More towpath cycling items – from the local Labour party

The following are items on canal cycling from Westminster North Labour Party’s October 2015 Newsletter:

Regent’s Canal cycling – what you say

“I do think cyclists should not be allowed to cycle there at all. The towpath is narrow and there is always the danger of the pedestrians especially those with children being startled and knocked into the canal!”

“Westminster should do much more to encourage cycling, including on the canal tow path. If you can get a broader demographic cycling speeds would be lower, and hence safer for all; not just youngish men in Lycra.”

“As a cyclist and a walker, I understand the issue from both sides. The problem is often due to the width of the pathway, which is very narrow in places. In my opinion, TFL and the Mayor missed a huge opportunity when planning the London cycle superhighway, in not considering the canal network as the best place to run this. All the canal paths desperately need upgrading. The fact that there are several points where the path ends, forcing users back onto busy, polluted roads is also a major problem. In the short term, it’s clear cyclist users and walkers need educating. Aggressive riding and failure to use their bells is commonplace. But from a cyclist’s point of view, pedestrians are often ignorant too, refusing to move out of the way, even with a gentle bell-ringing warning. One short term solution could be a clear demarcation of a cycle lane, where this is possible, and much better signage, informing users to be aware of the mixed-use nature of the canal.

In the long term, a massive upgrade to the canal paths would be of huge and lasting benefit to all of London, providing a safe, clean and fast cross-London route that would prevent accidents and also allow traffic to flow more smoothly, bringing economic and health benefits.”

Little Venice canal path – what you say

“I can add my voice to those who have experienced aggressive cyclists on the Little Venice canal path. I had a cyclist actually swear at me and my 3 young children to get out of the way as they passed at high speed under the bridge beside the Browning pool. I noted that there are signs on the walls that say that pedestrians have priority but I think it is necessary to actually paint them on the pavement to make it more obvious to those who might actually just be ignorant and not intentionally delinquent. “

“I don’t normally respond to your emails – but in this case I really want to underline the issue raised by one of your correspondents – the bit about cyclists on the canal towpath. A few do ring their bells when they come up behind you – but the majority think that a) they own the towpath and b) pedestrians are a nuisance. Anything that can be done – more sleeping policemen? – would be appreciated by those of us who use the towpath as a walkway”

“I would like to echo the concern expressed about cyclists on the canal path. I have seen a number of elderly people startled by a cyclist coming up behind them having to move quickly out of the way and not knowing whether to go toward the canal or into the greenery. The canal path being quite narrow at some points a fall into the canal could well happen. I am particularly concerned over the possibility that the canal path is going to be become integral to the plans to extend cycle routes in the city. If this happens then inevitably many cyclists will be attracted to the path and walkers will no longer be able to enjoy the rare pleasure of a quiet peaceful walk by the canal.”

Little Venice canal path

We have written to the Canal and River Trust about this issue:

“I often walk to work along the Little Venice canal path between Harrow Rd and Paddington. Despite clear signage that cycling is prohibited on the canal path, cyclists are a constant presence on the path. There is a wide and clearly signed cycle path next to the canal path (on the other side of some fencing) and yet they persist in cycling along a very narrow stretch which is supposed to be prioritised for pedestrians. I agree that cycle paths are important and encourage a healthy way of life, but it seems that pedestrians are starting to be affected more by the ‘anything goes’ attitude of many bike riders.”

Delamere Terrace cycling – what you say

“Whilst I take the point that it is not possible to cycle east along about 200m of Delamere Terrace because the road is one way gong west and this section of the canal no cycling, I think it is a mistake to mix pedestrian pavement and cycle tracks. There is always a minority of cyclists who travel very fast and very close to pedestrians. This also occurs and is much worse on the section from Delamere Terrace along the towpath to Paddington Station. I have been deliberately bumped into by impatient cyclists several times on this section, and one occasion I was carrying a months old baby in a baby-sling. It would be much better to segregate pedestrians and cyclists on both these sections with a cycle lane on the canal towpath and a contraflow cycle lane on the street along Delamere Terrace.”

“It is indeed uncongenial and risky because that bit is only for pedestrians, and he probably makes himself very unpopular if he cycles there: when the towpath reaches Westbourne Green eastbound the cycle route forks away from the towpath, which is no entry to cyclists here, The cycle route then proceeds over Westbourne Green for a short distance and ends at Delamere Terrace/Lord Hills Road.  Here you are theoretically supposed to walk your bike for 3 or 4 minutes eastwards until you may rejoin the towpath, past the bridge. A shared use path along Delamere Terrace for cyclists and pedestrians is something the London Cycling Campaign has been wanting for a long time.  I don’t see why it should be a problem – the cycle paths in Kensington Gardens and Hyde Park are all shared with pedestrians”

Delamere Terrace cycling – what you say

I feel I must speak up for those of us who cycle along the canalside pavement in Delamere Terrace. I am sure we are all aware that it is technically an offence, but it is really a question of harm: what harm are cyclists actually doing by cycling there? It is a very wide pavement and is little used by pedestrians, not surprisingly since there are no dwellings on that side of the road, and pedestrians have the alternatives of the pavement outside the flats and the canal towpath. Would your correspondent really prefer cyclists to cycle along the towpath, which is narrow and uneven, and obviously beside the canal? The risks would manifestly be greater. Since the towpath is a recognised cycle route, but that particular short section is very uncongenial and risky, it is not surprising that cyclists divert onto the broad, safe pavement of Delamere Terrace. Furthermore, WCC and TFL have created a cycle path alongside the canal, across Westbourne Green, which ends at the corner of Delamere Terrace and Lord Hills Road; it is obvious that any eastbound cyclist will proceed from there along the Delamere Terrace pavement, and that was clearly the intention when it was created: it is disingenuous to suppose otherwise. Live and let live is my advice, and if the cyclists ring their bells they are clearly trying to do the right thing.”

Delamere Road

We have asked the Council to investigate the following problem:

“I wonder if you could advise how I could ask you to investigate the cyclists to use the pavement on Delamere Road W2 on the canal side. Westminster Council and the police have confirmed that this is not a cycle route but there is no money to paint signs on the floor to make this clear. There is permanently but more so in the morning, a stream of cylists speeding down that road who feel that ringing there bell means you should move aside for them. Please could you let me know how to officially get you to take this up with Westminster Council as I have reached dead end after dead end.”


Towpath cycling items October 2015

A couple of weeks ago I published a letter from the Camden New Journal’s editor Tom Foot regarding towpath cycling.

Towpath cycling and its discontents should certainly be of main interest to the Camden New Journal because the canal runs just a few feet away from the newspaper’s offices in Camden Road.

The CNJ does publish quite a wide cross section of letters covering cyling in Camden, including the canal towpath and Hampstead heath etc, and quite a few of these I have kept over the years.

Following Tom Foot’s letter, two more items have come up, one from the venerable Lester May who has regularly made his views most clearly known on the menance of towpath cycling. The other is from Jon Guest, who has been the London Waterways Manager for years, both under British Waterways and now Canal & River Trust.

For the sake of continunity, Tom’s letter is published once again followed by May’s and Guest’s.


Tom Foot 8/10/2015

Lester May 15/10/2015

Lester May 15/10/2015


Jon Guest 23/10/15

No matter what Jon Guest claims, towpath cycling has not improved at all. If anything cyclists are determined to go even faster and the skills they demonstrate in London’s streets and on its pavements are very adeptly used on the city’s towpath.

Response to a towpath user

Here’s a response I wrote in relation to a major complaint I received from a towpath user who has been hit by, sworn at by cyclists. They inform me as a daily user of the towpath, they have seen and heard many other recurring incidents with pedestrians who try to explain the ‘Share the space, drop the pace’  concept only to get abused by cyclists. Major concerns re aggressive cyclists at pinch points such as the bridge below Camden locks and on the floating walkways around King’s Cross.

They say what should be a pleasant stroll along the canal towpath regularly turns into a stressful experience and asks why no one is policing the towpaths to stop these aggressive cyclists.

The person has contacted Canal & River Trust without satisfactory result and seems to think CRT dont care in the least.

The content of my response is as follows:

Dear Towpath User,

Thank you for your email.

I am not the right person to make a complaint I just manage my London Canal website as it says on the first page it is not affiliated to any canal or waterways authorities.

Canal & River Trust are the people to make complaints to (or perhaps even Camden and Islington council – the latter’s area covers the first bit of towpath from Muriel Street towards York Way.)

Unfortunately Canal & River Trust are not too interested in peoples’ concerns, I have been hit by cyclists three times since they were permitted to use the towpath. On one of these occasions (this was Brentford on a slightly wider section of towpath ironically!) I was told by the cyclist I should not be on the f**king towpath.

I don’t think cyclists should be allowed there are simply far too many aggressive cyclists to really make it work well. Canal & River Trust say they keep asking cyclists to be nicer and have recently made an emphasis on this saying if cyclists want to hurry along then find a different route.

Of course it does not work. Look at places such as Sturts Lock (on the other side of Islington tunnel) as well as those bends below Camden locks (the tunnel you mention) and the bridge under St Pancras railway lines, one finds that cyclists adopt speeds far in excess of the approach needed at these very tight, blind, spots. They don’t care about pedestrians, we are the last of their concerns.

Canal & River Trust has a ranger called Dick Vincent, yet I have never seen him patrolling the towpaths! Perhaps others have. He is supposed to be the one to deal with complaints and incidents but as I have found to my disappointment he is potentially just another bureaucratic deflection whose task seems to be ensuring complaints are subdued and forgotten as quickly as possible. When it comes to realising I have a disability they at Canal & River Trust apparently run faster than some of these cyclists!

Ironically Canal & River Trust get thousands in funding from the councils and Government, National Lottery, other organisations, to pay for the upkeep of the towpaths (which they clearly don’t upkeep too terribly well either) as long as full unlimited access is permitted to all users. Thus arises the magical concept of shared use walking/cycle routes. Works fairly well in parks and in the country where space is sufficiently wide enough both both to use the path comfortably. Not a canal towpath barely just a couple of feet wide in many places which is used as a major commuter route.

Schools have already complained about the massive abuses suffered by their pupils, Hannover Primary School in Noel Street has campaigned about towpath abuses in the past and clearly despite this cyclists still speed along and conduct abuses without care for children, the disabled, mums with small kids and the elderly or anyone else who is simply out for a quiet, gentle and convivial stroll along the canal.

Hannover Street is not the only school to have complained another in West London had a poster campaign detailing the abuses and accidents and stories of children hit by or swore at by cyclists. It placed campaign posters and drawings, paintings by its children along the towpath around Little Venice and Harrow Road. It was hoped that cyclists would read these and learn to abate their ways. It didn’t work. The cyclists keep on with their aggression and abuses.

I do know Canal & River Trust, I have alternative views on their stance and the use of towpaths by cyclists, but Canal & River trust will not listen they see me as some intrusion, but I do have a good reason to complain, after all as I have said I have a disability and the cyclists are at their most abusive in this respect.

Canal & River Trust (like its predecessor, British Waterways) just wants to bury its head, and of course John Guest, who is the London waterways manager, was the very same manager under British Waterways and in my view there has been barely any real, perceptible change, in the stance employed by the canal authority over the years when it comes to abusive cyclists.

John Guest wrote in the Camden New Journal recently, saying that his organisation did not “have the powers or resources to police” the towpaths or impose speed limits.

In my view if they, the Canal and River Trust do not have the powers or the resources and cyclists keep on with their aggressive ways, then NO cyclists should be allowed on the canal towpaths especially in the cities. It is as simple as that.

London Canals.

Towpath cyclists – be nicer!

I noticed this write-up from the Camden New Journal (9th October 2015 on page 9) that’s not available on the internet.

The newspaper’s editor Tom Foot reports the Canal & River Trust have appealed for towpath cyclists to be nicer to those who use the towpaths for walking along.

Clearly Canal & River Trust’s towpath ranger Dick Vincent is saying, if cyclists want to use the canal towpaths for speed, the towpath is definitely not the place for it. See the article below for his full quote.CNJ-8-10-2015