MY WIFE AND I have just returned from a twoweek cruise from our base in West Drayton through London to the River Lee as far as Stanstead Abbots and back.
We last did this trip in 2011, the year before the Olympics, and were astonished at the changes that have happened since our last visit, sadly not for the better. The most noticeable was the seemingly endless lines of rather shabby uncared-for boats. As I cruised along, the thought occurred to me that if we were unfortunate to experience an emergency such as a fire, there would be nowhere to pull in against the bank to deal with it.
The other more pressing problem is towpath cyclists tearing along with no regard for their own or, more importantly, my personal safety! I lost count of the number of times we were both startled by cyclists passing at speed with no warning whatsoever.
In my opinion, the Canal & River Trust is wasting its time erecting signs asking cyclists to show respect, dismount or to ‘be nice, ring twice’ since hardly any of them take any notice. But I suppose that when the inevitable happens and someone is seriously hurt and lawyers become involved, they can at least show that they had attempted to show a duty of care by putting up such signs.
I feel that, with the benefit of hindsight, improving the towpath surface has been a retrograde step as it facilitates cyclists to speed with ease. When the paths were potholed, they had natural traffic calming.
NIGEL FIRTH, via email