Photo: Cruising past Windsor wearing a Pith Helmet (pic Sue NPXL)
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Peter and his wife, Liz, have been involved in the canals for over 40 years. He now has to give it all up. Why? Because CRT cannot come up with a proper solution to the speeding cyclist problem.
Liz, a wheelchair user, says she will not go on the towpath ever again it’s too dangerous.
Cyclists on the canal have become the one main pariah of boater and pedestrian alike.
This is a bit of an intractable problem since cyclists on towpaths aren't exactly new (speaking as a boater,pedestrian and cyclist). Going back to the old working boats, the way in which the boats were speeded on their way was by the use of a 'Lock Wheeler' who would ride between locks, and they didn't have a reputation for hanging about either! I don't know what the solution is but the problem as I see it is that CRT are obliged to try to make the towpaths disabled friendly which they do by improving the surface. If they improve the surface the speeds of cycles will increase much the same as if you clear a road of parked cars vehicle speeds will increase. To keep the speed of cycles down you'd need to revert to the old uneven towpaths suitable only for mountain bikes carefully ridden, but that will exclude the disabled. Anything you do to slow cycles (chicanes,speed bumps, etc) will also inconvenience wheelchair users. Ban cycles from the towpath and you ban the traditional lock wheeling. Like I said a bit of an intractable problem.John
You don't seem to have the whole story. Sustrans are in partnership with CRT to make cycle routes. A condition that Sustrans applies is that there are no speed restrictions to cycles. Susrans is cycle biased and this is not compatible with the towpath ethic. On the subject of lock wheelers of yesteryear the public were excluded from the towpath under law.
Even today towpaths are permitted access not a Right of way.
I think you are unnecessarily harsh on Sustrans, the following is a cut and paste from their website:-'Cyclists tend to be the fastest movers on these (shared) paths, but the paths aren’t suitable for high speeds so it’s important to keep cycling speed under control. Remember that they are for sharing, not for speeding. If you wish to travel quickly, train for fitness or record personal best times, this is better done on quiet roads.'I don't really see the purpose of a speed limit since who is going to police it? and how? CRT have no power or authority to impose fines all they can hand out are civil charges. Their staff have no power to request any details from cyclists or anyone else so identifying these speeders will not happen. Any solution needs to be self policing. What I would suggest would be when they improve these towpaths (do they really need to tarmac them?) they should fit a gravel trap every couple of hundred metres or so. Mobility scooters with their wide tyres would be unaffected and cyclists on mountain bikes with thicker tyres (which go slower anyway) would still be able to ride over them. Those lycra clad Tour de France trainers however on their road tyres would repeatedly come to a stop in them and would soon sicken of trying to race on towpaths (have you ever tried to pedal a road bike through gravel?)I get the impression (I could be wrong) that you'd rather ban cyclists from the towpaths but I see two problems with that. One is that you would be taking away a very safe and pleasant family outing from those families (I've seen a lot whilst travelling about) who have Mum, Dad and a couple of kids all riding sensibly and safely along the towpath doing no harm at all. Secondly if CRT want to ban cycles from the towpaths they are going to have to pay Sustrans a lot of money back since they have jointly financed many of the improvements.John
And the finance is part of the problem. The deal is that there are no restrictions to cycles. Which is at variance to what you are quoting.I do not wish to remove cyclists from the towpath, but let's not forget it is a towpath and has a function. Too often these cyclists are say to get off the cycle track. They don't all understand that it is not a right of way and it is a 'shared facility. If I and others are continually in their way then it is not suitable for cyclists.Yes there are family groups who enjoy a ride on the Towpath but there are also family groups who (not on bikes) are being intimidated by people who don't use the roads because it is dangerous but bring danger to the canals.Dead cats and dogs a regular occurrence injured pedestrians and yes even injured cyclists who crash into each other. In Stone a couple of years ago whilst walking with some friends on the towpath an elderly couple rode into us because we were on the very narrow path. The told us that it was a cycle path. They were riding mountain bikes. Either side of the narrow track was 6-8 feet of short grass, but no they were prepared to have a punch up rather than ride on the grass. Sorry I have no time for stupid people!
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