Dick had been working for British Waterways for a year until ceased to exist and its successor, the Canal and River Trust, was launched on 12th July. Instead of ‘Two Tings’, the new towpath sharing efforts are called: ‘”share the space, drop your pace” (on the Canal and River Trust towpaths).
Dick introduced the Canal and River Trust, the new charity entrusted with the care of 2,000 miles of waterways in England and Wales, 100 miles of which are in 15 London Boroughs! The London area includes the Regents Canal, the Grand Union canal as far as Rickmansworth, the River Lee Navigation up to Enfield and the London section of the Thames.
The trust’s team is advised and supported by the London Waterways Partnership by raising funds for local projects such as finding homes for voles and birds and brightening up hidden corners.
Hoping to get High-Res version of the above map
Cycling and walking on London’s towpaths
The Regents canal towpath is very popular, with 700 visitors an hour at peak time (500 on bikes). There has been a large increase in complaints and press coverage and there’s evidence to suggest pedestrians are avoiding the towpath at peak times.
The following measures have been introduced: signage, widening by reducing the non-paved edges, extending the towpath on pontoons under bridges and controlling speed by means of chicanes.
Alternative Routes project
Since there is a limit to the towpath capacity, British waterways in the past (who commissioned studies in Westminster, Islington, Hackney) and and now the Canal and River Trust are interested in alternative routes on nearby roads. LB Camden commissioned its own study in 2010. Dick wants the local groups to be involved in planning these routes. He had recently addressed Islington Cyclists (ICAG) and Camden Friends of the Earth. A Strategic Cycle Routes Coordinator is to be appointed very soon to manage this project.
Dick was adamant that this project is not a precursor to a cycle ban on the Regents canal.
The idea of the parallel route provoked discussion: the highest ‘Going Dutch’ standards should be followed so that people feel just as secure as on the towpath; the route must be very well signed as nobody ever gets lost on the towpath; it should link to all canal access points (with ramps) so that people can mix and match their use of the towpath with that of the alternative route; it should link well with the local cycle routes.
Dick asked us to help find volunteers to help promote the new towpath sharing code, to join in events and to keep an eye on what’s going on. See details of what a volunteer towpath ranger does.
This was a very interesting presentation with lively discussion and Dick was warmly thanked at the end.