Paulina Grebenstein 2019 

grebenstein@urbanedenlab.com 

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floodwater cycling path & urban wetland

The imagined cycling path is designed to be low cost and as sustainable as grey infrastructure can be. U-shaped elements made out of recycled concrete act as the runoff channels. Prefabricated ground plates, made out of a “drainage-titan” concrete mixture, funnel any downpour directly into the channel beneath the cyclists. Puddles are banished meaning the cyclist stays dry while beneath him titanium dioxide converts toxic nitrogen oxide into the nontoxic NO3; in short cleaning the air by removing exhaust pollutants. For a colour, bright blue was chosen to underline the path’s connection to the water and make it recognizable as a special cycling path. At the same time the colour contributes to a possible high albedo factor. Due to the lightweight construction of each drainage concrete panel, they can be easily accessed and exchanged separately. Furthermore, cables and pipes can be integrated into its continuous cavity, allowing for low-cost maintenance or additional functions, like integrated lighting. 

The cycling path is elevated above street level creating a clear separation from the car traffic and upping safety as motorized vehicles cannot swerve into the prescribed lane. More secure bicycle infrastructures promote bike use and encourage vulnerable groups, such as children and the elderly, to cycle. The elevation also creates a bridge-like appearance, through metal arcs with filigree grids, which are almost indiscernible at certain angles. Integrated lighting succeeds in creating increased visibility and safety. Particularly at busy intersections it is paramount to protect cyclists and pedestrians. Curb extensions provide additional safety and are used for retention or filtration systems, like bioswales or wetlands. Additional measures are added onto pavements when space allows.  As the streetscape and the experience of inhabiting it is usually stipulated by consumerism, generous seating areas in a kind of oasis displace the influence of capitalism, by creating a safe public space whose primary purpose is for sitting, mingling, lingering and resting without any prerequisites. Adjacent to the cycling path, greened ditches brighten the visuals of the street, where possible, while supporting percolation and the micro-climate. These different elements build on one another; the water is stored in the bioswale, which can then overflow into the ditch, where it runs off into the channel beneath the bike path. A mechanical filter is installed within the bike path to remove sand, rubbish, oil and micro plastics. The latter is mostly shed from tyre abrasion which is the biggest contributor to micro plastic accumulation in our environment (Bertling et al 2018). Furthermore, unused pavements are exposed and rebuilt with permeable floor tiles that include gaps for percolation and plants to grow.