. Whitmore Lake road and Plymouth-Ann Arbor road were NOT those roads. The bigger issue isn't just chip-seal and whether or not we are comfortable on our bikes. That is one factor, but more importantly, it is safety, and respect for ALL users of the road. Before they 'improved' WLR and Plymouth-Ann Arbor, the pavement was perfect and there were generously wide shoulders, so cyclists could ride their bikes and cars could drive by without having to avoid us. These were two of the safest roads for cars and cyclists, and they are close enough to the city so that there is easy access, encouraging exercise and enjoyment of some gorgeous Michigan countryside. Now, the chip-seal 'improvement' has eliminated the shoulder. All of the gravel gets driven onto the shoulder, and the edges don't get worn down by car traffic, making the shoulder unrideable. The only place that is rideable is where the car tracks are, in the middle of the lane, causing cyclists to be in the way of the cars. Obviously, this is dangerous to cyclists and annoying to drivers. Unfortunately, there are no alternate routes to these roads- that is why they were so popular in the first place. Chip-seal on all other roads wouldn't be such a big deal. On Miller, and other roads that have chip seal, but far less traffic, there are places to safely ride. If they used chip-seal on the dirt roads, it would open up miles of available roads to bike traffic. It's just that WLR and Plymouth-Ann Arbor road have too much car traffic to ride without a shoulder, and they were so perfect to cyclists before they destroyed the road. Cyclists don't ride unsafe roads, like North Territorial- we pick low traffic roads, and roads with a shoulder. Now the 2 safest roads are out. Why punish people for wanting to ride a bike? Why make it more difficult and unsafe to be outside and active? What good does that do for our society- encourage obesity and more consumption of oil? The plea isn't to stop all chip-sealing. It's just to consider the safety of EVERYONE that uses the road. If WLR and Plymouth-Ann Arbor had been left alone, this would not be an issue. The roads commission (or whoever) decided to SPEND money to make these roads 100 times worse- for both cars and cyclists. Please, I just want those two roads back....

Elaine F. Owsley

Thu, Aug 26, 2010 : 8:01 a.m.

Dee Dee is right. This is another case of the "fifth W" of journalism. Who, What, When, Where and Who Cares.


Thu, Aug 26, 2010 : 7:52 a.m. and AABTS - please get a life! If this is the best story can think of to lead with we are in so much trouble. If AABTS "beliefs" about suitability of low cost sealing vs. expensive and far more energy/resource consuming repaving replace sound civil engineering, we are in even more trouble. Research has been in on this for years. I lived a lot of years in Central Illinois where this is used all the time - "believe" it, it works. Bigger question is why does focus on petty gripes of special interest groups instead of bigger picture of bringing community together to solve real problems?


Thu, Aug 26, 2010 : 7:30 a.m.

@Thomas Hunt Would you mind telling us just where you were educated in road building techniques?It would seem you know quite a lot about these procedures. It seems we should expect a conspiracy here thus the need for an independent study. I don't know why this is such a problem. Most cyclist I see ride where my right tire should be anyway!


Thu, Aug 26, 2010 : 7:23 a.m.

I do think that the bikers have nothing to complain about. I believe any biker who uses the road should have to pay something, have some sort of license, to help maintain the roads and pay for their bike paths, which I wish there were more of. They cause so much trouble in Ann Arbor. If you're going to be riding in traffic, you should follow the traffic laws, meaning stopping at the lights, not passing on the shoulder in the thin space between my car and curb. It's a hazard.


Thu, Aug 26, 2010 : 7:20 a.m.

Tough call: The money savings and advantages are impressive. On roads with less traffic cyclists lose a favored route for weeks (a whole season or longer) as the loose, unbonded "gravel" on the margins persists. Eventually the offending material migrates to the shoulder/ditch where again it presents a hazard if vehicle avoidance is required. The sensation is like riding on marbles and for added pleasure, vehicles speeding past pelt the rider with chips/stones. Although I shudder at contributor's suggestions, I'll ask if, after several weeks of conditioning, vacuuming can be employed to remove the excess material (similar to paving preparation)?

Elaine F. Owsley

Thu, Aug 26, 2010 : 7:19 a.m.

We could always start licensing bikes so that the riders really have some say in how the money is spent. Considering they can use almost any other roads, this is pretty petty griping. Get a car.


Thu, Aug 26, 2010 : 7:19 a.m.

My mountain bike has slicks and it's been no big deal riding on these chipped roads. I just took a different route for a day or two to avoid the tar.


Thu, Aug 26, 2010 : 7:17 a.m.

This is a poor way to do things. I'm headed out today to sweep up all the loose gravel the Commission left at the entrance to our subdivision. It's a hazard for cars, bikes and unsightly. They just dump the gravel and leave up to folks like me to clean up their mess. There will be enough loose gravel (not sure what I'm going to do with it either) to fill several buckets. I'll be thinking of the Commission as I'm working for free for an hour plus. Thanks Commission! Sloppy work, period.


Thu, Aug 26, 2010 : 7:15 a.m.

Jayroo is right on the tar. The chips also chip away your vehicle's corrosion protection (wheel houses and underbody). Watch your car rust over time.


Thu, Aug 26, 2010 : 7:01 a.m.

"A lot of the club members are really upset. It forces us to take an alternative route." If you blow a gasket because you have to make a detour for a little while, you've got more important things to work on than your lack of MapQuest skills.

Thomas Hunt

Thu, Aug 26, 2010 : 6:57 a.m.

Aside from the poor road surface chip sealing creates. I believe that the process actually does a poor job of preserving the surface over time. The 'extension' value should be challenged by independent research. The process clearly makes the surface more rigid and thus should be expected to be more prone to develop cracks as the temperature cycles. Alternatives should be explored. Full repaving is not the only option. Sealing with thin layer to prevent water intrusion, crack treatment when they occur could work and be cheaper than the chip/seal approach. From a cyclist's point of view, the road surface which gets smoother with time is never good again.

Jeff Gaynor

Thu, Aug 26, 2010 : 6:54 a.m.

"Roads are built for large and dangerous autos, not bikers." Good point. In Marburg, Germany, when traffic into downtown got too heavy they NARROWED the road to discourage car traffic. They also have separate bike paths throughout the country - everyone bikes. There, transportation is built for the people, and the environment, not for "large and dangerous autos," producing a better mix of safer transportation options, and better land use, with less asphalt overall. Think about how much of our landscape is given over for car use.


Thu, Aug 26, 2010 : 6:50 a.m.

I am a cyclist riding these roads, and yes it is less than ideal to ride, but come on. Pick a new route for a week, maybe you'll see something interesting. I also feel that these road cyclists are ridding machines that are overly delicate and only good to ride on perfect ribbon asphalt. A touring bike or cyclocross bike has room for tires (28mm+) that are suitable to ride on all of Michigan's roadways and even allow you to escape the traffic and explore rural dirt roads. Not saying everyone should go get a new bike, just that sometimes you should leave the Porsche in the garage and drive the Audi, if you get my drift.

Steve Pepple

Thu, Aug 26, 2010 : 6:49 a.m.

A couple of comments were removed because they contained personal attacks against another commenter.


Thu, Aug 26, 2010 : 6:42 a.m.

The worst part is all of the small bits of tar it leaves on your car. We have white work vans that have hundreds of little bits of tar all over them from driving down these roads. It is not fun trying to remove them. This process relies on "our' vehicles to work in these loose stones so if you care about the body of your car avoid these roads at all costs!


Thu, Aug 26, 2010 : 6:29 a.m.

"With cell phone distractions on top of normal driver distractions, I'm afraid to ride my bike in the roadway." You should be. Roads are built for large and dangerous autos, not bikers. Thank you Washtenaw County Road Commission for your work fixing so many of our roads this season.


Thu, Aug 26, 2010 : 6:24 a.m.

Actually has worked out well on Maple Road in what i believe is Pittsfield Township. Minor inconvenience for drivers for a couple of days, but the road seems to have taken well to this treatment. Drivers have to deal with dtours and construction barrels all the time; cyclist should expect the same.


Thu, Aug 26, 2010 : 6:19 a.m.

Wouldn't it be nice if the money saved could go towards putting in a bike path separate from the road way? With cell phone distractions on top of normal driver distractions, I'm afraid to ride my bike in the roadway.

Craig Lounsbury

Thu, Aug 26, 2010 : 6:18 a.m.



Thu, Aug 26, 2010 : 5:50 a.m.

Hmmm....sorry, but the needs of our transportation infrastructure greatly outweigh the needs of the AABTS. I understand their gripe--I ride bikes recreationally myself--but this is a minor inconvenience in the grand scheme of things. In fact, I like the idea of the road commission being so proactive.