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Country Bicycle Paths

path, surface, cycle, inches, cinders, wide, usually and grade

COUNTRY BICYCLE PATHS. As a rule, country cycle paths are chiefly for pleasure riding, and the money available for their construction is limited; and consequently the severest economy must be employed. A country cycle path may be anything from a narrow strip of turf worn smooth by the passage of wheels or pedes trians to a broad and carefully constructed roadway.


Country cycle paths are usually located at the side of the public highway, in the West at least, between the side ditch and the property line (see § 88); and in any case there should be a ditch between the bicycle path and the carriage way to prevent teamsters from trespassing upon the former.


Length is more important than width, and conse quently the path should be made no wider than is necessary to accommodate the travel. A cyclist touring alone, or several riding in single file. may ride swiftly and comfortably on a path only 10 or 12 inches wide. Unless the travel is considerable, a width from 3 to 4 feet is abundant. One rider can safely pass another at speed upon a path 4 feet wide.


If possible the grades should be reduced to 5 per cent or less, as a steeper grade can not be ascended without extreme effort and is liable to cause accidents in descending. A 2 per cent grade can be ascended with comparative ease and be de scended with but little effort and without serious danger.

Cross Section.

The surface of the bicycle path should be raised above the general natural surface to afford drainage. Usu ally the excavation of a slight ditch on each side of the path will furnish material sufficient for this purpose. The surface should have a slight crown, that is, should be a little higher in the center than at the sides. On level dry ground it is sufficient to have an elevation of 4 inches at the center and 2 inches at the sides where the surface of the path begins to slope abruptly to the natural sur face. In low wet places it may be necessary to throw up a lo* embankment upon which to construct the path; and on a side hill it is necessary to provide ditches of sufficient capacity to carry away the storm water and to prevent it from coursing down the middle of the cycle path. If the side hill is steep in a direction transverse to the path, it will be necessary to construct a catch-water drain (see 116) and to build culverts under the path at intervals, to prevent the storm water from flowing over the path.


For a discussion of the various materials employed in constructing cycle paths, see § 973.

In some cases the construction consists in simply cutting a strip of grass 10 or 12 inches wide along the location selected, to indicate the line of the path and to confine the travel, leaving the passing wheels to make a smooth surface. In other cases a path is made by turning a furrow with a plow and raking down the loosened earth at one side of the furrow to form a level surface for the passage of the wheels, which in time will compact the earth and make it hard and smooth.

A more elaborate construction consists in removing the sod and spreading a layer of cinders 3 or 4 inches thick. Cycle paths are not subjected to heavy loads, and hence do not require a carefully prepared foundation; but if the natural soil is loose and porous, it is better and more economical of the surfacing material to roll the sub grade before applying the cinders. All grass, weeds, loose roots, etc., should be removed from the subgrade before rolling it. The cinders should be sprinkled and then rolled with a roller weighing not less than 20 pounds per linear inch of face. The rolling is usually done with a hand roller.

Cost. Fairly good cycle paths have frequently been con structed for $20 per mile by leveling off the rough places and apply ing a thin coat of cinders where most needed. Where there is not much grading required, a cinder surface 2 to 3 feet wide will cost about $100 per mile.

In St. Paul, Minn., in 1897, a 6-foot cycle path consisting of cin ders 3 inches deep at the center and 2 inches at the side, covered with about inch of clay or loam and a coating of coarse sand, constructed along a country road where the cinders were hauled an average of 1i miles, cost $200 per mile.* Maintenance. The work of maintenance depends some what upon the nature of the material of which the surface is com posed; but usually consists in (1) repairing damages from storm water and trespassers, (2) cutting out weeds, particularly at the edge of the path, and lining up the side to give a neater appearance, (3) raking and rolling the surface of the path, (4) adding a layer of cinders or gravel where necessary. The above repairs of a cinder path cost about $25 to $30 per mile, for each time over the path, which is usually once per year.