Published: 1st April, 2011
by PETER GRUNER
THE Green Party’s candidate for London Mayor, Jenny Jones, spoke out this week against cyclists who use the canal towpaths like a “race track” with “complete disregard” for people who walk.
Ms Jones, 61, a mother of two, said that as a bike enthusiast herself she was “appalled” by the behaviour of some cyclists on the Regent’s Canal in Islington, particularly during peak times.
A former archaeologist, Ms Jones will be running for Mayor of London at elections next year against incumbent Conservative Boris Johnson and Labour candidate, former mayor Ken Livingstone.
One of her main aims is to reduce air pollution in the capital – Islington around the A1 road has one of the worst records – by encouraging more walking and cycling and improving public transport.
“But I accept that we have a problem of conflict between cyclists and walkers on our towpaths at peak times and it must be resolved,” Ms Jones said.
“One [possible solution] would be more ‘kissing gates’ along the towpath, which would mean cyclists would have to dismount.”
During our interview on the towpath of the Regent’s Canal below the Guardian building in York Way last week, Ms Jones and I were regularly forced to move out of the way of speeding cyclists.
“Cyclists have to accept that walkers have right of way and they must be more courteous,” she said.
A Green Party activist for 23 years and a London Assembly member, Ms Jones lives in south London but spends some time on a houseboat moored at King’s Cross, owned by her partner.
“Our canals are our most underused and precious resource,” she said. “The towpaths are a wonderful recreational asset but everyone has a right to use them.”
Del Brenner chairman of the Regents Network and the London Waterways Commission, said he welcomed Ms Jones’s decision to stand for London Mayor.
He added: “She wants to see the canals come back to life, just like we do. Under successive authorities the canals have just become static, looking beautiful, but doing nothing.”
• The next public meeting of the Friends of Regent’s canal is on Wednesday June 1 at the Canal Museum, King’s Cross. More details at www.friendsofregentscanal.org