News article created on 10 October 2014

Cycling on the towpath

Novice towpath explorer or seasoned cyclist? Welcome to our expert tips for two-wheeled adventurers.

cycle peddals cycle peddals

Towpaths are beautiful green corridors through towns and cities that connect villages and hamlets without having to deal with cars and buses. They’re also nice and flat, all of which makes them increasingly popular terrain for cyclists.

But - there are a few things to bear in mind before you begin your bike ride along a waterway.

Beware punctures

Thorny bushes and hedge trimmings can cause a puncture, so always take a spare inner tube or puncture repair kit and consider plastic-reinforced tyres if you’re commuting.

Mind you don't damage the paths

Not all our towpaths are made of concrete or tarmac. Many are gravel and even more are just grass. Avoid cycling where your tyres would damage the path or verges – most damage happens when paths are wet or soft.

Use your bell

Cyclists don’t tend to use bells much any more, probably because no-one would hear them over the Number 38 bus. But on the canals, it’s a key part of your kit. So is a smile and a ‘thank you’.

Keep an eye out for anglers

Watch out for anglers' tackle and give them time to move it before you try to pass. We do have guides for anglers on how to keep their kit safely off the path so everyone can enjoy the space.

Give way to oncoming people beneath bridges

Remember that pedestrians have priority. If you encounter oncoming pedestrians or cyclists beneath bridges, give way to them and be extra careful at bends and entrances where your visibility may be limited. It’s a different pace to cycling on the roads.

Follow signs and obey local by-laws

While the majority of our waterways are open to cyclists, please keep an eye out for ‘no cycling’ signs along the way. You may need to dismount where needed and use common sense in busy or restricted areas, recognising that pedestrians have priority.

Wear lights after dark

We recommend you don’t cycle towpaths after dark, but if you do, please use front and rear lights. Look out for mooring ropes and pegs where boats are tied up. 

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