Comment—Speeding cyclists and pedestrians

Published: Friday, 23 July 2010

WITH the advent of a speeding commuting cyclist hitting one our our columnists whilst working a lock, the danger of the mix of cyclists and pedestrians has been highlighted once again.

In narrowboatworld today, an ex policeman, well acquainted with the dangers of such a mix of cyclists and pedestrians, openly condemned the powers-that-be for not only allowing, but encouraging the use of the narrow towpaths as cycleways.

Incompatible with safety

Frank Hurst stated what many boaters—us most certainly included—believe, that the growth of cycling in his opinion is incompatible with safety, as it is as dangerous to mix cyclists and pedestrians as it is to mix pedestrians and motorists.

He goes on to relate, also what many believe, that on a matter of health and safety, putting pedestrians and cyclists in a confined linear space such as a towpath is mind numbingly stupid and dangerous.

Drastically wrong

That pedestrians have shown their apprehension of the dangers of speeding cyclists on towpaths has been completely overlooked by British Waterways, and yet the fact that five years ago British Waterways told us there were 400 million visits to the waterways, which had plummeted to 300 million this year,  must surely show even the most gullible that something is wrong—drastically wrong.

This notwithstanding it multi thousand pound It's an everyday get away campaign to get more pedestrians to the towpaths, which was a dismal—and expensive—failure.

More and more afraid

What is wrong is that many pedestrians are obviously becoming more and more afraid of the ever increasing number of speeding cyclists, as more and more towpaths are upgraded for their special use.

Yet we suffer the continued propaganda from such as Jason Leach, British Waterways Regeneration Manager who would have us believe:

"Towpath improvements are now carefully targeted toward creating multi-user routes linking urban centres to rural destinations. They bring in increased footfall and visitor spend, while contributing toward the core vision of doubling waterway visitor numbers by 2012."

Absolutely crazy

That is absolutely crazy, for there is no chance whatsoever of  'increased footfall',  British Waterways' own statistics show that. And 'doubling the number of visits in two years', is  an outrageous  statement to make. Towpath improvements, the new disguise for cycle tracks, will most certainly have the opposite effect.  Their ever increasing spread should be curtailed, Sustrans not withstanding, before cyclists are the only users of the urban high speed towpaths.

Tom Crossley