Wednesday 31 October 2012

Greenway Code for Towpaths

Our friends at CART have published a code for towpath users. A code in which the term towpath that has been in use for about 200 years has been exchanged for "greenway" as an aid to understanding. A play on clearway that carries the subliminal message to users that their is no stopping. Plus a further subliminal message associated with the 1970's children's green cross code which superseded the kerb drill. The roads are dangerous take extra care - now the towpath is dangerous to walk, so take extra care. However, few people would feel comfortable walking a greenway at night. Somehow, I felt there was something missing and I felt the need to add my own notes to aid understanding.

Greenway Code for Towpaths

1 - Share The Space

Consider other people and the local environment whenever you're on a Greenway. Remember some people may move less predictably, for example young children or those with visual or mobility impairments. (People could be easily be slipping, tripping and sliding on mud, dog shit and tripping in holes. As well as tripping on lock bollards, worn steps, cycle wheel ruts, discarded bottles and drinks cans.)

2 - Drop Your Pace

Considerate sharing of the limited towpath space is the key. Jogging and cycling are welcome, but drop your pace in good time and let people know you are approaching by ringing a bell or politely calling out before waiting to pass slowly. (Remember ringing your bell or shouting "shift" will give you right of way. Most people will be happy to leap out of your way and shout words of encouragement after each startling encounter.

3 - Pedestrians Have Priority

Towpaths are ‘Greenways’ or shared use routes where pedestrians have priority and vehicles are generally excluded. (Other than cut down motorcycles carrying several local youths enjoying a day out. Their loud exhaust noise negating any need for a bell. Remember that when travelling at high speed the speed gives automatic priority.)  

4 - Be Courteous To Others

A smile can go a long way. Abusive or threatening behaviour is not acceptable and should be reported to the Police. (However, if you have difficulty in understanding the people you encounter, you could take night classes in various eastern European languages. Learning the use of the local vernacular might also help. Look up colloquial words like ganja, spliff, crack, horse and amphet. )

5 - Follow Signs

Follow signs they are there for the safety of everyone. Cyclists should dismount where required and use common sense in busy or restricted areas, recognising that pedestrians have priority. (Most people on the towpath will now understand the universal, single and two digit signs. But there are also the spray on signs that advocate the use of various substances and it would help to have your very own tag.)

6 - Give Way To Oncoming People Beneath Bridges

Give way to oncoming people beneath bridges whether they are on foot or bike and be extra careful at bends and entrances where visibility is limited. (After you - no after you called out in the style of the chuckle brothers is often considered amusing. Remember, anyone encountered loitering under the bridge is often the agent of the local drugs baron and can supply all kinds of additional recreational materials.)

General Towpath Safety For All

7- Travelling In Groups

When travelling in large groups, especially if you are running or cycling, please use common sense and give way to others. (Travel in groups for mutual protection when carrying items from the local supermarket. It is recommended to have someone on point and someone else as acting as tail end charlie. It is now traditional when leaving the towpath to deposit the supermarket trolley into the canal.)

8 - Avoid Wearing Headphones

Try to avoid wearing headphones as this makes you less aware of your surroundings possible hazards and others sharing the same space. (Such as a thief, robber, mugger, footpads, steaming group, druggies, drunks  or  pick pockets.)  

9 - Dog Etiquette

Keep dogs on a short lead and clean-up after them. Dog fouling is very unpleasant and is a health hazard. (If you don't have or own a short lead, just let your dog run free. Remember a boisterous excitable dog with muddy feet is considered enchanting and will always made welcome.)

10 - Children Etiquette

At all times, keep children close to you and encourage them to learn and follow the Greenway Code for Towpaths. (Point out the value of returnable glass bottles that have been discarded. The scrap value of old bikes and the ever present shopping trolley. Teach them the art of spitting on passing boats and the correct technique for throwing stones.)


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