Category Archives: Kennet and Avon Canal

K&A Towpath – the work continues

If you haven’t been down to the towpath recently you really need to pop down. Better still wait to a rainy horrible day and then pop down. Try to remember how bad it was.

Let me help you:

kennet and avon canal

What is down there is rather fantastic now:

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I also think the pea gravel surface on top of asphalt works really well although speaking to somebody who was pushing their father in a wheel chair it was harder going than on the smooth asphalt. The spray and chip top layer is still being applied.

What I do like about the pea gravel is that it makes it noisy to ride/walk along the towpath, and whether we like it or not, we unfortunately have people that do ride too fast and close to people walking and are not prone to using bells and create conflict.

Where the pea gravel surface doesn’t work so well is on the slope down to Grosvenor Bridge. Thankfully it stops halfway down but it feels a bit slippy.

One of the key points made during the consultation was the provision of signs educating people about the Canal and River Trusts Towpath Code of Conduct.

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I have not seen any of these along the route. I’d like to see these down there pretty sharpish. Having spoken to a few people down there, it is a problem and it can be easily addressed.

So what still needs to happen?

  1. The spray and chip surface along the whole length needs to be finished.
  2. The footpath between Hampton Row footbridge and the ramp is being made into a gravel path to make it useable all year round.
  3. Code of conduct Signs need to go up.
  4. The exit area onto Beckford road needs asphalt and the desire line footpaths in this area I believe are going to be gravelled to make them useable all year round.
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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.

Continue reading Cyclists used to try and prevent towpath repair

The Towpath and getting things wrong

When you campaign for better cycling infrastructure to get more people cycling, you can very quickly get focused on fixing what you perceive as issues and move on from what you see as the obvious. The upgrade of the towpath and ramp was one of those things that I, and Cycle Bath, saw as an obvious thing. As can be seen by the Cycle Bath CCAG Bath East bid the ramp and towpath are pretty much mentioned in passing. The focus is on connecting communities to schools and the heart of the city. Getting more people cycling.

I’d like to apologise to the people that signed the letter in the chronicle. The way this has all gone makes me feel uncomfortable and I don’t think my “I know a little bit more about the history of the towpath upgrade” attitude has in anyway helped.

I also think the fact the council’s Cycle Forum promised a public consultation on the work and then this never materialising has not helped either. Again I think (I do not know) this comes about because, from the council’s point of view,  the upgrade of the towpath and ramp are “obvious” and there is a previous “agreement” in place with the Canal and River Trust to get this done . I believe (I do not know) that the CCAG bid money has now been limited to the towpath and  ramp upgrade, and this is why the public consultation will not happen.

For the people that love what the towpath currently is, this is a low blow. I cannot apologise for the lack of a public consultation. It was not mine to give. I had written multiple emails over the months trying to get the date of the consultation.

From Cycle Bath’s point of view we do not connect communities, we do not get child friendly routes from communities to schools and the heart of the city. We do not fix Batheaston to Bathampton, no toucan upgrade across London Road and no new toucan on Beckford Road into the back of Sydney Gardens and connecting to the Cleveland pools. It means years of campaigning to get the extra bits done to get safe routes to the towpath.

Now if possible I’d like to get into why Cycle Bath and the council thought the towpath upgrade was “obvious” and it comes down to a planning objection letter linked in the heated discussions on the Bath Chronicle website.

Continue reading The Towpath and getting things wrong

CCAG 2015/16: Kennet and Avon Canal connection to Grosvenor Bridge

Upgrade Kennet & Avon Tow Path (NCN4) to improve access from the East of Bath to the City Centre and Enterprise Area. Also to improve access to Grosvenor Bridge for residents of Lambridge and the London Road area of the city.

With the Cycle Forum tomorrow (Tuesday the 10th of March 2015) and with a budget of £675,000 that needs to be spent in the 2015/2016 financial year we need to get a move on! There are aspects of this project that were not clearly defined as part of the Cycle City Ambition Grant Bid. This is my proposal. Please feel free to rip it apart. In fact it’s your duty to do so.

Continue reading CCAG 2015/16: Kennet and Avon Canal connection to Grosvenor Bridge