Saturday, January 22, 2022

Highway code on the towpath

 Who thinks a Dutch Reach is a stretch on the river Amstel?  

Sorry, I've been watching too much Weakest Link. So much nicer without Anne Robinson.

Well the new Highway Code comes into effect in a few days so you need to be practising your Dutch Reach in your car, but does the code apply on the canal towpath?

If you are a boater or a towpath walker you won't need me to tell you what a menace speeding cyclists can be.  When I was volunteering for CRT they would speed through our "Share the Space" awareness road blocks, on more than one occasion aiming straight for me in the process.  I was actually struck a couple of times, once by a motor cyclist. One chap got very indignant blaming me for preventing him from breaking his journey to work speed record.

Well do we have a little bit more legal ammo now? Annex 4 of the new Highway Code states:

It is important to note that references to ‘road’ therefore generally include footpaths, bridleways and cycle tracks, and many roadways and driveways on private land (including many car parks). In most cases, the law will apply to them and there may be additional rules for particular paths or ways. 

Under the new code there are strengthened rules on the hierarchical priority of cyclists and pedestrians, so I dare say that if you are knocked over by a cyclist you might have some improved redress in law against them.  However, statements in the Highway Code are legal requirements when they use the word MUST rather than SHOULD. Sadly, in the bits of the new code that I have read, it states that on shared cycle/pedestrian paths cyclists SHOULD give way to pedestrians.

Will it make a jot of difference to general behaviour?  I'm not all that optimistic but you never know.  Maybe CRT will beef up their signage by pointing to the code's requirements.  That might be a start.

Note to self: Must get back out on the boat soon.


Marilyn, nb Waka Huia said...

We have recently taken up cycling (e-bikes) here at home in NZ, and our experiences as towpath users on foot has primed us for being very considerate bikers.
* I NEVER ring my bell at people as I approach from behind - rather I call out 'Hi there, I'm coming through on the right.'
* I HATE the sound of the bell - it always sounds so peremptory and dominating, i.e. expressing ownership/right of way/priority.
* I stop if the gap is small or if there are little children who could move in any direction ...
* I stop or move around pedestrians rather than expecting them to move out of my way.

When we were boating David often used to ride between locks and always stopped where there were other people on the towpath so he was already in the considerate mode even before we got our e-bikes here in NZ.

I'll be interested to read about any behaviour change in cyclists on the towpaths over the coming summer. So please keep us posted, Neil.

Cheers, Marilyn

Vallypee said...

What is a Dutch Reach, Neil? I'm curious now.

Herbie Neil said...

Apparently it's the technique of opening a car door (from inside) using the hand furthest away, so that your body twists to encourage you to look behind as the door opens.