The Independent London Newspaper


Yellow-jersey cyclists are forcing elderly off towpath

Published: 8 June, 2012

• THE Tribune reports that the leader of Islington Council and the Commissioner of Transport for London agree that they are concerned that Regent’s Canal towpath could become dangerous for pedestrians owing to a huge increase expected in bicycle use, especially during the Olympic Games (Fears of ‘conflict’ with pedestrians as Olympic cyclists take over towpath, May 25).

I do not know the view of British Waterways.

Thirty years ago, cyclists had to have a licence to use the towpath and, indeed, access gates to the towpath were locked at dusk.

No one wants to stop the sensible use of canal towpaths by cyclists and all would be well were cyclists to respect pedestrians on the towpath.

Indeed, were cyclists to proceed at the speed of most Boris bikes then few would have concerns at all.

But the majority don’t cycle slowly or sensibly – many towpath cyclists seem to be trying for the yellow jersey.

Many elderly and vulnerable people have stopped using the towpath for they feel it is too dangerous.

And, be warned, should you even suggest to a passing cyclist that he, or she, should slow down or, indeed, give two rings on their bell (as British Waterways requires), one can stand by for a lesson in the use of old Anglo-Saxon words and a bout of intimidation.

Even police community safety officers seem unwilling to do anything about speeding cyclists on the towpath.

Pedestrians can’t speed up much but cyclists can, and should, slow down.

It’s a pity there are no longer horses towing barges and boats, as they would be king of the towpath, instead of cyclists.  

The only obvious way ahead is the relatively expensive business of cycle-calming measures.

That could be self-funding were there a hypothecated licence fee for cycle users. British Waterways should introduce a bye-law restricting the speed of cyclists.



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