Thursday, 8 May 2014

Discouraging speeding cyclists on the towpath

Herbie Neil blogged about his volunteering work at Little Venice yesterday, handing out leaflets to towpath users. This has prompted me to share my idea about how to control the speed of cyclists, some of whom seem to treat today's better surfaced towpaths - especially in urban areas - as high speed link routes.

Now, I have nothing against cyclists using towpaths. I cycle on them myself. But I always pass pedestrians at slow speed, having given due warning of my presence if approaching from behind.

So what's my idea? When a towpath is resurfaced, rather than make the full width a smooth metalled track, make the smooth bit no more than two feet wide and lay it in a series of curves or zigzags wandering from one side to the other. The rest of the towpath should be a slightly rougher surface such as crushed concrete, but not so rough as to make pushing a baby buggy, say, difficult. I know that, when I'm cycling, I always try to find the smoothest course for my tyres. On a towpath such as that which I have described, I would tend to follow the curved smooth part. Not a problem for reasonable speeds, but were I to try to go too fast I would have to accept either a disconcerting series of transitions between the smooth and the rough, or a wildly oscillating course, both of which would tend to slow me down.

My solution would not attempt to segregate cyclists and pedestrians, and there would be no "right-of-way" for cyclists on the smooth curvy section.

There are bound to be drawbacks, but this is just my idea.

While I'm on the subject, this is a portion of my inner tube after the latest puncture from a thorn on the towpath. There's another patch further round. And, yes, it's from the back wheel.

After I repaired this we passed a couple of coppers - well, a policeman and a PCSO - cycling down the towpath below Stoke Bruerne locks. At one point they'd stopped for a swig from their water bottles and I got them to pose for a photo.

A bit later on, after they'd overtaken us, we caught up with them again. This time, one of their bikes was upside down with the coppers scratching their heads, metaphorically at least.

This is where I stopped and supplied them with a patch, sandpaper and rubber solution.

(The contemporaneous account is here.)


Andrew Tidy said...

Have you ever tried those self repairing inner tubes? Any goood?

Halfie said...

No, Andy, haven't tried them. I did try a kevlar-lined tyre once (a long time ago) but didn't get on with it. It didn't seem any more puncture-resistant than a normal tyre. At present I just make sure I have enough Poundland repair kits to hand!

Dave Winter said...

Try this from Halfords, it works a treat.I use it on my bike and have had no punctures since fitted.[object Object]

Halfie said...

Dave, thanks - I'm not sure how this will protect against punctures. The link is to a rim tape, which goes on the wheel before the inner tube, doesn't it? If it's supposed to go between the inner tube and the tyre why does it have a hole for the valve? I'm confused by the need for a pressure rating too!