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Slow down plea after hit and run cyclist kills kitten on London commuter route towpath

Woman urges towpath commuter cyclists to slow down after her kitten killed on Hertford Union Canal

A woman whose kitten was killed after being hit by a man cycling along a canal towpath has urged cyclists who use the route to slow down. Katie Jackson's pet cat Don was killed by a cyclist on the towpath of the Hertford Union Canal beside Victoria Park in east London.

Jackson told the London Evening Standard how she heard a loud screeching of brakes which alerted her to the incident. She then saw the cyclist pedal away, looking back over his shoulder, before finding Don in the boat where he died a few minutes later.

On the London Boaters Facebook page, Jackson wrote:

“I know it was an accident but to hit something at such a speed to kill it almost instantly is irresponsible cycling. Imagine if it had been a child that had been on the towpath.

“I know a lot of boaters have issues with cyclists on the towpath but I also know a lot of you are cyclists yourselves so I urge everyone to set the right example: take your time, don't rush, don't hassle anyone to get past and look where you're going. Cycling fast should be reserved for the roads.”

Jackson says she has no desire to track down the cyclist and feels it was "a difficult situation" for him. contributor, T R McGowran, who is a towpath ranger for the Canal and River trust, explained that the section of towpath in question is extremely busy, particularly at commuter times.

“It’s an enticing prospect in that it’s car-free,” he said – pointing out that it is also very convenient for many people, offering a more direct route than by road.

Writing on the London Boaters Facebook page, Pete Gorman said that leisure cyclists were rarely a problem. He believes that those who cycle inconsiderately are more commonly commuters. “Monday to Friday from 6am to 9am and 4pm to 7pm, it’s utter chaos with the idiotic speeders who think it's their personal race track.”

McGowran agrees that those riding at busy times tend to show less etiquette. “People tend to ring their bell, not to let people know that they’re there, but to get them out of their way,” he said.

On its website, The Canal & River Trust points out that pedestrians have priority on towpaths. “If you’re in a hurry, consider using an alternative route for your journey,” is the suggestion.

In 2013, Sustrans told cyclists not to race on shared use paths, asking riders to slow down or even keep off them. The organisation also called for apps like Strava to highlight routes that were inappropriate for fast cycling.

CTC spokesman Roger Geffen agreed, pointing out that walkers can feel as intimated by fast cycling on shared-use paths as cyclists are by fast driving.

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