Ban canal towpaths from

Published: Wednesday, 09 June 2021

I SUGGEST a good starting point to dissuade cyclists speeding on towpaths might be to insist remove all canal towpath 'Time Trial' sites from its web site, writes Ralph Freeman.

So far CaRT have spent millions improving towpaths for the benefit of cyclists but to the detriment of all other users and wildlife too. I can't imagine a heron fishing from the towpath is too happy to have a cyclist come past at speed, whereas a boater chugging past at 3mph is more often than not ignored.

What is Strava?

For those of you not familiar with Strava here are a couple of examples of riders claiming 'King of the Mountain'(!) for posting the fastest time along a specific section of towpath. The Strava App, via GPS on a smartphone, monitors the location/speed/elapsed time to complete a specified section of towpath thereby creating a virtual time trial. (Virtual only in the sense that there is one competitor at that point in time).

Unfortunately the consequences of meeting a bike plus 14 stone rider hurtling around a blind bend at 40kph is anything but virtual!

Maximum speed 38.2km/h

Example 1—Whittington to Fradley 'Time Trial' on Strava. Time 18:41. Speed 28.8km/h average.  38.2km/h Max.  Bear in mind this is by and large an 'original' style towpath.

No Alpe d'Huez is it? (That is a classic mountain stage in the Tour de France. The road rises approximately 1110 metres in 14km!)

In comparison the Coventry Canal towpath probably varies by less than one metre along its length from Whittington to Fradley as there are no locks , so the water level is constant! How anyone can claim the 'King of the Mountain' for a flat towpath is beyond me. On that basis I could claim to be fastest runner on the 'Boston (Lincs) Three Peaks Race'!

Maximum speed 54km/h

Example 2—Kirkstall to Leeds (Called Towpath TT on Strava). Time 6.54. Speed 37.7 km/h average 54.0 km/h Maximum.

I am assuming from the max speed of 54 Kph (34 mph) this is one of CaRT's 'improved' towpaths ? So CaRT has spent shedloads of (boaters) money to allow 'Lycra Louts' to ride faster and be even more of a danger to all the other towpath users. Does anyone in 'Ivory Towers' do joined-up thinking or even listen to those that know i.e towpath dog walkers, hikers, fishermen and of course boaters?

So all those millions spent upgrading towpaths have just made made matters considerably worse. Well done indeed!

PR nonsense

CaRT is saying it is essential to allow cycling on towpaths from a fitness point of view. This of course is just PR nonsense.

Smart interactive trainerMaybe CaRT should sponsor the development and then sell an app that connects to a cycle trainer/emulator (which can be a set of rollers that fit under the rear wheel of their bike), so that people can ride a virtual towpath in their own back-yard and take part in a virtual time trial there? See attached photo.

Keep towpaths free

It would keep the cyclist fit, as the resistance felt can be varied to simulate a gradient or head wind and the rider would 'see' the canal towpath on a display in front of them, as they set a time for Strava. Most of all such an app would help to keep the towpath free from 'Lycra Louts'.

How about it CaRT? Here is a way to get cyclists to contribute to the upkeep of the canals they use, and in some cases, abuse and hopefully restore peace and tranquillity to the towpaths.