The Canal & River Trust have just issued results of their recent consulation, here:

Section talks about cyclists, the two quoted suggestions are:

Permits, "should be displayed clearly so other users are able to identify and report bad behaviour"
Speed Limit, "If there is a speed limit for boaters there should/could be a speed limit for cyclists"

Got to be careful not to shoot the messenger here, these are the views of the public that responded to the consulation, permits =1 in 10 respondees, speed limits = 1 in 20. However, some constructive discussion here passed onto the trust may be worthwhile.

My immediate reaction:

I commute along the canal everyday and rarely see any incidents.
I do witness some antisocial behaviour, like severe drunkeness, occassional fighting, and (rarely) people shooting heroin.
I'm absolutely against wearing a 'permit', so people can report me, when other canal users (eg junkies) can remain anonymous.
Speed is restricted by the large body of cold water immediately to my left/right, and therefore I'm also against a limit. Enforcement?? Speed cameras? Police with radar? At least 50% of the traffic in my area (West London) is driving routinely over the speed limit, and enforcement on the roads is minimal. This is why I use the canal in the first place.

Other comments...
p29, "they’re not commuter routes"...
p42, "Towpaths not for commuter cycling"
well, they can be commuter routes, I've been using one as such for the last 5 years? If not, why not? Force people onto busy roads? Back into their cars?

Interested in other's opinions. Cheers.


CanAmSteve [253 posts] 2 years ago

How about the fishermen with their hugely long rods that completely obstruct the tow path? (there's a good six metres out front so they need the rear projection to balance it)

Then as you arrive they grumble and mutter and move so slowly... sometimes there will be five or six in a row blocking the path. I bet if I was to lay my bike across the path while I took a break it would be frowned upon.

Brown dog [40 posts] 2 years ago

Looks like the page in your link has been removed

But if you search cycling you get this advice

The Canal & River Trust welcomes considerate cyclists to its towpaths and you don't need a permit to use your bike on any of our towpaths. However, we would ask that you take a look at our Greenways Code for Towpaths before you take to the towpaths. Lots of people visit the waterways, for many different reasons, and everyone is entitled to feel happy and safe while they're visiting.

Another none story ?

freespirit1 [249 posts] 2 years ago

Around my way the towpaths are generally shared use. Therefore to my mind all users should be respectful to others needs.

That said surely common sense is needed and if someone decides to put a Strava segment on a towpath you will run the risk ultimately of being legislated against, because of the lack of consideration of someone.

If someone knows how to get the segment on the Wey Navigation removed between New Haw and Addlestone could they have a go?

Binky [116 posts] 2 years ago

Where would i be sticking this permit?
What if i am inocent and a person is just being spiteful. Will i have to buy two helmet cams (one for the front and one for the rear) to cover me from false accusations?
I assume these permits are not free and i don't always cycle along the canal path due to varioues times of the year and night, drunks going toilet all over the place and fights as well as the local knuckle draggers make the place a health risk as well as a saftey risk, will the trust put out patrols?
Canal where i am is being topped with fine gravel, which slows people down (thank goodness) apart from putting speed bumps or more defacating drunks on the straight bits of the path, bad people will do bad things.

crikey [1251 posts] 2 years ago


Since canals are now looked after by the Canals Trust, no one needs a permit to ride along them. British waterways ceased to exist in 2012, as did the much used, much loved and regularly demanded permit...

drfabulous0 [408 posts] 2 years ago

The signs on my local towpath say "Cyclists give way to pedestrians, Pedestrians look out for cyclists" which seems perfectly sensible and reasonable advice to me, just a shame a small minority of both parties ignore it. I feel all towpaths could be easily managed by one rule: Don't be a dick! maximum fine £1,000 or be pushed in the canal.

Al__S [1118 posts] 2 years ago

Tow paths, which are often narrow, with poor sight lines (such as at bridges) and often lots of pedestrians (quite apart from the junkies) and of course that unbarriered drop into cold dirty water on one side, seem to be used at times as an excuse to not provide decent cycling provision on roads and streets.

I'm in favour of allowing cycling on tow paths, but it should not be part of any local or strategic network- they certainly shouldn't be part of the National Cycle Network, and that goes double when they're not tarmacked.