Canalside capers.

Yesterday l nearly ran over a cocker spaniel – as it leapt in the air to try and catch a bird – directly in front of my bike.

The owner was a jogger – someway back from the dog. We were all sharing the towpath – beside the Kennet and Avon Canal – which passes through the city of Bath towards the River Avon.

The new ‘Pedestrian Priority’ signs that have gone up along the towpath.

The Canal and River Trust have put up signs saying pedestrians take priority on this shared pathway – a section of which was recently upgraded – but says nothing about control of dogs.

I have seen (and appreciate) so many responsible owners with their dogs on leads – or obediently called to heel when a bike approaches – but sometimes encounter packs of free running pets – enjoying their  unfettered freedom while the owners stand elsewhere in a group having a chat.

Does the priority extend also to walkers with dogs on or off leads? Joggers?

Not to mention mums with children in push chairs – a dog somewhere off the lead – and their attention focused on the mobile phone call they are making. In charge of what??

I will admit not every bike rider is responsible in terms of speed or due warning. Not all of them even carry a bell amongst the lycra and carbon fibre that must have cost a pretty penny,  but can l just remind people this towpath upgrade was paid for with money from a ‘cycle grant’ that B&NES decided to use on the project.

That most certainly gives cyclists a right to be here. Shared space does NOT work. Why oh why cannot B&NES and Co do what so many other European countries do and that is define spaces for cyclists by colour. A bit of that on the London Road would not go amiss.

In the meantime comments invited on this report from the BBC’s website about not using dog poo bags in the countryside.

I cannot for the life of me see why someone who has taken the trouble to bag it cannot hang on to it until a rubbish bit is reached.



  1. Resurfacing the towpath was something that CycleBath felt was not a good use of ‘cycle’ money given that the one big issue was the Grosvenor Bridge access path/ramp that the council had already planned to fund that year. However for any other wheeled user, be it push chair, mobility scooter, or wheelchair, the resurfacing has been transformational.

    People objected to the resurfacing on the grounds of ‘speeding cyclists’, where as the fundemental issue has always been with making a route wheel friendly enough for wheelchairs and mobility scooters. If a path isn’t wheelfriendly, I’ll switch to a MTB. People with accessibility issues just cannot use that route.

    Another thing to consider with doing up the towpath, it’s a very nice leisure route, but the reality is, it’s an isolated, dark path which most women will think twice about using after dark. London Road must become a good cycle route heading both ways on it to affect real change. The towpath, is just a long winding leisure route.

  2. I am a dog owner and I also walk other people’s dogs.
    I quite often walk them along the canal on days when it isn’t busy. It’s a very pleasant walk and my dogs are pretty well behaved. They don’t bark and people often stop to say hello and ask me about their breeds and tell me about their own dog experiences. I pick up every time they poo and often pick up other poo left behind by people who are too lazy to bother. This winds me up and I understand completely how non-dog owners feel. Other walkers are never bothered about the dogs being there and most cyclists are pleasant and understanding if a dog happens to drift into their path. The problems only occur when a cyclist wants to speed along and hasn’t the manners to slow down as they go by the dogs. If you think that dogs are like toddlers and can be a bit unpredictable then it might help to understand them. The resurfacing may have been paid for by a cycling organisation but it was to benefit everyone, not just cyclists. Walkers were a bit anxious when we knew the resurfacing was going ahead as we thought it would result in cyclists speeding up and being more selfish about the towpath. However, most of them are just as nice as ever – it’s just the occasional one who spoils it. The towpath is narrow and there isn’t room to separate walkers from cyclists so we all have to be as calm and understanding as we can. The towpath was built for walking and it is meant to be relaxing. Cyclists with too much adrenaline should find a velodrome to exercise their demons.

    1. Reasoned argument there Josie. Of course the towpath was built for horses initially. Consideration on all sides is called for. It is a safe route – free from fumes – into town.

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