From left: Cllr Alice Perry, Cllr Martin Klute, Pedro Klute and Ian Shacklock
Published: 29 June, 2012
bt PETER GRUNER
A CAMPAIGN to get cyclists on the towpath in Islington to use their bells as a warning has been quietly dropped after walkers complained the ringing was being used to scare them out of the way.
Following the objections, British Waterways (BW) has abandoned the “two ting” scheme after five years. It is being replaced by a new “Share the Space, Drop your Pace” campaign and leaflets were being distributed to cyclists near Wharf Road Bridge – a particular area of conflict – by BW staff this week.
Holloway-based transport author Christian Wolmar, a board member of the London Cycling Campaign, said he hoped it wouldn’t deter cyclists from ringing their bells to warn of their presence. “We do recognise that some cyclists go too fast and try and push walkers out of the way. Both sides have a right to be on the towpath and need education.”
Islington Labour councillor Martin Klute said the “two ting” campaign presented an “ambiguous” message.
Cllr Klute, who rides a bike and was joined by his nine-year-old son Pedro, added: “Cyclists were charging down the towpath at speed and ringing their bells to scare walkers out of the way. That was not meant to happen. Pedestrians are meant to have priority on the towpath and cyclists are meant to slow down to walking speed to pass them.”
Ian Shacklock, chairman of Friends of Regent’s Canal, said he believes a parallel or alternative route close to the canal for cyclists – along stretches where the towpath is narrowest – may be the only way the conflict with walkers can be resolved.
“We suspect lots of people are ending up in the canal but incidents are not reported,” he said.
Cllr Klute said that BW is looking at the possibility of providing alternative routes for commuter cyclists. “But it needs to be as close to the canal as possible and with lots of access points onto to the canal. There will also need to be cycle-calming measures like chicanes to slow cyclists down to walking pace.”
Labour Cllr Alice Perry said everyone should be able to use the towpath but at commuter times it is impossible for pedestrians. “Parents with young children and old people feel intimated by the speeding cyclists and it’s just unfair. I agree we that we need a safe alternative route for cyclists.”
A spokeswoman for BW said the “two-tings” scheme had been picked up enthusiastically as a way of alerting pedestrians but it was perceived as a bit excessive and open to abuse. “The focus has now changed to educate cyclists about sharing the towpath with others,” she said.