Canal towpath petition

Commuting, Day rides, Audax, Incidents, etc.
reohn2
Posts: 39667
Joined: 26 Jun 2009, 8:21pm

Re: Canal towpath petition

Postby reohn2 » 26 Jul 2020, 10:08am

Cyril Haearn wrote:I imagine there are lots of derelict canals that could be restored, between Ledbury and Gloucester for example, not much left of that :?

I don't know the canal in question but if it's derelict and can't be connected to the network would it serve any purpose as a canal,would it not be better repurposed as a linier park perhaps?
-----------------------------------------------------------
I cycle therefore I am.

Cyril Haearn
Posts: 13737
Joined: 30 Nov 2013, 11:26am
Location: Leafy suburbia

Re: Canal towpath petition

Postby Cyril Haearn » 26 Jul 2020, 10:44am

reohn2 wrote:
Cyril Haearn wrote:I imagine there are lots of derelict canals that could be restored, between Ledbury and Gloucester for example, not much left of that :?

I don't know the canal in question but if it's derelict and can't be connected to the network would it serve any purpose as a canal,would it not be better repurposed as a linier park perhaps?

Both
There are lots of canals that did not last long. Thanks to the railways, plusminus :?
Entertainer, intellectual, idealist, PoB, 60097
Cycling-of course, but it is far better on a Gillott
We love safety cameras, we hate bullies

User avatar
simonineaston
Posts: 3152
Joined: 9 May 2007, 1:06pm
Location: Live & work in Briz'l

Re: Canal towpath petition

Postby simonineaston » 26 Jul 2020, 11:21am

In a dream world, I can readily see the idea of a national network of leisure lanes, made up of a mixture of ex railways and canals, catering for walkers, cyclists and all sorts of other, cheerful, cooperative folk (anyone except anglers!! :wink: ) - great idea! Although, in fairness, one that Sustrans have been fighting for, for a while now! That's what they do. Or tried to do, in the face of often inflexible and uncooperative opposition...
Would that we lived in a world that could make that possible, however the reality is that the current society is way too busy swerving anything like resonsibility or cooperation, or benefits, or kindliness or any other characteristic that in any way works for someone else other than the individual - think about the way the Grenfell inquiry is going, with seemingly every single person (except the victims' families & their supporters obs. ) engaging in an unseemly scrabble to wriggle out of anything that might put the blame on them... that's the sort of place we've ended up in, folks.... not a place where dream-lanes along canals exist.
Feel free to call me a cyncial, nihilistic, pointless, depressive and I'll agree with you... :roll:
ttfn, Simon in Easton
(currently enjoying a Moulton TSR & a nano Brompton...)

Richard Fairhurst
Posts: 1537
Joined: 2 Mar 2008, 4:57pm
Location: Charlbury, Oxfordshire

Re: Canal towpath petition

Postby Richard Fairhurst » 26 Jul 2020, 11:44am

reohn2 wrote:
Cyril Haearn wrote:I imagine there are lots of derelict canals that could be restored, between Ledbury and Gloucester for example, not much left of that :?

I don't know the canal in question but if it's derelict and can't be connected to the network would it serve any purpose as a canal,would it not be better repurposed as a linier park perhaps?


It can be connected to the network, at Gloucester, and is being (slowly!) rebuilt as such by the Herefordshire & Gloucestershire Canal Trust. There are plenty of canals being restored by volunteers - among the furthest advanced are the Cotswold Canals (Saul Junction, near Slimbridge, to Lechlade), the Wey & Arun (connecting the two rivers of its name, and hence ultimately London and the south coast), the Grantham Canal (Nottingham-Grantham), the Montgomery (in the Welsh Borders), and many many more. A lot of the canals which people enjoy cycling along were restored at least partly by volunteers - the Kennet & Avon, the Huddersfield, the Rochdale, etc.

There is certainly potential for more towpath upgrades along canals, particularly in urban areas, or where the towpath provides a useful connecting route. Near here, for example, NCN 5 follows the towpath for a short way north of Oxford, to avoid negotiating two horrible roundabouts (Wolvercote and Peartree). There are also some canals which have a semi-urban character and where a towpath upgrade would not detract from the waterway at all - parts of the Trent & Mersey are like this.

But I think a lot of character would be lost if every single towpath was tarmaced and widened. I wouldn't want to see all of the Shropshire Union made into a cycle route, for example. What I would like to see is a national quiet lane initiative with ANPR to prevent through motor traffic... but that's another story.

Richard (former editor, Waterways World)
cycle.travel - maps, journey-planner, route guides and city guides

reohn2
Posts: 39667
Joined: 26 Jun 2009, 8:21pm

Re: Canal towpath petition

Postby reohn2 » 26 Jul 2020, 11:49am

RF
Thanks for the info very positive :)
-----------------------------------------------------------
I cycle therefore I am.

Cyril Haearn
Posts: 13737
Joined: 30 Nov 2013, 11:26am
Location: Leafy suburbia

Re: Canal towpath petition

Postby Cyril Haearn » 26 Jul 2020, 11:55am

Lots of parallels with the Heritage Railway Movement, canals with paths enabling one to cycle from a to b are even better than steam engines
Entertainer, intellectual, idealist, PoB, 60097
Cycling-of course, but it is far better on a Gillott
We love safety cameras, we hate bullies

Richard Fairhurst
Posts: 1537
Joined: 2 Mar 2008, 4:57pm
Location: Charlbury, Oxfordshire

Re: Canal towpath petition

Postby Richard Fairhurst » 26 Jul 2020, 12:14pm

One of the nice things about canal restoration is that the restorers are more likely to get Lottery money if they appeal to a wide section of people - i.e. not just boaters, but walkers, cyclists, anglers and just plain "gongoozlers". So generally a restored canal has a good quality towpath.

For example, I'm hopeful that the next stage of the Cotswold Canals restoration will improve the current cycling route from Stroud to the Severn (NCN 45), which is currently a bit rat-runny between Eastington and Saul.
cycle.travel - maps, journey-planner, route guides and city guides

Cyril Haearn
Posts: 13737
Joined: 30 Nov 2013, 11:26am
Location: Leafy suburbia

Re: Canal towpath petition

Postby Cyril Haearn » 26 Jul 2020, 2:33pm

There are too many heritage railways in GB thanks to Mr Beeching and Mr Woodham
Many could have been converted into cycle ways instead, plusminus?
Entertainer, intellectual, idealist, PoB, 60097
Cycling-of course, but it is far better on a Gillott
We love safety cameras, we hate bullies

Tangled Metal
Posts: 6838
Joined: 13 Feb 2015, 8:32pm

Re: Canal towpath petition

Postby Tangled Metal » 26 Jul 2020, 3:16pm

Our local canal has a good towpath made of compacted gravel/hard pack surface. They tarmacked a stretch but that has become the worst stretch to cycle, worse than even the unsurfaced grassy section further north. In less than 8 years the tarmacked stretch became badly potholed and indeed now there's little tarmac left. In fact when walking we used to play a game where we had to get along the towpath by only stepping on the tarmac patches. Basically that was impossible game to succeed at for more than short stretches.

My view is that I do not think many towpath working parties are that good at laying tarmac down. If tarmac path isn't good it'll degrade and be worse than other, cheaper options. Damage often started on our stretch with plants growing through. Footfall and cycling degraded the edges of those plant created weaknesses. It all then spreads and you lose the tarmac surfaced effectively.

Perhaps some other path surface might be better?

irc
Posts: 4755
Joined: 3 Dec 2008, 2:22pm
Location: glasgow

Re: Canal towpath petition

Postby irc » 26 Jul 2020, 4:00pm

The cycle path situation on the UK is not helped but the short sighted way lines were closed. Any closed kinlines should have been kept in public ownership so that the route was available for future use whether for a bike route, road, or reopened as a railway. In many cases the land was sold of piecemeal and reopening is no longer feasible
Other countries have done better aThe Katy trail crosses most of Missouri on a former rail line.

In the USA former lines are railbanked. Preserved for possible future use by rail but retained as a complete route meantime. Commonly with conversion to a railtrail.

https://en.m.wikipedia.org/wiki/Rail_tr ... ted_States

landsurfer
Posts: 5119
Joined: 27 Oct 2012, 9:13pm

Re: Canal towpath petition

Postby landsurfer » 26 Jul 2020, 4:07pm

I just have this annoying thought at the back of my mind .... you know the one ... where we get cycle paths but lose the right to ride on the roads .....
The Road Goes On Forever

rareposter
Posts: 169
Joined: 27 Aug 2014, 2:40pm

Re: Canal towpath petition

Postby rareposter » 26 Jul 2020, 8:04pm

There is a further issue with canals and that's that they can be extremely vulnerable places with no options for escape:

https://www.bbc.co.uk/news/uk-england-b ... m-53035084

I've done canal towpaths commutes in the past (Manchester) and there were many occasions where I'd get onto the road to bypass certain sections. Early in the morning was usually OK. Late afternoon / early evening there would often be groups of teenagers hanging round doing drugs or people blocking bits of the path (often unintentionally but it still looks menacing).

Related to that, Manchester had a serious spate of problems with the traffic-free Fallowfield Loop (old railway line cycle path)
https://www.manchestereveningnews.co.uk ... h-16203069

Some people see a traffic free idyllic rural path; plenty see a dark unlit muddy trail with no possibility of help or escape. If you want it to be anything other than a good-weather, daytime leisure bike ride and actually be a viable commuting option, it needs to be secure which means lighting / CCTV which puts the price up and no-one would ever agree to lighting a canal towpath.

There were several people I knew who simply refused to ride the towpaths or the Fallowfield Loop at any time and would rather take their chances on the road. You're on a narrow path with absolutely no options for escape and the potential for a quick nudge to send you into the water and make off with the bike is very high.

User avatar
mjr
Posts: 15815
Joined: 20 Jun 2011, 7:06pm
Location: Norfolk or Somerset, mostly
Contact:

Re: Canal towpath petition

Postby mjr » 26 Jul 2020, 9:45pm

rareposter wrote:There were several people I knew who simply refused to ride the towpaths or the Fallowfield Loop at any time and would rather take their chances on the road. You're on a narrow path with absolutely no options for escape and the potential for a quick nudge to send you into the water and make off with the bike is very high.

Because roads are completely free of criminals and others who might give you an altogether more forceful quick nudge?
MJR, mostly pedalling 3-speed roadsters. KL+West Norfolk BUG incl social easy rides http://www.klwnbug.co.uk
All the above is CC-By-SA and no other implied copyright license to Cycle magazine.

reohn2
Posts: 39667
Joined: 26 Jun 2009, 8:21pm

Re: Canal towpath petition

Postby reohn2 » 27 Jul 2020, 9:08am

Rareposter
To write off canal towpaths as active travel routes due to isolated incidents is a bit of a stretch IMO,which says more about the lack of effective policing in such areas than anything.

Landsurfer
You worry too much :wink: .
-----------------------------------------------------------
I cycle therefore I am.

Cyril Haearn
Posts: 13737
Joined: 30 Nov 2013, 11:26am
Location: Leafy suburbia

Re: Canal towpath petition

Postby Cyril Haearn » 27 Jul 2020, 9:21am

From that description I should not try the Fallowfield Loop
Incidentally might be isolated but fear would be ubiquitous for me
Never been there mind, anyone else with local knowledge, other views?
Entertainer, intellectual, idealist, PoB, 60097
Cycling-of course, but it is far better on a Gillott
We love safety cameras, we hate bullies