CRT Launches Consultation on National Towpath Use Policy

CRT Launches Consultation on National Towpath Use Policy

31 March 2014

CRT has launched a consultation as part of the development of a National Towpath Use Policy and has invited towpath users to comment on its proposals.

The aim of the policy is to improve the experience for those who use towpaths in England and Wales, to attract more visitors to regularly use and enjoy the waterways and to encourage shared, safe use of towpaths.

CRT sees the Policy as a form of social contract or memorandum between the Trust and users of its waterways, and explains that the Policy is a shared commitment to conserve and improve the waterways in its care.

CRT aims for the policy to help promote and protect a number of key principles, which include:

  • Towpaths’ established uses in supporting boating, angling, walking and other waterbased activities, should be balanced with their role in connecting places.
  • Towpaths should be free to access for all users who wish to walk, run, fish, cycle etc. and who are committed to behave considerately to other users of the towpaths.
  • Towpaths should be improved where needed, to accommodate increased visits safely and to improve disabled access.
  • The tradition of horse boating is part of the heritage of our waterways and improvements made should follow the guidance for horse boating.
  • Where there are concerns over capacity or underlying condition, towpaths will not be promoted as part of a wider route network.

To meet these principles CRT has identified a number of actions that it plans to undertake. These actions include:

  • Working in partnership with local authorities and local communities to improve and promote the use of its towpaths for a wide range of users through:
    • The delivery of surface improvements in line with CRT’s Towpath Guidance Document including the design of towpaths to encourage safe shared use.
    • The encouragement of local communities to work with CRT to maintain towpaths.
    • The reclamation of towpath width for safer shared use where practical and appropriate.
    • The review of towpath use where there is evidence of conflict.
  • The clear outlining of behaviours expected from towpath users through:
    • The publication and promotion of a Towpath Code.
    • The development of shared use signage.
  • Working with partners to enhance the towpath environment for visitors through:
    • Work with key interest groups.
    • Work with local authorities and the Police.
    • The promotion of alternative routes around the busiest towpaths.

CRT has also acknowledged that towpath users must contribute to efforts to make towpaths enjoyable places to visit. With this, the Policy principles and proposed actions in mind CRT has developed a Towpath Code that, after the consultation, it plans to role out nationally and encourage towpath users to follow. The proposed Towpath Code asks towpath users to remember:

  • Share the space
  • Drop your pace
  • Pedestrians have priority
  • Be courteous to others
  • Follow signs and obey local bye-laws
  • Give way to oncoming people beneath bridges
  • Give way and use common sense
  • Avoid wearing headphones
  • Keep dogs under control
  • At all times, keep children close to you

CRT has asked for towpath users comments on the proposed Towpath Code. All comments should be sent to or alternatively complete CRT’s online response survey. All comments and surveys must be submitted by Friday 2nd May.

Download and read the full consultation document, which lists all principles, proposed actions and the full Towpath Code (PDF, 2.9MB).

More information on IWA's views of Cycling on the towpath is available at IWA's website and in IWA's Cycling Code.

Photo: Cyclists resting (photo by Harry Arnold, Waterway Images)

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