Mainly during the Cycle Woking period (2008-2011) the towpath of the Canal was surfaced between Pirbright and Byfleet where the Canal joins the Wey Navigation. This is a 13 km (9 mile) length of towpath which passes right through Woking Town Centre. Links from the Canal to nearby neighbourhoods, schools and shops were also surfaced and the whole network was signposted. The route has been adopted by Sustrans, who managed the work, as part of the National Cycle Network and is now known as Route 221.
In the long run, when (or if) further money becomes available, the intention is to surface the towpath upstream of Pirbright at least as far as Frimley. This section of canal like the finished section is reasonably straight and will provide an excellent cycle route avoiding the climb over the ranges.
Work on the locks of the Deepcut flight continues and may cause minor diversions from the towpath where the works might make it necessary to close the towpath.
A couple of problems remain with the towpath which we are helping to resolve.
First there is a section of the path near Sheerwater (East of Woking) where the new path has become muddy and slippery. We are working with Sustrans to rectify this problem.
Second there have been a number of conflicts between pedestrians and cyclists along the towpath. A few of these have been quite serious with a dog having to be put down and a lady who was taken to hospital following an accident with a cyclist. The problem is with cyclists travelling too fast past pedestrians. We are working with the Basingstoke Canal Authority to resolve these problems. The timings on the signposts along the route are based on travel at 9 mph which is clearly reasonable. Cyclists must slow down when approaching pedestrians.
The issue of conflicts between pedestrians and cyclists was discussed again at a meeting of the Canal Users’ Forum on 28 March, particularly as there have been problems along the Hampshire parts of the canal as well as through Woking. The Basingstoke Canal Authority are taking a measured and sensible approach to resolving the issue and we are working closely with them. Cyclists need not be alarmed that there will be any restriction of cycling, but we must all continue to cycle slowly and responsibly around pedestrians and speak to those cyclists who do not. Please do speak to any irresponsible cyclists as they could cause problems for all of us.
Weekly Volunteer Group on Basingstoke Canal
The Basingstoke Canal Authority (BCA) are considering setting up a weekly volunteer group to do light work, on a weekly basis, on the canal between Pirbright Bridge and Hermitage Bridge.This is at a very early stage but the outline plan is to work one day a week under the guidance of a local BCA Ranger to help cut the undergrowth back and make the canal and its towpath more appealing to users. As the canal passes through ‘Brookwood Country Park’ in Knaphill I thought there may be some Knaphill residents who may care to join us.If you are interested in joining such a group please contact Kathryn Doddington at firstname.lastname@example.org.