Sustrans generally a good idea

Published: Friday, 08 May 2020

FROM my experience (as a non practising cyclist—more a boater and walker!) the Sustrans link is generally good news, writes Mike Todd.

Sustrans bring with them cash which CaRT badly need. Before the days in which towpaths were promoted,
initially by local councils, for use by cyclists, many, if not most, were all but impassable.

Unable to follow your boat

Back in the 1960's it was unusual to be able to follow your boat on land with many stretches between locks having at least one part that was an obstruction.  I well recall this on the southern Oxford, only a decade ago.

Of course, these developments need careful control to ensure that mixed use really is maintained but perhaps readers have not seen the detailed design manual:

as well as a framework for shared use

Long term maintenance

No design standard will achieve its objectives if the effort is not put into long term maintenance and operation.

What is missing, and most complaints really fall into this category, is the creation of a well-understood and accepted behaviour for all users (boaters who stretch mooring ropes across accessible areas are as bad as those who cycle around locks or fishermen who take up long sections of well-signed visitor moorings).

It is highly unlikely that towpaths will ever be routinely policed (nor are our streets) and the only alternative would be the loss of the towpaths for any use, including that by boaters. The 'good old days' just were not that good!

Behaviour standards

Such behaviour standards can only be promoted with plenty of goodwill all round and the more that resentment by one group of another is promoted, however, gently, the more likely it is that some users will abuse others.

Covid-19 has often brought out the best of community relationships—let boaters welcome all users who keep within the bounds of well-mannered behaviour.

Putting up the shutters just does not cut the mustard!