Briefing Note: Cycling on Towpaths
This briefing note sets out The Inland Waterways Association’s views on the use of towpaths for cycling.
IWA acknowledges the wider benefits of encouraging more of the population to cycle for recreational and transport purposes. The use of bicycles on towpaths is long established, and using a bicycle to ride to and from locks can minimise use of water and reduce delays and can also be a useful means of getting help in emergency situations.
In recent years, the introduction of all terrain leisure cycles and the introduction of long-distance cycling routes have created increased demand for new or continuing use of towpaths as cycle routes. While waterway towpaths can seem like a safer place than the roads for cycling, there are different and sometimes unexpected hazards that cyclists need to be aware of.
IWA supports sedate cycling on suitable towpaths by individuals, families and small groups. Commuter and recreational cycling should only take place where the safety of the rider can be assured, and it does not compromise the safety and enjoyment of other users. Although there is no specific speed limit for cyclists on waterway towpaths, cyclists should slow down and consider all other users of the towpath. Cyclists must take particular care when passing walkers and anglers, and cyclists must be prepared to dismount. In busy locations cyclists may find it quicker to use the nearest road as an alternative route.
[The photo shows cycling on the towpath – by Paul Downey]