A Smooth Pavement Benefits All Road Users

On the heels of The Harley-Davidson® Homecoming™ Festival that took place earlier this month to celebrate the company’s 120th anniversary, we thought it would be a good time to reflect on why smooth pavements are important to drivers and riders alike.

The four-day celebration in Milwaukee saw more than 73,000 bikes lining the H-D museum grounds, hosted more than 130,000 attendees, and included a motorcycle parade of more than 7,000 bikes.

Pavement smoothness is critical for all road users, including motorcyclists. A smooth pavement provides a comfortable ride, reduces vehicle operating costs, and decreases fuel consumption. For bikers, the importance of smoothness is even more important due to the unique characteristics of motorcycle dynamics.

  • Safety: Smooth pavements reduce the risk of motorcycle accidents. Rough roads can cause a loss of traction or cause a motorcycle to bounce, making it harder for the rider to maintain control.
  • Comfort: Motorcycles, due to their lighter weight and two-wheel design, are more sensitive to pavement imperfections than cars. As a result, the rider feels more vibrations and bumps, which can lead to discomfort and fatigue during long rides.
  • Vehicle Health: Rough roads can cause more wear and tear on a motorcycle, leading to higher maintenance costs. This damage can affect various parts of the bike, including the suspension, tires, and frame.
  • Fuel Efficiency: Smooth pavements result in better fuel mileage. This is especially important for motorcyclists who are often concerned about the range of their vehicles.
  • Noise Reduction: Smooth pavements are quieter, which is beneficial for the overall community and for the rider. Noise from rough pavements can be distracting and uncomfortable for motorcyclists.

To ensure the smoothness of the pavement, several factors need to be considered during the construction process, including surface preparation, maintaining a uniform mix temperature, proper grade control for pavers, compaction efforts, and joint construction.

So what makes asphalt so smooth?

  • Construction Process: Asphalt is a flexible pavement that’s laid down in layers and compacted, which generally results in a smoother finish.
    Material Characteristics: The small, granular nature of asphalt and its flexibility allows it to adapt to the ground’s contours and settle evenly.
    Repair and Maintenance: When asphalt pavements need to be repaired, the process typically involves adding more asphalt and smoothing it out, which can maintain the smoothness of the road.
    Expansion and Contraction: Asphalt can expand and contract with temperature changes without cracking.

Pavement smoothness is crucial for the safety, comfort, and efficiency of the driving public. This feature should be a key consideration when planning and implementing road construction and maintenance projects.

While all pavement types have their advantages and specific uses, asphalt is often the smoothest option and is preferred for high-traffic areas and applications where smoothness is a priority, such as highways, major roads, and airport runways.

As always, if you have any questions about this information or if we can be of assistance in any way, please don’t hesitate to contact us.

Thank you,

Deb Schwerman
Wisconsin Asphalt Pavement Association