Friday, 7 September 2012


There is a superb blogpost about the process that was adopted to have halfway decent cycling infrastructure installed on one street in London. It is in Camden and it is described in detail on the Vole O'Speed blog (its author, David Arditti, is a board member of the Cycling Embassy of Great Britain. Its website has lots of useful information).

The blog post is long and shows the difficulties anyone potentially faces in improving conditions for pedestrians and cyclists. It is well worth a read if you are involved or thinking of getting involved in campaigning.

There was one point made in the post that got me thinking. That is how the designers and builders dealt with drains. As they are over here, before the bike path was built the drains were on the edge of the road in the gutter. The roads are sloped from the centre so that rainwater runs into the gutters each side and then drains into drains. In the case of Camden, the drains had to be reconstructed leading to further expense.

My big dream is for the wasted space on the side of the arterial roads throughout the CBD be used for wide, raised bike lanes like these ones:

To install them would be easy - just build the borders and then fill them in. There is a great post about how to do it with pictures of some in progress on Copenhagenize.

Let's say in some far distant future by some miracle, we manage to convince our decision-makers that spending a decent amount of money on alternatives to the car is a good idea. What happens when you tarmac over a drain? How is the water drained away, given that one would think you wouldn't want a bike lane on the sloping edge of a road?

I was thinking it would involve complex engineering to re-arrange all of the drainage but it's not quite that complicated at all. I searched on the web for information about it but without success. So I consulted the oracle - Mr Copenhagenize himself. He very kindly replied (very quickly) and said:

Cycle tracks, as a rule, are built along existing curbs, so the drains are rarely moved. They are merely extended upwards to the new surface of the cycle track.

There are instances when a major resurfacing or redesign is underway that drains are extended out to the new curbline, but they usually lead back to the exisiting drain location.

Does that at all help?

Oh yes it does. It means that a cycle track here just requires the drain to be raised a little. This, for example, could be easily fixed:

Where necessary, plonk in a new drain on the road next to the bike track and just connect that to the existing drain. Brilliant.

This drain obsession may perhaps lead to a diagnosis of aspergers but I promise it isn't. I was just trying to think of what other excuses there are not to put a bit of road space aside for this. Drains are now not one of them.

1 comment:

  1. That really isn't that complicated. I wonder what excuses for not fixing it though are going to follow... Thanks for sharing this.