Flashback Friday: More messy pathways in winter

We’re about to cop a whole bunch of rain again for the next few days and, while, the amount of cycling around may be somewhat reduced anyway due to lockdown, it will be interesting to see how our pathways fare. Seven years ago (when this post first aired in July 2014), I wasn’t terribly impressed with the drainage performance of many of our paths. The new cycleways since then have certainly improved quite a few routes, but I can still think of some places that could do with a bit more work to cope with the wet times…

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…

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…

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…

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…

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?

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