Mapping root damage on the Alban Way

By | 7th January 2020

The Welwyn Hatfield section of the Alban Way runs from Wrestlers Bridge in Hatfield to the Welwyn Hatfield boundary. St Albans City Council is responsible for the rest of the route.

With WelHatCycling’s intervention it was resurfaced with tarmac to a high standard funded by Welwyn Hatfield Borough Council who have responsibility for maintenance along that section. It is a heavily used cycling and walking track, catering for commuters, school children and leisure and recreational users.

In the past couple of years tree roots have been growing across the path and causing damage in the form of raised ridges in the surface. This damage is particularly noticeable on road bikes and bikes with small wheels, it is quite uncomfortable and there is a risk of falling off. We decided to bring the damage to the attention of WelHat council by measuring it and plotting its locations.

We designed and constructed a device we christened the “rootometer”

Plywood caliper for measuring root damage.

Armed with the rootometer and the excellent route tracking app RideWithGPS we biked and scootered along the Alban Way, stopping at every bit of root damage and recording it. We recorded the route in RideWithGPS, measured the height of each defect and photographed the rootometer showing the reading. The photos appear on the recorded route in their correct locations.

Later we transferred the data to a spreadsheet, a fairly manual and time consuming process.

The two routes and their and photographs can be seen here (and see notes below):

The spreadsheet is here in either .ods format for LibreOffice/OpenOffice, or .xlsx for MSOffice (see notes below):  [for .ods] [for .xlsx]

We will pass this data to Welwyn Hatfield Borough Council and hopefully they will start repairing the damage and returning the Alban Way to its previous superb surface.


RideWithGPS routes

To use the RideWithGPS routes, open the route in a browser then click on MAPS at top right and select OSM which gives better information than the standard map.

Each of the small black squares shows the location of a photograph. Expand the map to select photographs that are very close together. Click on a black square and the corresponding photo appears at left. Or cycle through the photos at left and a blue dot appears on the route at the location. Each photo has an identifier which identifies the data in the spreadsheet. The identifier appears when you put your mouse over the photo.

Spreadsheet data

Defects are coloured red for 20mm high or more, amber for 10mm to less than 20mm or green for less than 10mm.

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