Members from the Canal & River Trust were meeting people on the towpath in Brindley Place during the Share the Space, Drop your Pace campaign. Many volunteers were taking surveys and encouraging pedestrians, cyclists and other people to share the limited space along canal towpaths.
During the event on Thursday 8th October, the charity asked people about priorities on towpaths. Nick Cleaver, Community Engagement Co-ordinator of Canal & River Trust, explained:
“For us the first priority is the slowest moving thing, in this case the pedestrian”.
In 2014 the Canal & River Trust invested £8m improving 2,000 miles of waterways across England and Wales and they are planning a further £10m spending for the next 12 months.
What started as volunteering communities where the canal passes, now has become a sustainable network allowing pedestrians, runners, dog walkers, cyclists, boaters and animals to enjoy the same narrow paths.
The number of visitors has increased throughout the years reaching over 360 million visits in 2014, with an average of 31 million in the West Midlands.
However, the Trust’s main concern is cyclists. After upgrading canal towpaths to be suitable for cycling, some of them are reluctant to drop their speed under 20 mph.
Nick Cleaver said:
“We really want cyclists to use towpaths, we only ask them to think about it”.
Canal & River Trust Development and Engagement Manager, Bashir Ahmed, added:
“It’s a small space and we don’t want any conflict. A problem we have is cyclists but we don’t want to say to them”.