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:
- Better infrastructure :- Widening all towpaths (where necessary) and upgrading to 4 season surfaces usable all year round.
- Better signage :- Clear and prominent shared use signs to be installed across the country where there are concerns raised by local users.
- 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
There are a lot of things about this really are irrelevant to CycleBath. It’s an existing poorly maintained, rough, and mostly muddy towpath that becomes almost unusable in mid-winter. In fact the erosion is so bad that the Canal and River Trust have been desperately looking for money to fix the path for years. The CCAG fund has given them this opportunity to make it accessible and mud free all year round for all users, walkers, pushchairs, wheelchairs and, of course, cyclists. What they seem to not get is that the council officers chose how to spend the CCAG money, not CycleBath. I don’t think it’s a bad spend of the money, but it could have been better allocated to create better networks.
However there are people that want to portray this as a mission by CycleBath to tarmac it, fell all the trees and make it good for cycling. I’m ok with that. I honestly do not care what happens to the towpath as long as the full width of the towpath and path connecting the towpath to Grosvenor Bridge is made use-able all year round. It helps get more people cycling. It helps a lot more people use the path in mid-winter. It makes it accessible to all.
I will admit there is a young tree over a massive hole caused by a stream eroding the Grosvenor bridge path that probably needs removing as part of repairing the stream bridging point. It’s a safety issue. The other trees on the path are magnificent and only one tree marginally impacts the path width, but should not be cut down.
There are obviously major issues with the current useable width and the poor interaction between bad users of the towpath. A lot of close passes by people cycling and some collisions. Making the full width (2.5m) of the towpath use-able all year round and promotion of the towpath code of conduct should solve these issues. It’s worked on other towpaths and even on the Two Tunnels. It has a good chance of working here. Doing nothing is simply not an option given the chance the CRT has to finally make this a more accessible path and better for ALL users. Education is key to managing bad behaviour.
Talking about bad behaviour, “Collective responsibility”, the act of lumping all “cyclists” into one group and then blaming them seems to be the name of the game here unfortunately. Just remember CycleBath is focused on creating infrastructure good enough for you to let your kids cycle to school. Fixing an existing poorly maintained path that is slowly being eroded away is way down the list of our priorities. Getting your child safely to the path is WAY more important.
Now go sign the petition. We need a public consultation.
This proposal is getting a lot of interest and thankfully it appears to be getting praised for what it is trying to achieve.
I have now created a ‘landing’ page for the proposal to help people get up to speed. I’ll add things as and when they are discussed. I’ve also added it to the useful links section of the site.
Some of you may have noticed Cycle Bath is in the paper this week detailing the Cycle City Ambition Grant Bath East proposal. I have to thank the Bath Chronicle for being patient with me and working towards a fantastic article. Apparently this is the first time they had done such a thing and felt it was very positive experience. It’s resulted in a fantastic two page spread.
The main story is now on their website http://www.bathchronicle.co.uk/…/story-26302958-…/story.html
The story was so big that they split it into 3 further articles:
Cycle Bath proposal for east Bath: Grosvenor Bridge Ramp to Larkhall route
Cycle Bath proposal for east Bath: Sydney Gardens to Grosvenor Bridge Ramp route
Cycle Bath proposal for east Bath: Grosvenor Bridge Ramp to Batheaston route
And now a rather ominous warning….
Continue reading CCAG Bath East now in the Bath Chronicle!