Quietways - cycling in London

London's towpaths are more popular and being enjoyed more than ever before. We're transforming over 16 miles of towpath between Paddington and West Drayton, working in partnership with Transport for London under the Quietways programme.

People on the towpath

Building on previous improvements between Paddington and West Drayton, we will be providing:

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

The work will bring huge benefits to everyone visiting and enjoying 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

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.

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

We also 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.

Better infrastructure between Paddington and West Drayton

The improvement work will be undertaken from the end of 2016 through to 2018 in phases, starting between Ladbroke Grove and Old Oak Lane and finishing at West Drayton.

Trimming hedges and trees has started along the route to prepare the way for surfacing improvements.

Our floating visitor centre 'Jena' travelled along the canal between West Drayton and Paddington during 23 to 29 October offering a series of drop-in events for people to find out more about the proposed improvements and the benefits they will bring. We had a fantastic turnout, talking to over 1,100 people during 12 events in 10 different locations – thank you all for coming!

If you missed us, you can view the exhibition boards here

Click here to see an overview of the works and for more detailed information click here.

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

The first section of works, lasting around three months, will be starting in January 2017 on the 2km section between Old Oak Lane and the gasworks towers at Ladbroke Grove. This towpath currently has varying surfaces which will be upgraded to provide a smoother, wider and more level surface along its length. Vegetation works have already been completed to cut back hedges and trees that are currently encroaching the existing towpath.

The canal will remain open to navigation during these works, 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 required and signed with information also provided on our website.

We will also be starting in January to improve 2km of towpath between Manor Farm road in Alperton and the North Circular aqueduct. Again, some towpath closures may be required at times with diversions in place. 

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, benefitting not only cyclists but the wide variety of visitors to our waterway.

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

Last date edited: 6 June 2018