Cycling and safety on the towpath

We received this email recently

I was wondering if there are any plans to control the increasing number of cyclists using the canal towpath. I’m not against cyclists, I have a bicycle myself which I use to get to and from my boat and the shops etc. However, I have noticed the number of bikes on the K&A towpath seem to be increasing in numbers and speed. This last weekend, being a sunny bank holiday, brought all sorts of people to the canal. It got to the point it was almost impossible to walk along the towpath as bikes were approaching from all directions. It seems a number of cyclists expect pedestrians to jump out of their way rather than the cyclist take responsibility for slowing down and giving way. I’m concerned there is going to be some nasty injuries before long (if not already)… and not just people! I had to keep my dog tethered at all times this weekend for fear of him being tangled up in bicycle wheels. I believe some boaters’ pets have already fallen foul to cyclists.

I find it ironic that a system originally designed for all transport (boats, people and horses alike) to travel at no more than 4 miles per hour has now shifted priority to cyclists who don’t have to comply to any speed restrictions let alone be expected contribute to the maintenance of the canal paths despite being the biggest contributor to their deterioration. I’m curious to know if the problem is being addressed. s there a campaign or plans underway to control the speed and priorities of cyclists on the K&A?


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2 Responses to “Cycling and safety on the towpath”

  1. admin MonsterID Icon admin says:

    Reading between the lines it seems our correspondent is talking about consideration. Which works both ways.

    My main transport is a bike on the towpath. I notice that on a weekend the pedestrians are more aggressive and obstructive. Of course, a lot of the time it’s more about just not being aware but it’s easy enough to tell the difference and a lot of pedestrians are quite open about trying to be obstructive to cycles.

    Speed on a cycle can be intimidating, it is only considerate to move around walkers carefully and considerately. This can sometimes be in conflict with cycling to work.

    Generalisation won’t work. There are inconsiderate cyclists and inconsiderate walkers – they are all people and we all have to share a communal space such as the towpath.

    But if we’re on the subject…..

    The use of high power LED lights by commuter cyclists between October and March is often aggressive with no attempt to mitigate the dazzling of walkers or cyclists coming the other way. As a result I have bought myself a P7 ‘tactical’ torch and will have no hesitation in giving ‘like for like’. I used to stop cyclists and ask them to dip their lights – usually to be me with a mouthful of abuse or “I can’t” – pathetic. I realise that bright lights are important to road safety. On the towpath they are simply confrontational and aggressive.

  2. sib2332 MonsterID Icon sib2332 says:

    erm, as someone who lives on the canal (nr bathampton) and cycles to and from clifton each day i’m not sure i get your point ?

    you’re happy to use the towpath for your own benefit but you’re not happy for someone to cycle along it for leisure ?

    nimby-ism at its best !