Published: 10th June, 2011
by PETER GRUNER
LEADING figures from two of Islington’s most influential campaigning groups intervened on the side of walkers this week in the row over towpath cycling.
Gillian Comins, an Angel Association committee member, and Ian Shacklock, chairman of the Friends of Regent’s Canal, called on British Waterways to take action before someone “ends up in the canal”.
Ms Comins, 78, said she now avoids walking along the towpath close to her home at City Road Basin at commuter times for fear of being hit by a speeding cyclist.
She added: “Some cyclists are not only a danger to walkers but a danger to themselves. I met a young woman cyclist who injured her leg quite badly after colliding with a chap on a bike. The chap just said ‘Are you ok?’ and went on his way.”
Ms Comins works with police handing out British Waterways “two tings” campaign leaflets urging cyclists to ring their bell twice, slow down and give consideration to walkers.
At the same time she advises walkers to keep to the inside of the towpath and allow cyclists space to get by.
Ms Comins added: “We’ve had cyclists refuse to stop, even for the police, to receive a leaflet. They just ride on.”
Mr Shacklock, whose organisation meets regularly at the Canal Museum in King’s Cross, described how a cyclist collided with a boat owner near Danbury Street Bridge.
“The boat owner was slightly grazed but extremely shaken up,” said Mr Shacklock, himself a cyclist. “Although the cyclist was in the wrong there is a ramp at Danbury Bridge which allows cyclists to pick up speed and there are too many blind spots along the towpath.”
Mr Shacklock, who has regular meetings with British Waterways, is calling for measures which will slow cyclists down, including “kissing gates” and a safe road route diverting them away from the towpath.
He added: “Why should walkers continually have to look over their shoulder and worry about being knocked down when they take a stroll along the towpath?”
Ms Comins, who has lived in the area for 50 years, said the last time she felt safe walking on the towpath at any time of day was about ten years ago. “In those days it was mostly children or leisure cyclists who used the towpath rather than those coming and going to work,” she said.
“It’s not just walkers who are harassed. The joggers get fed up with continually having to move out of the way.”