More messy pathways in winter

At this time of year, I’m not a big fan of cycling through our reserves like Hagley Park. As I go along the various paths, I can only conclude that the parks management staff really don’t understand the role of paths as all-weather transport links in the same way that their roading brethren do.

Great, where do I cycle. Meanwhile, the adjacent road is perfectly drained...
Great, where do I cycle. Meanwhile, the adjacent road is perfectly drained…

It seems that it doesn’t take much rain at all for various parts of our pathway network to become inundated with water. More worryingly, some of that water can stay for days before it slowly seeps away. Meanwhile, right next door, the adjacent roads typically drain all the rainwater efficiently off their surfaces as quickly as it arrives.

This pathway hadn't seen rain in three days...
This pathway hadn’t seen rain in three days…

As mentioned before, it’s really not that hard to provide a good all-weather pathway. Just elevate it slightly above the surrounding ground and provide a sloping profile that drains the water off. Not sure where to start? I’d suggest our parks staff have a wander around the pathways during the next decent rain and note where the water ponds – there’s no shortage of existing examples.

In the case of Hagley Park pathways at least, if it’s not water then it’s mud. At the first sign of winter rain, the pathways suddenly become covered with mud, and it’s not hard to identify the culprits…

They don't look like bike tyres to me...
They don’t look like bike tyres to me…

The paths that are so convenient for everyone to walk and bike on are also rather convenient for parks service vehicles to get around the park. Unfortunately most of the paths are not actually that wide, and thus the tyres end up straddling the edges and tracking mud back onto the path.

It seems to me there are a few options available:

  • Widen the paths so that they can comfortably fit parks vehicles. This also has the added advantage of providing more path capacity as well, given that virtually all pathways in Christchurch are of insufficient width for the peak walk/bike demands.

(P.S: They might also want to make sure that the pathways are thick enough to hold a small truck too; it ain’t the bikes that are putting the paths out of shape…)

  • Buy narrow-width parks vehicles – it is possible to get purpose-built small vehicles.
  • Better yet, why not invest in a few parks cargo-bikes instead?
There's a path under there somewhere...
There’s a path under there somewhere…

You might think that this is being nit-picky; after all, people in some parts of Christchurch are currently having to contend with an abundance of water all the time, largely thanks to post-quake ground shifts. And in some eastern areas, the roads are certainly no longer shaped to efficiently send the water away. The thing is, in the middle of a typical wet winter, I and many others also have to contend with unnecessary flooding and mud just going about our daily business. And it was like that before the quakes came along too…

Do you have problems biking on park pathways in winter?

4 thoughts on “More messy pathways in winter”

  1. Unfortunately the CCC need to cut 3 million of its park budget this year so i think it will be some time before you will see any improvement

  2. I agree it is offputting, you need to be prepared to change when you get to work or wear grey or dirty coloured trousers on the way to work, I think Hagley Park’s cycle/ shared tracks should be better, including the unsealed one which lines the inside of Little Hagley Park, it is a good option if you for various reasons end up on that side, but it needs a sack of gravel in places to unbog it. Plus with all this talk of expensive new cycleways – hello? But can we make the ones we use useful/ dryish/ drained?

  3. The paths in Hagley park have been a lot more prone to flooding since the quakes. Actually seems like a lot of open ground in Chch doesn’t soak away the same as it did. Liquifacation has blocked the soakage ability of the upper layer? I don’t know however suspect it’s not as a simple as add a bit of drainage channel or pipes into soakage pits. We may need to put up with it for a long time to come.

    Although the pictured flooding between Lake Victoria and the little pond might be quick fix as has only been since they re-lined & refilled the lake. No flooding pre quakes & when the lake was first damaged then drained there was no flooding across the path. Same for the first 12mths after the fix but since then regular flooding. Often you can see water pouring into the small pond via a pipe (pumped ?), overfilling the pond then going across the path to the main lake. Easy fix if the control valve is closed or controlled better in wet weather ? Riding the alternative route through the carpark road on other side of the lake is quite hazardous as there major potholes through there & a lot of loose gravel on the broken sealed surface. Bright lights (annoyingly bright?) are needed to ride through there safely.

  4. I cannot remember Hagley Park ever looking so wet . But let’s not forget that prior to this year the largest annual rainfall for Christchurch since 1980 was in 1986 with 832mm . According to Metservice our rainfall for the first 6 months of this year was 455 mm . Even so, just a minute fraction of the roading budget needs to be trimmed to deal with this in the near future otherwise the money spent on cycleways will not realise full potential. This maintenance should not be coming from Parks budget in my opinion , it is a transport issue.

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