Rosie Tharp, our Strategic Cycle Routes project coordinator talks about our Share the Space Campaign.
Here in London we launched the Share the Space Campaign in 2012 as the capital’s towpaths were becoming increasingly busy. The campaign was pretty straight forward, asking people to be considerate to one another.
Towpaths across the country are becoming more popular- it’s a nice to problem to have but does mean people can end up vying for space and priority. It became clear that the Trust needed a national towpath policy to set out principles of towpath use.
Using the Share the Space and towpath code that we had in London as a basis for developing the policy, we launched a national consultation in March 2014 which ran for a couple of months. There was a massive response (over 2,000 people).
Having worked for the Trust on cycling routes in London for a couple of years, if I’m honest I was expecting there to be a lot of anti-cycling responses to the consultation. Actually, the majority of people who responded had positive experiences.
Obviously it’s not all Rosie and some people had negative experiences. But, they tended to blame the individual for the incident rather than tarring all anglers/boaters/pedestrians/ cyclists etc. with the same brush. Very grown up, I’m sure you’ll agree!
A lot of people had suggestions about how to encourage considerate behaviour but also recognised that it is very difficult to change bad behaviour. There are things that we can do as an organisation- better infrastructure, better signs and encouraging better behaviour. Ultimately though, it’s down to everyone who visits these special places to treat other people with respect.
It’s been great working with colleagues and volunteers to come up with innovative ways to promote the new campaign and get some publicity- so watch out for exciting stunts and events coming to a canal near you soon!
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