Will Parry take notice now?

Published: Sunday, 27 August 2017

WITH an old law being unearthed to prosecute—and subsequently find guilty—a cyclist who was riding dangerously, will Canal & River Trust Chief Executive, Richard Parry, now alter his attitude towards speeding towpath cyclists? Asks Tom Crossley.

It was Ralph Freeman who first brought up the menace of the Strava cyclists on our towpaths (Racing on towpaths at 'average' of 19mph)—speeding as fast as they can to break their own speed records, or attempting to match faster cyclists, all speeds recorded by the American company Strava.

Claim top speed rights

There are apps to run on smartphones which connect via the internet to Strava that record the time to allow the cyclists to then post these times and compare it to other riders to claim top speed rights for a particular route. And there are plenty of them using the upgraded towpaths. On one towpath over 1,000 attempts were recorded by cyclists attempting to better a speed record.

At a Press Briefing held by Richard Parry at Hatton, I pointed out to him the real dangers of these cyclists racing along our towpaths that are shared by children, the infirm and pets, and his answer was that they would 'educate them'.

This 'education' took the form of leaflets given out, notices painted on the towpath asking cyclists to 'drop their speed' and suchlike, but the time trials are still taking place, with one bragging of reaching 28mph on the Grand Union towpath. Such people, known as 'Lycra Louts' will not 'drop their speed' but yell at anyone getting in their way, with already narrowboatworld reporting people and animals being badly hurt.

Time to take more drastic action

With this prosecution setting a precedent, such injured people can now report towpath incidents to the police, and it is not only the offending cyclist that can be prosecuted but those that allow such behaviour. It really is time to take more drastic action to enforce the already existing speed limit, with signs stating the limit and to use the Strava records that show the limit is broken, to prosecute. 

More effective limits to speed must be installed, especially where the towpaths are in greater use as in city centres and the like.  After all, with CaRT stating there are 440 million visits to its towpaths every year, equalling 628 every mile every day, there really is not space for any racing cyclists.

Should take warning

These Strava cyclists too must take warning, for should they injure a pedestrian by 'wanton or furious driving or racing, or other wilful misconduct' causing bodily harm it could result in up to two years in prison and/or a hefty fine.

We can but hope that it will result in safer towpaths, for they are certainly not at the moment.