Canal towpath - legal position?

Discussion in 'Commuting' started by Debian, 19 May 2010.

  1. Debian

    Debian New Member

    West Midlands
    I found out today that a colleague ended up in the canal yestereve. He's OK but has a nasty bang on the head, a reshaped bike and a soaked iPhone.

    Apparently this is what happened:

    A barge was moored up and the mooring rope was completely across the towpath and secured to a tree. It was lying flat on the ground until just before my colleague reached it at which point the barge moved away from the bank thus tightening the rope and lifting it. The inevitable happened and my colleague went over the handlebars, headbutted the boat and ended up in the drink. He's OK fortunately, but could have drowned, fractured his skull, etc. The bike is damaged but I don't know to what extent.

    Now, is a boat driver allowed to drape a mooring rope across the towpath? I've only ever seen boats moored up to rings or posts on the waters edge. I.e., is it rider / walker beware or is the boat driver at fault?
  2. guitarpete247

    guitarpete247 Just about surviving

    A trip to or call to CA would certainly not be wasted. I'm sure they can tell you or at least put your colleague in touch with someone who can. It does seem he might have a case as there should be proper mooring post available and these are clearly visible to either cyclist or pedestrians. I'm sure a walker at night would have even less chance of seeing a mooring rope stretched across the toe-path.
  3. GrumpyGregry

    GrumpyGregry Here for rides.

    yet elsewhere they say to everyone...

    watch out for concealed mooring pins or ropes across the path beside moored boats

    It's going to be a duty of care thing, the moorer didn't exercise due care and neither did the cyclist. Lawyers won't be interested as the damage/injury isn't big enough, small claims is a possibility but....

    Out of interest did the cyclist have 3rd party liability insurance or the relevant towpath permit? The boater almost certainly does have insurance, if it's a BWB canal I think, iirc, it is mandatory so a claim could be made against the insurers
  4. hackbike 666

    hackbike 666 Guest

    I thought you needed a permit to cycle on the canal towpath anyway.

    That one at Bow to Tottenham I think one was needed although I never got pulled up over it.I no longer use it anyway...too isolated.
  5. hackbike 666

    hackbike 666 Guest

    As far as I know.
  6. I never tied my mooring ropes across the towpath when I lived on a boat - it's a daft thing to do, since you can always use mooring pins or armco hooks - but I always kept an eye out for other people who may have done when I was walking or cycling. If your mate was carrying enough momentum to headbutt the boat, "reshape" his bike and end up in the drink, he was probably going a little too fast for the conditions. After all, if someone had stepped off the boat, he'd have hit them instead of the mooring rope. I'd put this one down to experience.
  7. Ste T.

    Ste T. Über Member

    You do need a permit to ride the towpath. They can be down loaded in pdf from the water authorities website, to print off at home so they dont take them that seriously....until you have an accident. This will be a tack the boat owner will take I've no doubt, if you dont posses one, though this has no relevance to what occured.
  8. GrumpyGregry

    GrumpyGregry Here for rides.

    Which is why if you're going towpath riding you best have 3rd party insurance. You scratch the paint on someone's custom built narrowboat they bought for their retirement and knock over one of their grandchildren whilst riding without a permit "cos they don't take them seriously" and well....

    .... let's just say experience is a good tutor.
  9. It's not like the permit is difficult to get hold of. As I recall, you phone BW and they send you one in the post.
  10. Gerry Attrick

    Gerry Attrick Lincolnshire Mountain Rescue Consultant

    Or download one from here.
  11. fossyant

    fossyant Ride It Like You Stole It!

    South Manchester
    Best that your friend downloads a permit. I have one for when I ride on a towpath (very rare) but there is always some jobsworth that might stop you.

    Did your friend get the details of the boat and owner. Certainly a lack of care there from the boat owner. Also yet another reason to have CTC or BC insurance, a solicitor will act for you.
  12. I have to agree.

    much as it is painful for your friend to have to admit this, it sounds like he was going a little to fast for a towpath. Perhaps he should just stick to the roads where the "rules" are clearer.

    nasty tho, he could have been in real trouble, glad he wasnt hurt too much. good lesson learned
  13. Wheeledweenie

    Wheeledweenie Über Member

    The whole towpath thing annoys me. I found out after overhearing another cyclist. True the permits are easy to get hold of but the lack of publicity means no one realises you're meant to have one.

    As for the speed thing, you don't need to be going fast at all. I went into my local canal last year (planking on a blind bend), my bike was ok as I threw it clear but it was a bit of an ordeal. Funny in retrospect, but it really shook me up. I was going fairly slowly, but a badly maintained surface meant that I couldn't recover my balance once I'd hit the planking.
  14. GrumpyGregry

    GrumpyGregry Here for rides.

    sometimes even very slow is still too fast, as I've found to my cost on a number of occasions.
  15. GrumpyGregry

    GrumpyGregry Here for rides.

    imo CTC or other injury lawyers won't take it up unless the damages are going to be significant. Call 'em sure, but unless you are properly hurt or have suffered a significant uninsured loss it isn't worth their while and they will listen, offer sympathy and politely decline.
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