Monday 18 May 2009

Maintaining the network

I've known comments from other places about cycle paths not being maintained properly. That excuses are made that the paths are too narrow for vehicles which sweep up, clean them or to grit them.

These two photos show two different types of cycle path. The first is a main cycle route for high speeds (I featured it previously, with video), while the second is a path past housing (motor vehicle access to these houses is at the rear). In the first case you'll see a council maintenance vehicle parked. Due to the cycle path being of the usual width for this part of the world it is much wider than the vehicle, so no problem with access. In the second photo you can see the characteristic lines in dust left by a road sweeping vehicle a few minutes previously.

Both cycle paths are about four metres wide, and both have lighting at night. A well maintained path with lighting is what is needed for a good level of social safety.


Brent said...

Do you happen to know how the town/council/local government came by the land to build out the cycle network? I'm guessing that the motor roadways largely followed old and ancient paths, but the cycle paths seem to be a newer idea. I wonder whether eminent domain was used...and to what cost?

David Hembrow said...

Brent: In the case of the photos on this page, it was new-build in the 1970s so the cycle paths were planned in as they are. That's normal here, it's still the case with more modern developments. Where land needs to be acquired it's the same process as would be used to build a road.

That's the key. It's not a big deal, it's just providing basic services. In most countries you wouldn't build housing without essential services such as roads, sewerage, fresh water, electricity supply, gas and sidewalks. In this country you can add cycle paths to the list of essential services.

The budget for new cycle paths within this city is currently around 1.8M Euros per year, or around 27 Euros per person per year. However, new developments bring their own provision which is paid for by developers, and maintenance (which really is done to a high standard) comes from the normal maintenance budget, not from the cycling budget.

Karl McCracken (twitter: @karlonsea) said...

It's this maintenance step that's often missing in the UK. Councils do sometimes build good facilities (in part - getting an end-to-end journey is pretty much impossible), but then as they don't get the traffic (see the previous bracket), they fall into disrepair, getting overgrown and quickly reclaimed by nature.

I have seen evidence of sweeping & repairs here though recently - both in Gateshead and North Tyneside.

2whls3spds said...

This is what happens to path building and maintenance in many places in the US, last to be funded, first to cut. Sad commentary on life in America.


Anneke said...

@ Brent, almost all roads here have a cyclepath next to it, so no older vs newer there, then there are cases where the road has been moved, with it the cyclepath, but the 'old' road is still there as a cyclepath, then there is an old train route close to our house. The trains stopped running in the 40s after WW2, and consequently they removed the tracks, but in the 60s they built the cyclepath. This results in a route for cyclists that is more direct (straight in right into the centre) than the route for cars.

Anonymous said...

Refusing to maintain cycle paths is a common problem. Where I live, cycling paths are poorly maintained, never cleaned and are falling apart via tree roots.

Interesting to note that even in Seattle (which has nearly doubled the miles of bicycle routes since 2006) the "Satisfaction with pavement quality" is rated D-plus.

Unknown said...

Our off road bike path has plenty of width for a medium sized pickup truck. During the summer there is a small machine that goes down a small stretch to clean up.

However the bike lanes (painted lines on roads) are hardly ever cleaned. And all it takes are normal street sweepers.
The excuse is that not enough people use them to be cleaned regularly.

And don't even get me started with snow. The only time bike lanes are cleared, is when spring is around the corner. This past winter, with many more bike lanes added to our roads, NOT ONE was cleared. Which then meant people who did ride in the winter were pushed out into the streets.