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£1.7 million sought to get London cyclists off towpaths

Proposed East-West route will provide rush hour alternative and ease canalside conflict, says British Waterways

British Waterways has recommended that £1.7 million be spent on improving streets and pathways running close to the Regent’s Canal and Grand Junction Canal in London to help ease conflict between pedestrians and cyclists on the towpath as well as giving bike riders increased options that will negate the need to break the law by cycling the wrong way down one-way streets.

The proposals form part of a planned East-West cycle route from Tottenham to Scrubs Lane which while largely following the route of the two canals will take cyclists off the towpath at peak commuting times, and include a contraflow in Blomfield Road, Little Venice, as well as a shared use path in nearby Delamere Terrace.

The recommendations have been made in a Green Cycle Route Implementation and Stakeholder Plan (CRISP) Study published earlier this year by British Waterways, which was carried out by Camden Council and funded by Transport for London. That study covered the Regent’s Canal between Regent’s Park and Ladbroke Grove, including the Paddington Branch of the Grand Union Canal.

The CRISP Study’s Executive Summary can be found on the website of the Westminster Cycling Campaign – use the links to the left of the homepage by navigating to the page on Canals, where you’ll see a link to the Cycle Route Implementation and Stakeholder Plan – and there’s also an email link to request a full copy of the report.

Westminster Cycling Campaign has welcomed the proposals, with spokesperson Colin Wing telling the Kilburn Times: We'd like to deter people from cycling illegally and we think making these improvements could help make cycling along the canal safer as well."

A spokesman for Westminster City Council, within whose boundaries some of the section of canal concerned flows, added: "We are currently in the process of asking Transport for London for funding, which would enable us to make these cycling routes a reality.”

The relationship between people on two wheels those on two legs on the capital’s towpaths can often be a fraught one, as contributor and Man About London Town TR can attest after he was shoved into a canal as he cycled past a pedestrian last year.

Since 2007, cyclists using canal towpaths in London have not needed to carry a permit to cycle, which is still required by riders outside the capital who use towpaths managed by British Waterways, after the body decided that it did not have the resources to enforce the rules, particularly given the increase in the number of cyclists in the city.

They are, however, obliged to follow a specific Code of Conduct, with provisions including pedestrians having priority over cyclists at all times and cyclists being told to ride at a “sensible speed” due to space being shared with other towpath users and the presence of obstacles such as low bridges, with British Waterways urging that “If you are in a hurry, use an alternative route.”

Simon joined as news editor in 2009 and is now the site’s community editor, acting as a link between the team producing the content and our readers. A law and languages graduate, published translator and former retail analyst, he has reported on issues as diverse as cycling-related court cases, anti-doping investigations, the latest developments in the bike industry and the sport’s biggest races. Now back in London full-time after 15 years living in Oxford and Cambridge, he loves cycling along the Thames but misses having his former riding buddy, Elodie the miniature schnauzer, in the basket in front of him.

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