Tyred? No, not yet…

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I was driving north again up the M5 the other day, joining the M6 at that ridiculous Birmingham junction where the 3-lane M5 becomes 2 lanes and then joins the 3-lane M6. These are busy motorways, but the junction of the two motorways (designed by so-called traffic planners) has no extra lanes, at and beyond the junction, to take the extra traffic joining from the M5. Did they really think that 2 + 3 equals 3? The rest of us can do the maths and see that it comes to 5, the number of lanes you need to keep the resulting traffic flowing safely.

It’s so laughably silly (who was responsible for that?), but it seems we’re stuck with it at a critical UK motorway network junction. The tailback at just after 7am was three quarters of a mile. Common sense was sadly missing in that design, but it certainly wasn’t where I was headed.

The trip was made in driving rain with the usual tailgating vans displaying, at best, a complete lack of common sense. It’s the time when you concentrate hard to create your safe space on the road and it’s the time when you think about your tyres.

And tyres was the point of the trip as I was visiting Michelin UK’s factories and HQ in Stoke-on-Trent to learn about retreading. Amazingly it’s a big retreading milestone anniversary; Michelin has been retreading tyres for 100 years, since 1923.

Making the casing that holds the tread for the commercial truck and bus/coach tyre is expensive, so to extend the life of that casing as long as possible, safely, that’s common sense.

Since 1966, when its Remix-branded retreading process began in the UK, Michelin has processed and put back to use 10 million tyres which would otherwise have become a disposal problem. So this plant has a significant positive environmental impact, having re-used some 500,000 tonnes of raw material since its inception. For Michelin as a whole, its European retreading businesses have processed 30 million tyres, saving 1.5 million tonnes of raw material.


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