Flashback Friday: Pathway Leaves – A Menace for Cycling?

Autumn is a lovely time of year as the leaves on the trees turn into golden shades. But it’s also the time when those leaves eventually start dropping off. I was reminded of this when cycling along one of the new cycleways last week – while it was great to see it completed, it was also heavily littered with leaves from the adjacent street trees. Some regular maintenance needed! Pathway leaves have occupied my mind in the past too, not least because of their potential dangers when wet, as this post originally from May 2013 discusses – seems like an appropriate topic on Friday 13th…

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?

2 thoughts on “Flashback Friday: Pathway Leaves – A Menace for Cycling?”

  1. The other morning I was cycling from the CBD into Linwood Park at the light-controlled Ensors Rd intersection. On entering the park there are 4 posts with chains between posts 1&2 and 3&4. There were leaves galore and dappled shadows. One chain could be seen as it had a big red rectangle hung from it. The other chain was almost completely obscured in the dappled shadow and leaves. I raised a snap-send-solve with CCC, was told it was fixed next day. Still to check it out…
    I hope the leaves have been swept away too.

  2. Wooden bridges can also be treacherous when wet. Specially the ones that don’t have added grip mesh stapled down.

    Seems being near water can encourage moss growth, which is hard to see but like ice when wet.

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