Pathway Leaves – A Menace for Cycling?

As if there weren’t enough hazards to contend with on the road, it seems that pathways are not always safer either. Last Monday morning apparently there was an accident in Hagley Park where an experienced cyclist on a mountain bike slipped on the wet leaves on a pathway and suffered quite serious broken bone injuries.

Seems harmless enough… (at least this section is straight)

When I lived in my old house, my daily commute would take me through Hagley Park. At this time of the year, I was always conscious of the threat that fallen leaves seemed to provide on wet days. When I mentioned it one time to a colleague, I recall him teasing me with light-hearted jibes about these “dangerous” leaves I had to watch out for – well, it looks like they have finally found a victim…

What colour is this path, exactly?

This does seem to be symptomatic of a wider problem that often plagues parks – they don’t appear to get the same maintenance attention as roads. That difference in “level of service” also seems to apply to gravel, glass, ponding, and a whole bunch of other obstructions affecting paths and roads. For example, a couple of weeks ago when I was riding on the Wrights-Annex cycleway after a decent downpour, I was virtually swimming for most of its length, such was the lack of decent drainage (pathways need crowns and side-drains too!). It does make me wonder whether a similar problem may occur if we are going to start creating more separated cycleways that aren’t part of the roadway proper…

This time of year also highlights another bugbear of mine about the Hagley Park pathways. Council parks maintenance vehicles tend to use the same pathways to get around from A to B; unfortunately in doing this they also tend to make a big mess of the adjacent berms when the ground is a bit wet. The worst is where they have to straddle a narrow path, with the net effect that half of the mud on each side of the path gets thrown onto the path. So I have to wonder (a) how about widening a few of the narrow paths if you’re going to drive on them, or (b) how about getting some narrower (and lighter – less path damage) vehicles for parks maintenance. Better yet – why not do like our Beijing friends and do your maintenance on a bicycle!

Not made for motor vehicles…

What do you think? Are leaves on pathways a big concern for you? Do you think pathways get the rough end of the stick when it comes to maintenance?

3 thoughts on “Pathway Leaves – A Menace for Cycling?”

  1. Having cycle trucks as the primary service vehicles in parks makes a great deal of sense. Cheaper to run, less noise/pollution, less wear and tear on paths, sensitivity to other path users. Common sense, really.

  2. Bradford Park opposite City Care’s Milton St depot was cleared very was quickly last week when in a day or two the paths became indistinguishable from their surrounds .

    I rode Wrights-Annex cycleway flooded that day too, Marylands-Halls Pl section was particularly deep.
    Wrights-Halls Pl is too narrow, especially with the traffic it’s been getting with the Birmingham Dr roadworks forcing workers to abandon their cars.

    The NZTA finally almost completely sealed our national cycleway of insignificance Wrights-Lincoln Rd after a 6 month delay. It never seems to occur to their contractors it’s a legitimate thoroughfare or they don’t believe these cyclists they’re building this thing for actually exist..

  3. We received a useful response from the CCC Parks Manager about the incident last week:
    “The paths are swept twice a month on the cycleway through the pavement maintenance contract. They receive additional sweeping when required in autumn/early winter if leaf build up is significant. This is dependent on weather, as wind tends to remove them. In this instance the heavy rain over the weekend and the subsequent wet days meant a larger than normal volume of leaf was on both cycleway and carriageways in and around Hagley Park.”
    Good to know that, in the main, this issue is being looked after!

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