Quietways - cycling in London

London's towpaths are more popular and people are enjoying them more than ever before. We're transforming over 16 miles of towpath between Paddington and West Drayton, working with Transport for London as part of the Quietways programme.

People on the towpath

Building on previous improvements between Paddington and West Drayton, we're providing:

  • better quality surfaces
  • wider paths
  • improved access points
  • new signs

The work will bring huge leisure and health benefits to everyone visiting, walking, cycling, boating and enjoying our West London canals.

Why we’re doing this

In 2014, we asked people about how towpaths across England & Wales should be improved and received a huge response. Three priorities emerged, now forming our Better Towpaths Policy:

  • better infrastructure (such as improved towpaths and access to them)
  • better signs
  • better behaviours from everyone

Better signage

We’re already delivering better signs across all 2,000 miles of towpaths and our ‘Share the Space, Drop Your Pace’ behaviour campaign is now established nationally as a way to encourage good behaviour and respect for all when enjoying the waterways.

Duck lanes

We painted duck lanes on towpaths across England and Wales to highlight the narrow space available for everyone – and every duck – to share.

Duck lanes painted on the towpaths in London

Polite zones

We introduced special polite zones for people to embrace good old-fashioned manners across the busiest stretches of towpaths, encouraging people to ‘smile and say hi as you go by’ and to remember that they are entering ‘a hat tipping zone’, a nod to times past when people tipped their hats or doffed their caps as a sign of respect or merely as a greeting.

Safer towpaths

We also enlisted the help of our very own sleeping policeman, Bobby, to remind everyone to take it slow and enjoy the towpath and allow others to do so safely too.

Share the space: sleeping policeman

Better infrastructure between Paddington and West Drayton

In 2016, we agreed a delivery programme of infrastructure improvements with, and funded by, Transport for London as part of the Quietways programme.

We held a series of drop-in events on our floating visitor centre 'Jena' for people to find out more about the proposed improvements and the benefits they will bring.

You can view the exhibition boards here

Getting rid of the muddy puddles

Following feedback from stakeholders the design work was completed for the towpath and access improvements. For more detailed information click here. The delivery schedule has been revised and the remaining improvements will be delivered between 2018 and 2020.

The towpath improvements are now underway and have been completed through Ladbroke Grove to Old Oak Lane and through Alperton.

Old Oak towpath: quietways

Alperton towpath: quietways

Work is currently underway between Hayes and West Drayton and the remaining improvements will be delivered between 2018 and 2020.

Get involved and give us your feedback

Find out how you can get involved in the project and looking after the West London Canals – love your canal and it will love you back! While with help from Transport for London we'll be able to transform the towpath of the Grand Union Canal and Paddington Arm, keeping it neat and tidy is down to the Trust - and we need your help to do this.

You might be part of a community group wanting to create a towpath garden, to adopt a stretch of towpath or even to volunteer for the Trust. There is more information about all of these on the volunteering pages of our website, and we’d love to hear from you - please do drop us a line through our email: Quietway@canalrivertrust.org.uk 

Upcoming improvements

Work is currently underway between Hayes and West Drayton in phases where we are providing a two metre wide surface.

With the help of Hillingdon Council we have recently improved the towpath between Shackles Dock just east of Station Road, Hayes and the Great Western Railway Bridge, providing a wider level surface.

From October 2018, following this Hillingdon Council will again be helping us to widen and surface the towpath between Stockley Park and Horton Bridge Road, which will complete a one kilometre section between Old Stockley Road and Horton Bridge Road. After that they will continue the widening and surfacing from Horton Bridge Road on to Yiewsley High Street (Colham Bridge) near West Drayton Station.

This towpath currently has gravel surfaces of varying widths, which will be upgraded to provide a smoother, wider and more level surface along its length. Each section is expected to take four to six weeks.

Also from October onwards, there will be towpath improvement works being undertaken on the Grand Union Paddington Arm between Beaconsfield Road, Southall, south to Bull’s Bridge at the junction with the mainline of the Grand Union Canal, which are expected to take 8 to 12 weeks.

The canal will remain open to boaters during this work, but the towpath may need to be closed or narrowed in stages to enable the improvements. Diversion routes for pedestrians/cyclists will be in place if needed and signed with information also provided on our website.

We've already cut back hedges and trees that are currently growing over the existing towpath. Our usual schedule of winter tree maintenance will be starting again from October.

The remaining improvements will be delivered between 2019 and 2020.

More project updates will be provided here through the course of the improvements. For any queries or comments in the meantime, please contact: Quietway@canalrivertrust.org.uk


Quietways are being established by Transport for London (TfL), the London Boroughs, The Royal Parks and the Canal & River Trust to create a network of quiet cycle routes throughout London.

Quietways will link key destinations by following backstreet routes, parks, tree-lined streets and also our waterway towpaths. The routes will be quieter, low-traffic routes, creating a much improved environment for cyclists who want to travel at a more gentle pace.

A Quietway route is proposed along the Grand Union Canal between Paddington and West Drayton, bringing significant towpath improvements including better surfaces, wider paths, improved access points and more helpful signage. This will not only benefit cyclists, but make sure that the wide variety of visitors to our waterway can enjoy a life that's better by water.

To learn more about Transport for London’s Quietways programme across the Capital, visit: TFL Quietways

Last date edited: 15 January 2019