The policy is aimed at all users of the towpath - encouraging people to be considerate of each other when using the busy narrow space. Increased signage on the towpath will inform people that pedestrians have priority and encourage cyclists to slow down.
The Basingstoke Canal is jointly owned by Hampshire and Surrey County Councils. Hampshire County Councillor and Chairman of the Basingstoke Canal Joint Management Committee, Jonathan Glen, said: “The Canal towpath has become a very popular access route for commuters and recreation; however, concerns over conflict between users have led to the adoption of this new policy. This issue is not unusual to the Basingstoke Canal, and similar issues are seen on many canals throughout Great Britain. I hope this policy will encourage all users to be considerate to each other, so that everyone can carry on enjoying this wonderful space.”
The Canal towpath is a 224-year-old heritage asset originally designed for horses to pull barges. It is now trying to meet modern day transport and recreation needs. There is no space to widen the towpath to accommodate the additional use. The policy has become necessary in order to enable all user groups to be able to continue using the path.
The new Cycle Policy and Towpath Code of Conduct is based on similar versions adopted by the Canal and Rivers Trust as part of their ‘share the space’ campaign. The policy was written by the Inland Waterways Association (IWA) and is proven to work well.