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Light roads could fix slippery molten tar

Light roads could fix melting tar Los Angelese

Los Angeles is resurfacing roads with a light material to reduce heat, but it could also one day solve the problem of Australia’s melting tar which is slippery and dangerous for motorcyclists.

CoolSeal is a light-grey treatment that keeps streets and parking lots 10C degrees cooler than black asphalt.

Not only is it cooler for riders, but also grippier, according to the makers. And it may soon be tested on Australian roads.

Molten tar hazard

Melting tar is a slippery hazard for riders right around the country in summer.

Earlier this summer a Sydney rider crashed on a slippery molten surface at Mt Glorious, Brisbane.

Melting tar claims first crash victim Mt Glorious weekend severe Light roads could fix melting tar Los Angelese
Crashed bike on slippery tar on Mt Glorious

Queensland Transport and Main Roads (TMR) Department resurfaced the road.

But riders are claiming it is still slippery in hot conditions.

TMR is back working on the problem once again.

Light roads could fix melting tar Los Angelese
Molten tar remains on Mt Glorious

Improved traction

CoolSeal makers GuardTop say their substance is an asphalt-based sealcoat, not a paint. It is designed to reflect the sun’s rays as well as give good traction to roadways.

Director of Communications says Natasha Koleas says it is only applied to asphalt surfaces.

“It works just like traditional black seal coats and has outperformed other types of asphalt protection and slurry options,” she says.

“We’ve put down the product in 14 city districts of Los Angeles and in some office lots around Arizona, where riders have utilised the product on the road.”

CEO Bobby Koleas says the treatment improves traction for riders.

“There are many different types of asphalt surfaces and many different types of asphalt textures and mixes,” he says.

“From what we’ve seen with CoolSeal in the many different applications we’ve done in Los Angeles, CoolSeal actually improves both wet and dry traction. Skid resistance is something we are continually measuring with CoolSeal applications.

“It has not been specifically tested for motorcycle use but with the results we are seeing, we would expect improved traction for motorcycles.”

Light roads could fix melting tar Los Angelese
LA roads get lighter and grippier

CoolSeal was initially developed for military air bases to keep spy planes cool while they rest on the tarmac. It also helped them being detected by satellite-mounted infrared cameras that measure heat.

However, CoolSeal is now being used to reduce suburban reflective heat and the need for air-conditioning.

Cool tar

Bobby says it goes on white, but dries to a light grey matte finish. (A motorcycle colleague in LA tells us it doesn’t increase glare.)

“It is designed to reflect the sun’s rays which prevents heat from building up on the surface and makes the atmosphere above the asphalt cooler,” he says.

“So, riders should actually feel cooler riding on CoolSeal as opposed to traditional asphalt.

Aussie tests

It could also make our roads grippier and safer for riders as Bobby says they are currently planning pilot projects in Australia.

Light roads could fix melting tar Los Angelese
Light LA road

Independent Riders Group spokesman Damien Codognotto is calling for Australia to use CoolSeal.

“This is 2018 and summers are not going to get any cooler,” he says.

“There must be something that can be done to reduce this road safety problem. The question is why isn’t it being done?”

Duty of care

Maurice Blackburn Lawyers principal Malcolm Cumming says road authorities have a duty of care to “take all reasonable steps to make sure all their roads are safe for all motorists, including vulnerable road users”.

“It seems that a lot of the time the way road authorities do repair work is with complete disregard to any motorists not driving a car or other four-wheeled vehicle,” he says.

“Loose debris and poor road conditions (such as melting tar) may not be much of a hazard for most vehicles but they are extremely dangerous for riders.”

  1. Interesting.
    I suppose centrelines, lanelines, stoplines, arrows and other road markings would have to be a contrasting colour which would require amendments to standards and regulations.

    Whatever happened to concrete slab road construction? Not smooth enough for car drivers?

    1. Concrete has a couple of disadvantages, more costly to lay, and maintain being the big two. Not so good in the wet, modern asphalt (on a highway) has multiple layers with porous layers to drain the rain away.

      1. Incorrect.
        Concrete is much cheaper in the long term.
        Costs more to lay, but very low maintenance
        & motorists don’t have to suffer traffic jams caused by roadworks repairing bitumen.
        Some concrete roads laid down during WW2 are still in everyday use.

        Modern asphalt with multiple porous layers to drain rain away can’t cope with heavy rain
        & is always being repaired with tar snakes & is actually quite slippery, even when dry.
        Rough asphalt with stones chips standing proud of surface is best.

        Porous asphalt surface often peels off as soon as it’s laid – caused a few motorcycle accidents
        which would have been blamed on “speed was a factor”.

        Porous wears out very quickly – more roadworks traffic jams.
        I’ve seen a new porous road have extensive tar-snake repairs for many miles one month after it was laid.

        It’s a cheap & nasty surface.
        Engineers use it as an excuse to avoid putting channeling at side of roads.
        Contractors love it because they also get the contract to repair it almost as soon as it’s laid.

  2. Oh lord, bring it on!
    I would love to see the results on corners and super hot areas of Australia, if it survives those conditions it will be good anywhere in Australia. I just wonder how pricey the new road surface will be, will all roads be replaced as maintenance road resurfacing projects are regularly done? Will they recycle the old road surface with the “Light Road” tar?

  3. Very interesting. Hope the government uses rego and fines to actually do something like this, like they are supposed to.

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