AS vice-chair of the Leeds and Liverpool Canal Society, having an expert background in epidemiology and public well being, and as a eager bike owner, your report on the ‘Pandemic surge in biking and strolling’ ticked all my containers. Might I take the chance so as to add a few factors to your report?
The primary is the apparent want that comes with elevated use of the towpath for a heightened sense of social consciousness by towpath customers.
Earlier correspondence within the Keighley Information has reported antagonisms between cyclists and walkers on the improved stretch of the towpath into Skipton. Biking is not the one potential supply of battle between customers. There may be the issue of canine walkers that depart little presents of plastic baggage alongside the best way, and there may be the issue of runners – and occasional walkers – with headphones that block out the sound of the bell of an approaching bike (to not point out the music of hen life). In all instances, as I can testify from my each day cycle trip, it’s a vital minority of customers that fail to behave socially responsibly; however it’s their remoted behaviours which are inclined to stigmatise all the members inside their person group, resulting in a lot wider and utterly pointless antagonisms between these teams.
The second level is the difficulty of funding.
Duty for upkeep of each canal and towpath rests with the Canal & River Belief. Since its conversion from British Waterways, the belief receives a diminishing stage of central funding. Your report fairly rightly recognized the vital position that the canal towpath can play in an built-in transport system. Might I add to this the essential position that the towpath does play in enhancing well being and wellbeing. I often describe the part of the towpath which runs previous our home as ‘the most effective free fitness center on the planet’. However nothing is genuinely free; and the majority of the income collected by the belief presently comes from boaters – one other main supply of antagonism, as boaters really feel that they pay for the maintenance of the towpath. It has been gratifying to see organisations similar to Sustrans making a contribution on behalf of cyclists and it has been good to see an growing consciousness from native councils of the final contribution that canals and their towpaths could make to enhancing the standard of lifetime of communities residing near the towpath (you solely need to depend the variety of pictures that seem every week within the Keighley Information that includes the canal to understand this). What I might ask is that the canal towpath is seen as an integral element of the general public well being agenda as a lot as it’s of an built-in transport agenda.
And, after all, we should always always remember how a lot we owe to Barbara Citadel, who spent her early life in Bradford and was later MP for Blackburn on the Leeds and Liverpool Canal, for the continued existence of the British waterway system. As Minister of Transport on the time that canals had been in industrial decline, she noticed their potential as “leisureways” and ensured their continuation as such (for canal lovers she is considered the anti-Beeching). At a time when politics is dominated by short-term expediency, you will need to keep in mind the legacy of these uncommon politicians with imaginative and prescient.
Colin Thunhurst, trustee, Leeds and Liverpool Canal Society
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