Cyclists used to try and prevent towpath repair

In 2011, Sustrans, the council, Don Foster MP, and the Canal & River Trust came together and agreed that the state of the Kennet and Avon Towpath between Sydney Gardens and Bathampton was in such a poor state that funding would be found to upgrade the towpath to a 4 season surface that would last for 15+years.

£135k was found in the council budget and Sustrans had reserved £315k of their core funds for the project. Then in 2012, the UK experienced extreme flooding and the government cut Sustrans core funding to support the development of flood defences.

In 2014 the CRT wrote a planning objection letter to the redevelopment of the Warminster Road MOD site demanding £315k towards maintenance of the towpath as the new bridge across to the towpath would increase footfall on an already busy towpath that was suffering from severe erosion.

In January 2015, the council bid and won Cycle City Ambition Grant money to finally do the repair under the CRT’s new “Better Towpaths for Everyone” policy. A national policy to bring ALL 2000 miles of towpaths up to a better standard through a three pronged approach:

  1. Better infrastructure :- Widening all towpaths (where necessary) and upgrading to 4 season surfaces usable all year round.
  2. Better signage :- Clear and prominent shared use signs to be installed across the country where there are concerns raised by local users.
  3. Better behaviour :- A range of initiatives to encourage considerate use of towpaths. These include the CRT’s “Share the space, drop your pace” campaign and the recently developed towpath code of conduct.

There are some people in the community that do not want this repair to go ahead and have started a shock campaign around the idea that the repair will allow cyclists to cycle even faster along the towpath using a rather horrible picture from an inexcusable hit and run incident on a towpath up on the Wigan canal. They want this upgrade stopped at all costs. They like it the way it is as it slowly becomes unusable to all but the most determined users over years to come.

In April 2013, the Two Tunnels opened and the number of people using the towpath shot through the roof. The phenomenal success of the TT as a world famous cycle/walking route has contributed massively to the further erosion of the towpath and significantly increased the amount of people on the towpath. The map on the Visit Bath tourist information site, the available maps from Sustrans, and even the Somerset Coal Company all promote the 13 mile Two Tunnels circuit as a fantastic cycling and walking route.

It is telling that in a recent traffic survey on the towpath on a Wednesday between 7am and 7pm, around 500ish people walking and 600ish people cycling were counted. It is very much promoted as something to do if you are coming to Bath but nobody promotes safe sharing and being considerate.

If I want to ride on the towpath, I just grab a suitable bike that can handle the poor state and ride at whatever speed I want. What I choose to do is use my bell a lot, slow down when passing walkers, wish them a good day as I pass, and just be a considerate user.

If I’m on a bike that does not handle the path surface well, then usually there is one 30cm wide “desire line” that most bikes want to take as it’s the “smoothest”, avoids puddles (which may contain unseen nasty surprises) and stops me getting wet. You then get very poor interactions with cyclists passing too close or splashing people as they ride by.

Repairing the path and making the full 2.5m width usable all year round will enable people to pass and interact with each other better. It will let people wheel pushchairs and wheelchairs on it comfortably. It will make it accessible to ALL.

Kennet and Avon Canal near Sydney Gardens after one heavy rainfall.
Kennet and Avon Canal near Sydney Gardens after one heavy rainfall.

What repairing won’t do is stop bad users, although it should lessen their impact. This is where the shared use signage along the route will help. This is where ensuring all places that promote the towpath as part of a route map also promote the towpath code of conduct.

This all takes money. A LOT OF MONEY. £675k that must be spent this year or handed back to central government next March.

This is a one off opportunity to bring this section of the towpath and the connection to Larkhall up to an all year round usable space. The council is looking for savings of £38M from its budget this year and expect similar squeezes on future budgets. Don’t expect any money to do anything on the towpath for at least 8+ years.

So please get involved with the consultation and attend the public exhibitions:

  • Bathampton Village Hall – Friday 28th August from 2.00pm till 8.00pm
  • Oriel Hall, Larkhall – Saturday 29th August from 11.00am till 5.00pm

Go as a cyclist, as a walker, as a boater, as a considerate user and suggest improvements. If you had £675k to spend on the towpath and connection to Larkhall, how could you make it better? How could you tweak it. Try and see through those people spreading FUD (Fear, Uncertainty, and Doubt). If you get the chance, ride the towpath before attending an exhibition.

I will be going and suggesting:

  1. Lighting on the ramp connection to Larkhall.
  2. Reestablishment of the ancient hedgerow on the ramp that has been left to grow into young trees to reduce leaf fall on the ramp and make it less dark. As suggested by the gardener of the plots on the ramp at the Larkhall meeting.
  3. Beckford Road end should ensure good surface connecting to footpath to Bathwick St Mary’s school.
  4. Good sloped surface connection to Hampton Row Footbridge.
  5. The footpath from Grosvenor Bridge up to towpath (not the ramp) to also be made 4 season.
  6. The ramp to Hampton Row footbridge path to be made 4 season.
  7. The Meadow Lane Canal Bridge to have a bypass to encourage cyclists to not use the underpass.

    Desire line for cycling is not under the bridge but next to it.
    Desire line for cycling is not under the bridge but next to it.
  8. Investigate access to towpath from the rear of the George Pub car park.

A similar scheme in Bridgewater took a path from this:unnamed (2)

to this:

unnamed (3)

Finally, let’s be honest. Shared space sucks. Using CCAG money to improve a towpath I believe is wrong. It’s a shared leisure space and it usually is an indirect and slow route to get from A to B. CCAG money should be used to develop on-road cycle tracks (physically protected cycle lanes).

In BaNES about 40,000 people ride a bike at least once per month. That’s 1 in 5 people. We cannot keep trying to push people onto shared paths. We cannot keep going to PACT meetings dominated by people demanding to know what the police are doing about pavement cycling.

YOU need to ask your councillors to ensure their council officers are taking cycling seriously and are creating safe child friendly on-road cycle tracks. The simplest thing is to ask your councillor to have the council use the  Welsh Active Travel Cycling and Walking audit tools when delivering a scheme. Get the officers thinking about cycling. Get them recognising that they are pushing people onto over-used shared paths. That they are forcing people to cycle illegally on pavements because people do not want to share space with HGVs and they definitely do not want to have children cycling with HGVs. Email them now and ask them to have a cycling and walking audit done as part of any new scheme in the pipeline.

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37 thoughts on “Cyclists used to try and prevent towpath repair”

  1. Bikes on towpaths are invariably challenging to those on foot and over the years I have been lucky to escape serious injury from the more irresponsible cyclists… Hard surface send the message this is a highway and facilitates increased speeds – and it will be acknowledged as having been procured by/for cyclists… The traditional leisurely environment of the canal towpath will become the speeded up domain of the wheeled rather than the walking… Exactly why cyclists don`t like roads – too fast! Too dangerous! What of the friendly towpath community where kids can play and folk chat… The run-off from tarmac-sealed paths is also polluting – right next to a waterway… And how long before the opportunistic car driver decides they can just fit on certain bits of path too…

    1. I understand that viewpoint, but this is being done under the CRT’s National “Better Towpaths for Everyone” policy. All 2000 miles of towpaths will be brought up to a 4 season standard. Wheelchair and pushchair users have significantly more to gain from this. If this money had come from a disability fund then I don’t believe so much FUD about bad users of the path would be being pushed. What if the CRT had succeeded in getting the money they wanted from the developers in 2014? These repairs have been wanted for many years.

      1. CRT’s National “Better Towpaths for Everyone” policy might say that in name but is not about every one in reality its about road bikes getting faster speeds. What is the evidence based research done on this issue?

      2. There is a lot of evidence on towpaths up and down the country that the CRT’s Code of Conduct cannot be enforced and the problem is exacerbated by ‘upgraded’ surfaces. What more, in your opinion Adam, can be done to ensure the safety of all users?

      3. I feel the signs the CRT are using are poor. “Pedestrian Priority” means bugger all. I honestly think people need obvious signs like this or

        I also think maybe even the slow down flashing signs could be used for people riding over an acceptable speed.

  2. As soon as you make the surface even the 20% of cyclists (normally in matching lycra) will be racing. The only prevention is an uneven surface. You only have to look at the linear way to see this in action. When they carried out a post finish survey on the 2 tunnels the surveyor told me he had be hit almost 5 times that day by errant cyclists. He advised sustrans were not interested. Ask any jogger or dog walker they will confirm this is the norm.
    The share the path signs are extremely poor how about putting some wireless webcams up to monitor instead of ignoring the issue, at the bottom of the slopes.

    1. The issue is not the surface. Inconsiderate cyclists can go fast on rough and uneven surfaces. The path should be made wider (I would go for 4 metres rather than the proposed 2.5 metres) and signs must be put up emphasising that it is a shared path and that pedestrians have priority. At the same time the council should be urgently seeking funding for a proper cycle road, segregated from the canal path, to meet the induced demand from cycling, because there is a limit to how much traffic the tow path can support in the long term.

      1. This, this more than anything. However the CRT will not entertain widening beyond what is already there although I think the section between the ramp and Beckford Road will be the most heavily used and could be made wider than the rest of it. We need to give people better on-road options, particularly along London Road so they do not feel they need to seek out the towpath to cycle into the city.

      2. I am concerned that, should the resurfacing be funded by the City Cycle Ambition Grant, it will be considered that Bath has fulfilled its requirement to provide a safe cycle route into the city centre and therefore pressure is taken off the council to do something about making the London Road safer for cyclists.

        I agree that there is a limit to how much traffic the towpath can support in the long term. It is not possible for the towpath to be 4 metres wide. There is also the question of maintaining a wildlife corridor along the length of the canal which, thankfully, the CRT say they want.

        The objective of the City Cycle Ambition Grant is to increase cycling which seems to be at odds with the CRT objective “Better Towpaths for Everyone”. To increase cycling on the towpath will not make it better for pedestrians. There is already conflict at times when the towpath is busy. The Code of Conduct is not enforceable as it stands.

        Safety on roads is not left to the goodwill of drivers. It is backed up by the law.There are no speed limits for cyclists on the canal (unlike for boats). Nor are ‘Cyclist Dismount’ signs enforceable:

        http://www.trafficsignsandmeanings.co.uk/cyclist-dismount-sign-compulsory-get-off.html

        There needs to be a way of making it work. It doesn’t yet.

      3. I’m pushing the use of the Cycle and Walking Audit tools at a council level to get them thinking about segregating cycle and walking.

        The CCAG objective of getting more people cycling pretty much went out the window when all the money was thrown at repairing the towpath. The secondary objective of improving the public realm for walking and cycling kicked in.

        Basically poor transport policy where, since the 1950s, cycling was seen as something to eradicate from the road network has created pressure onto any traffic free corridor.

        We need to push for London Road and the A36 to become more cycle friendly to remove traffic from the towpath. If that is not possible then parallel routes should be considered or, unfortunately, widening in the high use areas as the towpath design guidance suggests.

  3. Tarmac surfaces are bad for the human anatomy when on foot- runners especially. They make a bike ride much smoother, so better for a biker’s anatomy. They are much easier for push chairs and disability vehicles, so get people out and about more.
    So far, so complex.
    Tarmac itself: I find them ugly on the eye, and it is true that asphalt is a bad pollutant. Plus, it’ll take a long time for the work to be done. Moreover, all that smooth surface will deteriorate within a couple of years and have to be re-done repeatedly.

    Improving the surface is full of details that need to be considered. That is what I am doing now-considering. So should we all: understand as much as we can and not jump to ‘pat’ conclusions, and then accept that any solution will be imperfect.

    1. I’ve added a couple of images to the article showing the Bridgewater repair. I believe it will be a bonded gravel surface. So not smooth. CRT has stated it will not be a tarmac surface.

      1. That is good news about the surface. I must check how bonded gravel is for runners- I expect it will be fine as it must have some ‘give’ in it.
        Where did you say the images are?

    2. I’m not convinced by these arguments against hard surfaces, just having returned from that small overcrowded neighbour The Netherlands, which seems to cope fine. What they do however is make their shared paths exceedingly wide, and overwhelmingly provide separate, segregated infrastructure so the cycle roads, walking paths, and bridleways are all provided rather than lumped together. What you have also not mentioned is how runners can be threatening to vulnerable walkers. Again, this seems to be a UK problem because we make our paths so stupidly narrow.

    3. Read my post (aside from the typos!) The big problem with the towpath is not cycles but access for motor vehicles which some claim to be ‘essential’ and detailing on how water is handled, as drainage.

      I was involved in the 1985 upgrading of the surface, using a minimal import of material, and most of the work involved making the path surface well drained and with a smooth profile. In 10 years of building paths largely with local material (and minimal overspill beyond the path wayleave by construction activity) we developed some very useful techniques that turned out paths with close control on the cross sectional profile (no crossfall steeper than 1:40 – just try anything steeper in a wheelchair!) keeping gradients as close to 1:20 as possible, and surface flatness generally better than a 10mm gap over a 3m straight edge.

  4. Have just read the Sustrans info on surfaces, which includes pic and so I see what it is like. The appearance is fine and the impact on runners’ bodies less for sure. It seems bonded gravel is usually bitumen based, so does not answer the issue of environmental run-off.
    I will attend the consultation exhibition this weekend to find out a lot more.

  5. Real shame that money that was planned specifically to improve cycling is being used to assist others and then the other users get in uproar about it. I have no interest in using a 2.5 meter path when there’s a perfectly good road near by. Average speed on the path for me, being considerate for others, 10mph. On the road, 24mph. Think I’ll stick to the road, even if the path is improved.

    As much as I’d love to see an improve path for others, if others don’t want it… I’ll stick to London Road with a grimace and bare with it. Tory BANES have done well here to paint cyclists as being bad and increasing conflict, and hostility, between different road/path users.

    1. This really is not a tory issue but a council Highways issue who do not take cycling seriously. The councillors need to push the audit tools into the council departments. They can then ask “Why have you come up with a design which only has a cycle audit score of 14 out of 50? How do we achieve at least 35 out of 50?”. Councillors do not need to understand how to design cycling into public realm schemes, but they can ensure the officers do 🙂

      Of note it’s a poor use of cycling money as the only bit that helped create a better network (the connection from Larkhall to the Towpath) was already budgeted for this year. We came up with a better clever use of the money to connect Batheaston, Bathampton, Larkhall, Snow Hill and Bathwick into the heart of the city safe enough for kids to use. https://cyclebath.org.uk/ccag-bath-east/

    2. They are not in an ‘uproar’ about about the towpath being improved. They are concerned about the likely increase of cycles on the towpath, which, after all, is the stated objective of the City Cycle Ambition Grant. Also the likely increase of speeding cyclists.

      They are concerned that the Canal and River Trust Code of Conduct is not enforceable, as demonstrated on many other towpaths across the country where there has been an increase in accidents and near misses.

      They are concerned about the reporting of accidents and near misses which is a difficult and cumbersome process, unlike workplaces where the management is accountable to the Health and Safety Executive.

      They would like to have an extensive and thorough consultation to make sure that the best surface is used, not only for the safety of all, but also the environmental impact and the impact on wildlife.

      None of this to me is unreasonable.

      1. This was done as part of the “Better Towpaths for Everyone” national policy. https://canalrivertrust.org.uk/media/library/8535-national-towpath-policy.pdf

        With the supporting Towpath design guidance:
        https://canalrivertrust.org.uk/media/library/1728.pdf

        The K&A is as unique as ALL other 3000km of the UK towpaths and the CRT get that.

        They consulted the public and the following organisations developing the policy over the last year:
        Angling Trust
        Association of Inland Navigation Authorities
        Association of Pleasure Craft Operators
        Association of Waterways Cruising Clubs
        British Canoeing
        British Cycling
        British Horse Society
        British Marine Federation
        CTC the national cycling charity
        The Inland Waterways Association
        Living Streets
        National Association of Boat Owners
        The Ramblers
        Residential Boat Owners’ Association
        Sustrans

        The CRT know exactly what they are doing to protect the heritage of the canal. You may not like it but that really is not something I can help you with other than keep pointing you at this national policy which is being applied to ALL 3000kms of towpath.

  6. As an arthritic runner who normally avoids hard surfaces I would prefer the existing surface. On the other hand the towpath puddles in the winter make running difficult, unpleasant and even dangerous. I have twice slipped over on the grass trying to avoid miniature lakes.

    But wearing my cycling helmet, I think Adam has a good point about puddle avoidance making cyclists more erratic. I have just returned from a ride on the towpath during which I had difficulty avoiding a slow, meandering cyclist in front who didn’t want to get his rims moist.

    Although the average towpath width is supposed to be 2.5 metres, in places, e.g. between Grosvenor and the RHS cottage near the Warminster Rd bridge, it is much wider. So a good compromise might be to leave a band of grass wherever possible to act as a refuge for pedestrians and a stretch of temporary relief clapped out runners.

    1. It would be better to use resurface the towpath with crushed stone as the CRT did on the Llangollen Canal (laid three years ago with no sign of wear or tear, despite heavy use by pedestrians, cyclists and shire horses).

      Crushed stone is better for runners, good environmentally and aesthetically pleasing. The Llangollen Canal has World Heritage Status. Crushed stone was approved by both Sustrans and the CRT.

      Much more economical (the 2.4 mile section cost £280,000).

      Much less time to complete (6 weeks for this stretch)

      http://llanblogger.blogspot.co.uk/2014/03/work-starts-on-canal-towpath-facelift_7.html?m=1

  7. I’ve recently got into walking and have done the Bath to Bristol Railway path, the two tunnels, a variety of routes around Kelston Round Hill, etc, etc, and having ended up on the towpath on a variety of occasions, have found the quality of it’s surface, say, roughly between the end of parallel to Hampton Row, to Dundas Viaduct (Shall attempt Bradford-On-Avon sooner or later, don’t judge!), to be poor, you really feel every stone being outraged by your feet. Also, the narrowness is hazardous at certain points. I’m all for the upgrades, the compact gravel, or what ever it is, looks like a great option.
    And I say that as somebody who hates cyclists.
    Some cyclists.
    And some walkers.
    You’ll probably find that the cyclists and the walkers with the bad attitudes, and the path-hogging habits, are also bad motorists, I would hazard.
    I also don’t think that speed is the killer, it is thoughtlessness, ineptitude, and obliviousness to ones surroundings.
    I usually keep in to the left side of whichever way I’m going, just to keep things simple, and try at least to give a look of friendly acknowledgment to passers-by (Difficult with my face, passers-by flee).
    Sometimes if I am by myself, I’ll have my headphones on listening to music, but as I don’t wander about like a medicated halfwit, thus far, this has caused no issues.
    That being said, I’m not of the view that bells being sounded are essential, but that doesn’t mean that they are not an unappreciated courtesy, I’m sure, when it isn’t being done in an obnoxious manner, and sometimes even the best of us may wander a bit off the side on sunny days.One guy used a whistle on me once, it wasn’t pleasant.
    As a walker, one bad walker move, is the dog walker letting their beloved pet wander all over the place, especially when attached to an extendable lead. I love dogs, they should be allowed on shared paths, on the other hand, idiots should have their feet placed in concrete blocks and thrown in the Avon, thus promoting a longer and healthier life for the pets of idiots.
    I bear in mind that a lot has been done for the sake of enjoyable strolling as a result of actions of cycling organisations, so not all of them are bad 😉

  8. Foe 10 years I built paths with Sustrans and my first work was on the upgrading of the K&A Canal towpath in 1985. Most of the paths I built were in drybound macadam graded stone, or locally sourced (to reduce transport costs & impact) materials.

    ALL work on canal towpaths presents a challenge to those whose ‘normal’ path and road building has access for typical construction plant and the space it demands, and the community programme deal creating 6 month packages of work to fudge the unemployment figures, delivered a massive programme which trained and motivated hundreds of people building many paths in the 1980’s, and re-learning how to build and maintain drybound macadam – as you could build 5 times as much path on the VERY limited budgets available.

    There is nothing wrong with a well constructed drybound road. Much of Africa’s roads network is not covered by a ‘sealed’ tarmac surface, and some roads are even build from hard packed local sand. I have a soft spot for one path in Scotland which we built by removing 100+ year’s-worth of leaf mould and tree growth from a road which had been recorded on maps nearly 400 years earlier, and resurfacing it with a water assisted rolling of a layer of fine stone and cementatious dust to regulate and provide a smooth and hard running surface, which was almost impossible to get on to with any motor vehicle.

    And there’s the problem. The pictures of the damaged canal towpath show all the classic signs – 2 rows of potholes that line up with exactly where the path has been run over by motor vehicles – running on tyres with sipes cut into them to force water out from the contact patch – that ‘essential’ van for the path rangers – something we made great effort to BAN from using any drybound paths, and especially in wet weather, when the forces if the water being squeezed over the path surface flushed away the fine material binding it together in a progressive and accelerating process of destruction. I’ve had paths in Scotland built to drain properly, with surface flatness that minimised the ability to form puddles, which have lasted 15 years and still looked and rode as smooth as the day they were built. It was, to the trained eye, immediately obvious if even one motor vehicle had run over the surface by the tiny clues in the damage that had taken place.

    Most African drivers recognise the way that driving techniques have to be very different using their low cost drybound road surfaces, with many European drivers coming to grief as they speed along with the plume of rust thrown up behind – that plume is the evidence of the fluidised film of the dust that binds the road together and the driver’s vehicle is doing the equivalent of aquaplaning, or travelling on a film of sheet ice – the outcome is obvious, whenever the vehicle approaches a bend, or need to brake.

    The canal towpaths can be delivered – potentially by the simple re-working of the materials on site and a limited import of an inert, fine material to deliver the regulating and binding layer for the running surface. That path profile should
    1) be graded to a crossfall and longitudinal profile that eliminates water running over the surface at speeds which scour away fine material
    2) have a profile above the supporting ground such that no water can lie on the path, but drain freely into the verges – timber and concrete edging is anathema to delivery of this detail, and can triple the construction costs, as well as construction time – this is a key detail when building along a canal where the logistics of bringing material and plant in and can rapidly ramp up costs
    3) a rigorous BAN on the profligate use of large tyred motor vehicles on the path, especially when the surfaces are wet to prevent the damage shown in your photographs from even starting. It is very telling that in forests, where the roads are built with local materials, a year of use by 40Ton timber forwarders driven appropriately at less than 15mph, does less damage than a day of motor rallying at silly speeds, with show-off driving to the limit.
    4) engagement with path users and volunteers to maintain drainage (and making the drains big enough to clean easily/not block with the first fall of leaves), and patch up local damage (with dry-bound paths repairs are easy to deliver as no hot, or wet processes are involved, just a source of repair materials with a shovel and a rake – typically delivered by a bike & trailer with 1 person.

    To address the speed issue there needs to be some intelligent use of horizontal deflection, especially at bridges and junctions, creating path alignments that require users to slow down whilst giving clear advance guidance to avoid an obstruction (bollards, gates and chains have caused serious injury and even death through failure to deliver a safe design and path markings), and good forward visibility, even if the path winds around an arrangement of stones or mounded earth. An occasional and random purge, of warden (volunteers) all in contact along a stretch of path, cautioning and stopping those travelling at inappropriate speeds, would be a way to start clamping down. A speeding rider would be repeatedly pulled up, and if the exercise was recorded, the regular ‘offenders’ would then be identified and a more focussed regime developed to manage or even exclude them (using an ASBO seems a possibility?).

    A detail which has only been embraced in a few places – but is actually covered by a road sign in the Hong Kong Highway Code, and a path sign promoted by Rails to Trails (a US version of Sustrans). This is to have a formal, or informal (enforced by peer disapproval) path user hirearchy. A simple pictogram sign declares that there is a priority of movement which has in prime position pedestrian movement – all users must yield to a pedestrian making bona fide progress, unless invited to take priority by the pedestrian ceding right of way, horses would be next with perhaps a special exemption for horses moving boats getting a negotiated priority overruling pedestrians. Cycle users would yield to pedestrians and horse on a similar basis, and motorised vehicles would sit at the bottom of the priority regime. Not exactly rocket science, and the opportunity is currently with us to press for inclusion of official road signage in consultation on Traffic Signs.

    Just one other detail in the design package. The path needs to have a generous grass verge wherever it can be provided. I had one path in a village where a family had hereditary sight problems, and they welcomed the detail of having a verge which had a distinct surface difference to the path, and walked with one foot on the grass, without the need to use a cane or guide dog and a knowledge that that grass verge was planned to have no obstructions, and guide them to avoid obstacles along the route. The verges would be free from any obstructions – seats, lamp posts, signs were placed to permit mechanised path maintenance, a once per year rigorous cut with a tractor mounted boom flail, rattling through around 1 Km per day (on 1 side) of verges cut down to grass for up to 1 metre, and the side vegetation cut clear vertically for around 3 metres at that width. This cut would be timed for the fledging of birds, and setting of wildflower seed. Looks a bit rough for 1-2 weeks but rapidly greens back.

  9. Jane Samson
    AUGUST 31, 2015 AT 9:40 PM

    Or resurface the towpath with crushed stone as the CRT did on the Llangollen Canal (laid three years ago with no sign of wear or tear, despite heavy use by pedestrians, cyclists and shire horses).

    Crushed stone is better for runners, good environmentally and aesthetically pleasing. The Llangollen Canal has World Heritage Status. Crushed stone was approved by both Sustrans and the CRT.

    Much more economical (the 2.4 mile section cost £280,000).

    Much less time to complete (6 weeks for this stretch)

    http://llanblogger.blogspot.co.uk/2014/03/work-starts-on-canal-towpath-facelift_7.html?m=1

    1. I have to say you are comparing a town with 4079 people to a city with about 86000 people and a footfall that can be measured in millions on the K&A Towpath. The CRT chose the K&A surfaces based on usage.

      1. The footfall was deemed by the CRT as ‘heavy’. There are are huge number of tourists that visit Llangollen.

        As regards the Code of Conduct, I agree that it appears that CRT have worked very hard on this, and have consulted widely with experts. But unfortunately the outcome is still falling far short of what they intended and hoped for. There needs to be a review and reports of accidents and near misses needs to be investigated. It is not the answer to keep referring back to the existing Code of Conduct. We know it is there and it sounds great.

        I agree with you 100% about the London Road. As I say, I am concerned that the issue of cyclists on the London Road will be put on the back burner or discarded because a large amount of City Cycle Ambition Grant has been spent on a cycle route (towpath) into the city centre. Plus a big green tick in the box – job done!

  10. Jane, think you may be right about London Road and is something to really watch out for. However they have a lot of money coming in from LSTF, CCAG, and the Bath Enterprise Area that is “ringfenced” for walking and cycling. London Road though is a huge problem and needs a Poynton style solution. https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=-vzDDMzq7d0

    Note there is a rumour doing the rounds that the on pavement cycle lane is going to be converted back into one long loading bay. 😦

  11. It’s important to improve the path (the fashionable Parisian visitor we had over Christmas bravely tackled it in her stylish shoes, but there was no real need for that to be a problem). But how do we persuade the discourteous minority of cyclists from refusing to slow down and ring their bells when approaching pedestrians?

  12. All this fuss when the solution is known.
    Two paths.
    Each wide enough to accommodate passing and the other direction. Good design plus signage to make it immediately obvious which path is for which activity.
    Here in Vancouver we have the world famous Seawall. It was once like this, a single narrow path. As usage increased, the same problems and accusations as I read here came up. Different things were tried but ultimately the only workable solution was to make two paths.

    The speeds of the two modes are too different to expect courtesy or a code of conduct to make much difference. You can cycle or walk in a highly courteous way and still cause problems for others. It just won’t work. When volumes are low, sure, save some money with a single narrow path but when there’s any sort of volume of people walking and cycling then the only solution is to have two separate paths.
    Some bushes would have to go and it would cost some money but don’t they need to spend some money on something before next March?

    http://www.letsgobiking.net/2010/05/10-seaside-four-routes.html
    http://www.velo-city2012blog.com/?attachment_id=1341

  13. That Seawall looks great, but I do not think the towpath is wide enough to permit something as as useful, nor would the council or CRT spend that kind of money. Also, there are people living on boats along the canal, who frequently leave bikes/ prams/logs/furniture/unidentifiable crusty junk laid out on the towpath, which makes an early ( 0630ish ) commute to town a challenge added to the muddy, rutted and puddled path. A crushed stone surface would be my preferred option, and if it was slighlty uneven so much the better, to prevent racing bike riders using it as a speed track, as they do along the Bath to Bristol path.

    1. You’re coming a bit late to the discussion. The surface has been agreed. A bitmac substrate with a spray and chip gravel surface. It will be great for walking and OK for slow cycling. If you want to see the finish, pop down to Devizes where they have put in this surface and it really does suit “slow” cycling.

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