Threatened on the towpath

You have got to sort things out on the Kennet and Avon Canal towpath – Canal and River Trust .

l was verbally threatened this morning by a jogger – with a dog running in front of him – on the downward incline to Grosvenor Bridge. It was  after sounding my bicycle warning horn – and ignoring my warning – he refused my polite request to call his dog over so l could pass.

The incline up to the towpath.

Telling me all cyclists speed along the towpath – and waving his finger in my face – he told me – with teeth clenched – to remember his.

I took that as making a threat. Must admit l was visibly shaken.

I have in five years always sought to share that path. Have always given warning. I don’t own a flashy bike with all the gear. It is a working machine equipped with the means of warning people.

He told me he has priority. I told him the signs along the towpath say pedestrians and children. I could equally argue the dog was not under proper control.

I will remember his face.

I did not raise my voice or return the swear words he left me with. I could cycle off without the need for a ‘f–k’ off to send me on my way.

Pure aggression. I don’t like it.


  1. Poor you, sorry to hear this.
    I’ve had similar encounters with dog walkers, and a worse one with a group of older women out walking (a walking group I think), who took up the whole width of the towpath coming towards me and instead of moving together as I slowly approached them, spread out further forcing me to fall off my bike. And I was a 59 year old woman dressed to go to a work meeting on a bike decorated with flowers – hardly any kind of ‘boy racer’!
    Fortunately most towpath users aren’t like this, but the significant proportion that are (mostly the dog walkers in my experience) need to learn to behave respectfully towards all other users.

  2. Aggression is never justified but I wondered what you meant by a “warning horn”? I have a zounds horn but I never use it to warn pedestrians of my approach – I use a bell for that, backed up by a cheery “Excuse me, thank you” and am often thanked by walkers for the warning. Just wondering whether this person who is clearly of an unstable disposition was unnerved by your use of a horn.

    1. I have a squeezy bulb horn which l bought because so many people wear earphones and cannot hear my bell. A light touch not a blast – by the way. I always say thank you to people – with or without dogs – who move over to let me pass.

  3. As a dog walker and someone who walked the path with my dog in the 1960s I am getting a little bit tired of the constant complaints about dogs. Back in those long gone days, we rarely saw another walker. I would like to remind cyclists that had it not been for people like me (and my dog), determinedly keeping the path and canal open – and raising money for the K&ACT to do so – there would not be a canal, let alone a path. But that does not excuse criminal behaviour like this. And it is criminal. That’s an assault. People think hitting someone is an assault but legally that’s battery. The threat is the assault. He’s probably just as horrid to walkers and other dog owners. I’ve had problems with other dogs along the canal, and that’s nothing new. My parents’ dog was attacked by another dog one the canal towpath about thirty years ago. Twas ever thus, I fear.

    1. I also have a long history of walking and fund raising for the path, including working as a volunteer clearing the ‘towpath’ back in the mid 1970s.
      I don’t have dog. I often walk and sometimes ride a bike, and I do feel entitled to complain about the small minority of dog owners who don’t control their animals in a public space, as well as the minority of cyclists who speed and the minority of walkers who behave as though they were the only users of the path.
      Surely the issue here is not to point fingers of blame, but to insist upon thoughtful and respectful behaviour from all users of the towpath.

  4. Oh so sorry. It’s another example of the misunderstanding of shared space. I agree some cyclists speed some dog walkers are irritable and phalanxes of walkers are difficult. I have been abused by all of them for as little as saying excuse me and as big as just being present. It would be better if we could get away from narcissism on the top 😑

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