Considerate Cycling 38: Zen And the Art of Cycle Path Maintenance

There are some very nice cycle tracks being created in South Gloucester, on the north fringe of Bristol. Housing, a retail park, a railway station, a University, a Hospital and large Ministry of Defence buildings are all close by. Signage is pretty good – with some outstanding advertisements for cycling in general.

Isn’t that a thing of beauty?

However, if I were Robert Persig, I might be looking for the nail in the broom head that marked these very good things as excellent facilities. Are South Gloucester really up to Zen Master standards? Well… what do we make of this?

Not ideal, is it? But look a bit further on as the track meets the Big Fat Roundabout and Persig might be even less happy. His careful eye might notice a lack of attention to the basic necessity of a harmonious life: sound maintenance routines.

That approaching heavy lorry is nearly on our (unmarked) crossing point and it’s only just visible from a forward position. It did occur to me that if I had brought my garden shears I could have improved things there and then. Maybe it will be done by tomorrow? The evidence from a 2012 satellite view suggests that the problem might have been left rather a long time. The red arrow in the next picture marks the blind exit.

Bushes notwithstanding, the cheap solution of tipping cyclists straight off a well-made track onto a big arterial road with no more than a dropped curb is the sort of thing that cycling campaigns are starting to make a fuss about. Cycling provision must be integral to all new traffic developments. Tacking some nice bits along the edges isn’t good enough. Building them in from the start and quality assuring their design and implementation against national standards would make them less costly than having to go back later and correct the mistakes.

In the absence of a national standard, one might give this exit the 11-year-old test: “would you send your child to school along this path on her first day at secondary school in September?” Or as Persig would say “has the broom head been given a new nail to stop it falling off the handle?”

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2 thoughts on “Considerate Cycling 38: Zen And the Art of Cycle Path Maintenance

  1. The dropped kerb isn’t intended for bikes – under the bush is the faded remains of the painted word “End” next to the cycle symbol. The overgrown bush is dangerous but should remind us that councils have even less consideration for people on foot.

    The problem here (aside from the fact that it is narrow shared path when there is plenty of room for a proper segregated path) is the green paint crossing one of the ams of the roundabout. This might give cyclists the impression that they have right of way. They certainly do not and although here this road leads to a shopping centre so cars are unlikely to be going too fast a similar situation exists on the adjacent roundabout and on this one cars are going really fast.

    I’ve passed this spot on the way to work for over a decade and I don’t think I have ever used this cyclepath.

  2. Thanks for the clarification Shawn. It’s a mark of how great the distance is between what walking and cycling might need and what highways departments are able to provide. Whether it’s because they haven’t got the knowledge/training they need, or whether it’s a shortage of resources the end result is maximum convenience for motor vehicles and everything else as an optional extra for which we (perhaps) are expected to be grateful for.

    The dilemma now is that we have a lot of new schemes being planned and offering comments on the deficiencies in those is taking up a lot of time, with the result that glaring problems with recent or long-standing designs get left behind.

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