Trust's answer to speeding 'lycra louts'

June 2017 - Peter Underwood reports on the Canal & River Trust's latest attempts to reduce the number of collisions and injuries involving cyclists on our towpaths – ranging from cut-out ‘sleeping policeman’ to spray on signs urging people to slow down to two new videos.

The Canal & River Trust claims its towpaths are “fast becoming one of the nation’s favourite places to relax” but speeding cyclists, especially in urban areas are turning them into a nightmare for families, pet owners and tourists.

Unable to operate any registration scheme for cyclists that might allow proper rules to be enforced, especially in urban areas, the charity is reduced to urging people to slow down.

The Trust's own survey, as part of its Share the Space, Drop your Pace campaign, shows nearly a quarter (23 per cent) of people said their biggest bugbear in public places is when cyclists speed past them, but the best the charity can do is to remind people to watch their speed.

It claims 'With half of Brits (50 per cent) going out of their way to find a quieter/greener area to escape the hustle and bustle of main roads this will be welcome news to those who like life by the water'.

Throughout the summer the charity will spray messages on the towpath in the busiest areas to encourage people to ‘slow down and look around’ and that there’s ‘no need to rush, just relax’.

Then there will be 3D images of a sleeping policeman at certain points along the towpath encouraging people to drop their pace – described as 'a light-hearted nod to the physical speed measure often seen on roads'.

Dick Vincent, Canal & River Trust’s national towpath ranger, says: “Unfortunately, some people chose to go too fast when they are cycling or running on the towpaths and this is causing problems for other visitors, particularly during commuting hours.

“Pedestrian’s take priority on our towpaths so we’re asking people who cycle and run too fast to please slow down and take time to enjoy their towpath visit. If you are trying to beat the clock on an app or in a rush to get to work, the towpaths are not for you so choose another route.

C&RT claims that 'due to the heritage and environmental constraints and the need to make sure towpaths are easy for everyone to access, there are limited opportunities for the charity to add physical speed measures'

It goes on to claim that its survey showed that 73 per cent of people agreed that physical speed measures are either a bad idea (50 per cent) or should be used only as a last resort (23 per cent).

C&RT has persuaded a cyclist to reinforce kits message. Sam Jones of national charity and campaigning body Cycling UK, says: “I cycle to work every day along our towpaths and love nothing more than exploring our beautiful waterway routes. Travelling at a leisurely pace I can truly enjoy the beauty of the seasons along our banks and chat with others passing by from families to boaters moored up.

“I’d urge everyone to hop on their wheels and enjoy the tranquillity of the towpaths this summer, but don’t just rush through and miss it! It’s not a motorway, so if you find you’re travelling a little too fast around others, take it easy and then everyone can enjoy our canals equally.”

National towpath ranger Dick Vincent and the sleeping policeman will be on tour this summer visiting hot spots across England and Wales where people may need a reminder to travel slowly.

Photo: The new sleeping policeman concept from C&RT.

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