Towpath survey

Richard Fairhurst
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Towpath survey

Postby Richard Fairhurst » 6 Oct 2016, 9:56am

Spotted on a canal forum:

I'm looking at the outcomes following the large amounts of resurfacing which has been done on various parts of the (canal) network. I've heard many anecdotal accounts of cyclists crashing into each other and pedestrians; dog walkers with long leads causing trip hazards; anglers covering the towpath with their equipment etc.

I'm trying to find out the extend to which these events have happened since unimproved towpaths have had new surfaces installed and whether the potential benefits of giving cyclists a 'safer' place to ride than the road is offset by the increased risk faced by other towpath users.


Worth filling in if you have a spare minute - it's a very short survey.

http://www.smartsurvey.co.uk/s/towpathsurvey/
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Heltor Chasca
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Re: Towpath survey

Postby Heltor Chasca » 6 Oct 2016, 11:10am

Done on my tea break...And now back to the weeding...

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gaz
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Re: Towpath survey

Postby gaz » 6 Oct 2016, 3:08pm

Done my bit to add to the pile of anecdotal evidence.
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Si
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Re: Towpath survey

Postby Si » 6 Oct 2016, 3:24pm

It does seem to have an emphasis on cyclists being in conflict with other users - I didn't notice any questions about how many times a walker had caused issues, or an angler, or boater. Maybe I'm being overly sensitive? But I always worry that these things have an agenda to prove what the author has already decided upon.

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mjr
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Re: Towpath survey

Postby mjr » 6 Oct 2016, 3:43pm

Maybe it would be a good idea for people to ask what the surveyor's qualifications are (there was no Market Research Society or similar statement of ethics) and why the questions seem phrased to incite conflict?
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millimole
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Re: Towpath survey

Postby millimole » 6 Oct 2016, 9:39pm

I'm a volunteer lock keeper / towpath ranger with The Canal & River Trust (CRT) which gives me a bit of insight into this. There is a very vocal minority of boaters that are against anything that does, and I pretty well mean anything.
The grant from DEFRA which currently sustains CRT as a charity comes with a rider that the waterways (and towpaths) must be 'open to all' - so I order to improve access for cyclists, disabled users, and, yes, pedestrians, there have been a number of towpath improvement projects around the country. I gather Bath has benefited, as we have in Leicester. This group of boaters see these improvements as creating 'High Speed cycle routes' - and will look for any ammunition to get the work that CRT are doing discredited.
(It's almost an aside, but this group believe that their licence fee is being mis-spent or squandered, by CRT, whereas in fact the licence fee makes up a tiny proportion of CRT's income, the majority coming from ground rent income and the government grant)
CRT are by no means perfect, but don't feed the trolls.


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Si
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Re: Towpath survey

Postby Si » 7 Oct 2016, 2:02pm

I believe that I read elsewhere that the survey is from someone at the UoB. Which kind of ties in with the recent wide-scale work to 'upgrade' Birmingham's canal tow paths. Just a pity that because of the upgrades you can't get to the UoB by tow path at the moment!

MikeF
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Re: Towpath survey

Postby MikeF » 8 Oct 2016, 8:31pm

What are towpaths? :mrgreen: They're not round here.
A survey to prove a point as millimole states?
I'm looking at the outcomes following the large amounts of resurfacing which has been done on various parts of the (canal) network. I've heard many anecdotal accounts of cyclists crashing into each other and pedestrians; dog walkers with long leads causing trip hazards; anglers covering the towpath with their equipment etc.
"It takes a genius to spot the obvious" - my old physics master

Flinders
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Re: Towpath survey

Postby Flinders » 10 Oct 2016, 9:28am

Round here some are a mess by any judgement - narrow and overgrown, with overgrown lumpy grass, and edges crumbling into the water. They're not reasonably passable on a non-mountain bike, and would be completely impassable with a wheelchair.

Maintained properly they would be a grand way for cyclists to avoid some nasty main roads between towns and villages, and good for the less fit as they're flat, but as they are, they have sections I'd even describe as dangerous which make using routed between towns impractical. They can suddenly become a problem in the middle of nowhere where there aren't many access points.

I wouldn't even want to take a horse-drawn barge on the worst sections of them in case the horse ended up falling into the drink due to a collapsing bank.

nosmarbaj
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Re: Towpath survey

Postby nosmarbaj » 11 Oct 2016, 9:06am

Flinders wrote:Round here some are a mess by any judgement - narrow and overgrown, with overgrown lumpy grass, and edges crumbling into the water. They're not reasonably passable on a non-mountain bike, and would be completely impassable with a wheelchair.

Maintained properly they would be a grand way for cyclists to avoid some nasty main roads between towns and villages, and good for the less fit as they're flat, but as they are, they have sections I'd even describe as dangerous which make using routed between towns impractical. They can suddenly become a problem in the middle of nowhere where there aren't many access points.

I wouldn't even want to take a horse-drawn barge on the worst sections of them in case the horse ended up falling into the drink due to a collapsing bank.

OFF TOPIC: I read somewhere that one reason there seem to be more collapsed banks these days is because the invasive American Crayfish has displaced our native crayfish. The American one digs burrows into banks and thus severely weakens them.

millimole
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Re: Towpath survey

Postby millimole » 11 Oct 2016, 9:21am

Flinders wrote:Maintained properly they would be a grand way for cyclists to avoid some nasty main roads between towns and villages,.


Sorry for snipping some very valuable and pertinent words, but it's the /Maintained properly/ bit I want to highlight.

The issue is, is that in the vast majority of cases a towpath is not a public right of way - it is a permissive path (subject to CRT by-laws). So the maintenance is done to a pragmatic standard determined by the local waterways management- pragmatic based on funds, usage, conservation and heritage.
There are sections, I am aware, that are ROWs but these are the exception.

So 'proper maintenance' might be enough for occasional walkers and the odd cyclist, or in another place it might be a billiard table smooth path suitable for commuting cyclists and walkers.

A lot of path making and maintenance is now done by waterways volunteers (CRT, WRG, or IWA)

(The issue of horse drawn boats is a red herring as they are never seen other than in other than specific sites for specific reasons)


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Adam S
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Re: Towpath survey

Postby Adam S » 11 Oct 2016, 8:58pm

Often maintenance isn't the issue. It's the question of whether towpaths should be improved for bicyckes. I'm in favour of allowing cycles to use towpaths but I'm not sure I'd like to see all towpaths 'upgraded' to a tarmac strip.

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Re: Towpath survey

Postby MikeF » 16 Oct 2016, 9:46am

The few towpaths on which I've walked, to me, don't seem to suitable for any significant cycle use. An occasional cyclist pootling along maybe, but not for any significant use. Maybe there are some that might be more suitable for more use, but there always seems to be a danger of cycling into the canal. :shock:
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Flinders
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Re: Towpath survey

Postby Flinders » 16 Oct 2016, 9:56am

millimole wrote:
Flinders wrote:Maintained properly they would be a grand way for cyclists to avoid some nasty main roads between towns and villages,.


Sorry for snipping some very valuable and pertinent words, but it's the /Maintained properly/ bit I want to highlight.

The issue is, is that in the vast majority of cases a towpath is not a public right of way - it is a permissive path (subject to CRT by-laws). So the maintenance is done to a pragmatic standard determined by the local waterways management- pragmatic based on funds, usage, conservation and heritage.
There are sections, I am aware, that are ROWs but these are the exception.

So 'proper maintenance' might be enough for occasional walkers and the odd cyclist, or in another place it might be a billiard table smooth path suitable for commuting cyclists and walkers.

A lot of path making and maintenance is now done by waterways volunteers (CRT, WRG, or IWA)

(The issue of horse drawn boats is a red herring as they are never seen other than in other than specific sites for specific reasons)


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My 'horse drawn' point was more that even something with feet rather than wheels would have problems on the bad sections and might end up in the drink.................I should have been more specific. And I didn't mean to suggest they were not maintained to the legal standard, only that if they were maintained to a better standard they would be good off-road commuter/shopping/travel routes for nervous or less fit cyclists.

We've had a couple of newbies on the forum lately who are nervous of traffic or just wanted to use a flatter route until they go fitter, and were trying to plan routes using towpaths, in fact. Round here that would be a bad idea, which is unfortunate as some of the towpaths are good and often direct routes on the flat between local towns and villages.

PRL
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Re: Towpath survey

Postby PRL » 23 Oct 2016, 10:33pm

MikeF wrote:The few towpaths on which I've walked, to me, don't seem to suitable for any significant cycle use. An occasional cyclist pootling along maybe, but not for any significant use. Maybe there are some that might be more suitable for more use, but there always seems to be a danger of cycling into the canal. :shock:


Done that ! Grand Union Canal in March. Wheels stuck in mud come free suddenly and I am going straight for the.....Splash. :oops:
Only about 3 ft deep I can report.