Email to British Waterways

Discussion in 'Commuting' started by gouldina, 12 May 2010.

  1. gouldina

    gouldina New Member

    Location:
    London
    What I sent this morning:

    Dear Sir or Madam,

    I noticed that cyclists are once again being stopped on the canal to be reminded of the towpath code of conduct. As a cyclist who has been using the Regent's Canal for the last 14 years, I am slightly concerned about the frequency of these reminders and the increasing antipathy of pedestrians towards the cyclists using the canal. My belief is that this is caused by the increased numbers of cyclists not just on the canal but in general - a trend which can only see as a good thing for our society as a whole - but one which also seems to have raised the blood pressure of the non-cyclist significantly. Firstly, I would like to remind you of two things.

    1) The reason that cyclists use the canal.

    The roads in London are often a very a hostile place for cyclists. In the last few weeks, a female cyclist was killed on Victoria Park Road by a large lorry. I noted at the time that the route she was taking was parallel to mine on the canal. There aren't any lorries on the Regent's Canal. There are no other cycling facilities which don't carry traffic other than the parks in the region. Cycle lanes are often positively dangerous rather than an improvement to safety; often in the gutter and full of glass, often half parked-up so that cyclists have to veer into traffic that is often difficult to see without rear-view mirrors. I would urge you to have some sympathy with two-wheeled canal users on this ground alone.

    2) The antipathy of pedestrians and road users to cyclists.

    From Basford, L; Reid, S; Lester, T; Thomson, J (2002), Drivers' perceptions of cyclists, Report, 549, TRL Limited, pp. 38, OCLC 51283575:

    "... it is clear that motorists hold negative views about cyclists and tend to view cycle users as an ‘out group’ with significantly different characteristics from most road users ... the ‘out group’ status of cyclists brings with it a tendency among drivers to impute the poor or incompetent behaviour of some cyclists to all cyclists."

    It has also been shown that mitigating factors are more likely to be attributed to other road users who make mistakes than cyclists.

    Of late, I often find negative attention attracted to me from pedestrians on the canal merely for being there. They often deliberately stay three abreast across the canal despite me ringing my bell politely. Joggers (who often go at least as fast as cyclists and invariably wear headphones) will position themselves such that cyclists have to slalom between them or even stop despite the cyclist being perfectly visible to them. People shout at me to slow down even when I'm going at jogging pace. I have had a woman deliberately run dragging a child into a narrow exit path from the canal that I was already nearly out of just so that she could shout at me because "she had right of way". All these things I feel are simply due to cyclists being treated as an out-group and not being shown a reasonable level of tolerance that would be shown to e.g. dog walkers (of which more later).

    I further note that there is a much smaller section in the code of conduct for pedestrians. I haven't noticed anyone telling them about this though and I find it unlikely that they will bother to go to your website to look it up. That's probably why about 50% of the pedestrians and about 80% of the joggers on the canal seem to wear headphones and so can't hear my bell.

    On the subject of the code, I feel it's missing a requirement for dog-walkers to have their dogs on leads. They almost never do and the dogs run back and forth across the canal willy nilly getting in everyones way. I recently rang my bell to draw the attention of a group of dog-walkers to the fact that they and their dogs (which weren't on leads) had completely blocked the canal. Instead of getting the dogs to move, they took the mickey by saying "dogs can't understand bells". I responded by telling them that that was the reason that the dogs should be on leads. They were outraged by this which implies to me that they didn't know that this was the case.

    I was also told by one of your number this morning that I should pass pedestrians on the water side. How is one supposed to achieve this when the pedestrian is walking on the water side? This makes no sense to me. Cyclists (and it is only cyclists - everyone else just does what they fancy) follow a convention on the canal of being on the left. This is far more sensible if you ask me.

    So come on guys, there's plenty of signs, hand-outs, people telling us how to behave. How about everyone else?

    Regards,
     
  2. g00se

    g00se Über Member

    Location:
    Norwich
    I was on the regents canal towpath last week for the first time (left work early so went for a pootle). I found it more stressful than rush hour on the London roads. Stop, start, ding-ding, excuse me - traffic jam of cyclists behind a wall of ipodded joggers. Stationary, chatting, old dears, blind corners under bridges... Blimey....

    I originally went there to find the Towpath cafe - but at that time of day it was closed :smile:
     
  3. OP
    OP
    gouldina

    gouldina New Member

    Location:
    London
    It's only like that in good weather tbh. In the winter, I'm pretty much on my own.
     
  4. jimboalee

    jimboalee New Member

    Location:
    Solihull
    You should have also complained about the fluid they fill their canals with.

    It doesn't support the weight of a bicycle.
     
  5. OP
    OP
    gouldina

    gouldina New Member

    Location:
    London
    It does in the winter.
     
  6. Theseus

    Theseus .

    Location:
    Edinburgh
    If I was in BW and that letter crossed my desk I would send you a polite acknowledgement that I had received it and then file it somewhere to be forgotten & ignored. It is too long, I lost interest by the end of the first paragraph.
     
  7. jimboalee

    jimboalee New Member

    Location:
    Solihull
    As a tertiary user ( Horses pulling narrowboats first and then Bargies with enamelled tea mugs second ) I personally don't think cyclists have any right to complain about there supposed rights on a canal tow path.

    There are roads for wheeled vehicles.
     
  8. OP
    OP
    gouldina

    gouldina New Member

    Location:
    London
    I wasn't complaining about cyclists rights. I was complaining that we were the only people that were ever told about the code of conduct.
     
  9. OP
    OP
    gouldina

    gouldina New Member

    Location:
    London
    Edited for brevity. You were boring me.
     
  10. jimboalee

    jimboalee New Member

    Location:
    Solihull
    I should correct this.

    Third - Bargies' children riding small bicycles.

    Fourth - Fishermen who are in possession of BW and NRA licences.

    Fifth - Ducks.
     
  11. Theseus

    Theseus .

    Location:
    Edinburgh
    Good to see you are learning.
     
  12. BentMikey

    BentMikey Rider of Seolferwulf

    Location:
    South London
    I'm not the only one feeling touchy this morning!!
     
  13. Norm

    Norm Guest

    Not sure about that, as it seems, from the OP, that the dogs were running back and forth across it.

    Is that touchy or touche? Actually, don't answer that, as I'm not sure I want to know. :ohmy:
     
  14. jimboalee

    jimboalee New Member

    Location:
    Solihull
    Hire a boat on the canal, they give you a booklet that explains all.

    Buy an angling licence, they give you a leaflet that explains all.

    Ride your bike on the towpath, they don't know you're there, so come out to tell you about the 'Code of Conduct'.
     
  15. OP
    OP
    gouldina

    gouldina New Member

    Location:
    London
    I thought the implied :ohmy: would have been obvious there...

    Not if you're a walker though. Or a jogger. I have no beefs with the behaviour of the people in the boats or the fishermen.
     
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