End to cyclist hostilities

Published: Wednesday, 08 June 2011

ONE of the country's prominent transport commentators has called for an end to towpath 'hostilities' between cyclists and walkers, particularly on the Regent's Canal towpath.

Christian Wolmar is asking cyclists riding along the Regent's Canal towpath to slow down as they approach walkers, and is further asking that signs be installed reminding cyclists to ring their bells when they overtake people on foot.

Outright ban

He maintained that he is not in favour of the outright ban on cyclists from the towpath that has been gaining appeal, particularly in Islington, stating that walkers must not assume they are the only ones with the right to be there.

Christian is a leading figure on the board of Cycling England and the Islington Cycling Action Group, and visited the Regent's Canal Towpath at the invitation of walkers' groups, to see the situation for himself from their point of view. The picture shows mothers objecting to the danger  from cyclists on the Regent's Canal towpath


His statement after his walk was:

"Now I've taken a stroll during peak commuting times my sympathies are with the walkers. There is nothing more terrifying and anger inducing than a person on a large bike charging towards you expecting you to move out of the way.

"Cyclists should not cycle aggressively. We've seen one or two people today pumping iron. The towpath is not for speed and it's not a highway. It's a calm, pleasant, relaxed and safe environment for all but it has to be used responsibly."

Christian cycled to the towpath, chaining his bike, but when he returned it had been stolen!

Like a race track

In April this year, as reported in Narrowboatworld, the Green Party's candidate for London Mayor, Jenny Jones, also complained about cyclists who use the canal towpaths  'like a race track with complete disregard for people who walk'. And was appalled by the behaviour of  cyclists on towpaths.

A spokesman for British Waterways pointed out that it had a ‘two tings' campaign which reminds cyclists to ring their bell before passing, and that there were volunteers overseeing the  towpath activity.