Towpath exclusive use of cyclists

Published: Monday, 27 February 2017

I was flicking through websites the other day, and came across one 'London Canals' that surprised me, writes Ray Watkins.

No, it wasn't the fact that 368 million people visited our canals last year. Assuming the system comprises of 2400 miles that is 153,333 for every mile, or 2948 per mile per week, or 421 per mile every day last year, perhaps I was cruising different canals, but I know this is a true figure because CaRT (rhymes with....) tells me so.


It wasn't even the fact that only 11 collisions [with cyclists] had been reported, after all, what would CaRT do about it. All they seem capable of doing efficiently is collecting our license fees which pay for the other visitors to the system. Nor was it the fact that only one collision led to an injury....I know these facts to be true because CaRT tell me so.

What really surprised me was the number of twitter feeds on this site complaining about cyclists. It would seem that just about everyone from children, to dog walkers, and families out for a nice level stroll in mostly idyllic surroundings share our (boaters) frustration at these Lycra clad louts who have an inbuilt impression that the towpaths are there for their exclusive use in whatever way they see fit, and to hell with everyone else.

Mooring rope caught

A few years ago, I accidentally (it really was accidental) caught my mooring rope in the spokes of said lout's wheel, and tipped him on to his posterior. I cannot relate the deep sense of joy this gave me.

I am about to pay CaRT just on £1000 for the privilege of using my boat for the ensuing 12 months, eight times the road tax I pay for my car to use the entire road system of the UK for the same length of time. Is it beyond the bounds of reason to expect CaRT to impose some sort of control on these self centred yobs and protect those who pay to use our waterways, and those who do not, but use it responsibly, i.e walkers, dog owners, and little children out with mum and dad.

Southern Oxford

Let all towpaths revert to the condition of those on the Southern Oxford. Great for walkers, terrible for cyclists, Incidentally, they would also be okay for towing boat with horses which was, after all what they were built for.