BCA ( Basingstoke Canal Authority) Cycle Policy Statement
The BCA supports sedate cycling on the towpath by individuals, families and small groups. Commuter and recreational cycling should only take place where the safety of the rider can be assured and it does not compromise the safety and enjoyment of other users.
Although there is no specific speed limit for cyclists on waterway towpaths, cyclists should slow down and consider all other users of the towpath. Cyclists must take particular care when passing walkers and anglers, and be prepared to dismount. Cyclists exceeding a speed of approx. 9mph are likely to be going too fast to meet the other criteria. In busy locations cyclists may find it quicker to use the nearest road as an alternative route.
This policy is proposed to be supported by a code of conduct for all towpath users. This has been developed by Canal & Rivers Trust as part of their Share the Space campaign:
Code for Towpath Users
Share the Space– consider other people and the local environment whenever you’re on the towpath.
Drop your pace– jogging and cycling are welcome, but drop your pace in good time and let people know you are approaching by ringing a bell or politely calling out before waiting to pass slowly.
Pedestrians have priority on the towpath, or other shared use areas of Canal land.
Be courteous to others – a smile can go a long way.
Follow signs – they are there for the safety of everyone. Cyclists should dismount where required and use common sense in busy or restricted areas, recognising that pedestrians have priority.
Give way to oncoming people beneath bridges – whether they are on foot or bike and be extra careful at bends and entrances where visibility is limited.
When travelling in large groups – especially if you are running or cycling, please use common sense and give way to others.
Try to avoid wearing headphones – as this makes you less aware of your surroundings, and others sharing the same space.
Keep dogs on a short lead – and clean up after them.
At all times, keep children close to you– and encourage them to learn and follow the Code for Towpaths.
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.
Volunteer Groups on Basingstoke Canal
If you are interested in helping care for the canal there are a number of volunteering opportunities – run by both the Basingstoke Canal Authority (BCA) and the Basingstoke Canal Society (BCS). These range from canal maintenance work parties (on a Tuesday with the BCA) or weekends (with the BCS) to lengthsmen and boat crew at various locations along the canal.
For further information please e-mail the BCA on firstname.lastname@example.org and ask for the Volunteering Handbook.