Work with me here folks. This idea is in its infancy, and I appreciate it would have limited applications. Borne of a remark made by reader Lukas, after my previous post, is an idea I have now to make bike paths harder to walk on than ride on.
To date designers of shared bicycle/pedestrians zones have come up with a few ideas to protect pedestrians from careless cyclists, but none to protect cyclists from careless pedestrians. For example, last year during my travels, I noticed harbour side areas in Copenhagen generally had broad areas of textured paving, striped with lines providing anyone with wheels a smoother surface on which to roll. Seeing this, I figured pedestrians will walk wherever they like, while cyclists might prefer those smooth strips, and stick to riding on them. The thinking seems to be that pedestrians can wander around blithely, while cyclists must keep their wits if they want to stay off the cobbles. But isn’t there some way of designing bike paths that pedestrians wont want to walk on?
With his blog comment Lukas reminds us that the cambered velodrome wall is easy to ride on (even slowly, without g-forces increasing our traction) yet is virtually impossible to walk on without twisting an ankle. Now I’m imagining designated bike routes in areas where there are problems with pedestrians straying into bike riders’ paths, evolving to become V-shaped trenches.
Along the lake edge in Chicago I witnessed a far more gently cambered surface than the one pictures above, yet it very effectively shed pedestrians onto the flat route alongside it. So yes, I’m seeing subtle Vs carved into pedestrian/bicycling zones, that cyclists can dip into and at the same time naturally gather some speed, then pop out of, naturally slowing. They won’t be stencilled or signposted, so wont give cyclists a dangerous sense of entitlement, but they will will be less comfortable for pedestrians, who will choose cobbled areas off to the side, that will less comfortable for those of us cycling. Thanks Lukas!