Novice towpath cyclist? Welcome to the Trust’s expert tips for two-wheeled adventurers.
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. There are a few things to bear in mind before you begin cycling along a waterway.
Thorny 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
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. 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.
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 visibility is 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. Cyclists should dismount where required and use common sense in busy or restricted areas, recognising that pedestrians have priority.
Wear lights after dark
We recommend that 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.
Words: Abigail Whyte
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