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Heartland

Canal Company rules for the towpath

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The BCN had limited access points such as Gas Street and Snow Hill. The building of the new access points were started by BW. Some were quite innovative like the Love Lane access on the Digbeth Branch which was not well suited for the cyclist!

 

 

 

633461.jpg

 

I recall that in 1963 the door on Littles Lane adjacent to the boatmans chapel gave access to the BCN at the Top Lock

 

Edited by Heartland

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On 20/08/2019 at 13:20, max's son said:

A few years back you used to have to pay BW for a cycle permit to use the towpath and display it

 

The problem is who is going to stop people to ask for their permit and is the cost of doing so worth it, when it was only £5

for the yearly permit

Mine use to be free, every year I use to go into the yard at maffers and just ask for one, as we did alot of cycling both while boating and not boating it use to be useful against grumpy fishermen who use to block all the towpath with there stuff, use to have to carry my bike over there stuff, it was useful when they said I have a licence to fish and I could respond with yes but not block the path and i also have a licence it's right here and point at it hanging on the bike

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On 28/08/2019 at 15:21, Heartland said:

The BCN had limited access points such as Gas Street and Snow Hill. The building of the new access points were started by BW. Some were quite innovative like the Love Lane access on the Digbeth Branch which was not well suited for the cyclist!

 

 

 

633461.jpg

 

I recall that in 1963 the door on Littles Lane adjacent to the boatmans chapel gave access to the BCN at the Top Lock

 

 

Or disabled people!

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5 hours ago, billybobbooth said:

Mine use to be free, every year I use to go into the yard at maffers and just ask for one, as we did alot of cycling both while boating and not boating it use to be useful against grumpy fishermen who use to block all the towpath with there stuff, use to have to carry my bike over there stuff, it was useful when they said I have a licence to fish and I could respond with yes but not block the path and i also have a licence it's right here and point at it hanging on the bike

Use to get mine from Braunston Stop House, came with a little plastic wallet to clip on the bike

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On 28/08/2019 at 15:21, Heartland said:

The BCN had limited access points such as Gas Street and Snow Hill. The building of the new access points were started by BW. Some were quite innovative like the Love Lane access on the Digbeth Branch which was not well suited for the cyclist!

 

 

 

633461.jpg

 

I recall that in 1963 the door on Littles Lane adjacent to the boatmans chapel gave access to the BCN at the Top Lock

 

My BCN guide book, published in 1969, shows the towpath access points, as there were so few of them then. I annotated my copy to show a few more that were there by the mid 70s, when I started walking the BCN towpaths.

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22 minutes ago, billybobbooth said:

Yer that the one

Mine (early 1980s) came from Little Venice IIRC, I thought it cost £10 for a year but I could be wrong, and no plastic wallet so it went in my pocket. Was nice on occasions when some righteous person stopped me to tell me I wasn't allowed to cycle on the towpath...

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36 minutes ago, IanD said:

Mine (early 1980s) came from Little Venice IIRC, I thought it cost £10 for a year but I could be wrong, and no plastic wallet so it went in my pocket. Was nice on occasions when some righteous person stopped me to tell me I wasn't allowed to cycle on the towpath...

Maybe as a boater they were free?

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On 20/08/2019 at 17:43, David Schweizer said:

I cannot be certain whether it applies to all Canal towpaths, but certainly the Canal sections of the K & A are not a public right of way, what the public has is what is known as "Permitted Access" which can be withdrawn at any time by the Navigation Authority. I discovered this during the Foot and Mouth outbreak some years ago, when I was Parish Clerk  and had to organize the temporary closure of all footpaths, and the placement of notices, in the Parish. As part of the process I had to contact all landowners who had public footpaths on their land, the longest of which was the canal towpath from Dundas Aqueduct to Avoncliffe Aqueduct.  I contacted BW who informed me that they were already in the process of closing the towpath under the "Permitteed Access" provisions. I checked the accuracy of BW's assertion with the County Council Rights of Way Officer, who confirmed that the information given to me by them was correct

This may have been true at the time of the F&M outbreak (2001?), but now the K&A seems to be the opposite.  The  Ordnance Survey show that, except for a few miles at each end, there is a public right of way (footpath) along the entire K&A towpath.  Similarly for some long stretches of the GU.

 

But I agree that many others are still "Permitted Access" only.

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1 hour ago, Cheese said:

 The  Ordnance Survey show that, except for a few miles at each end, there is a public right of way (footpath) along the entire K&A towpath.  Similarly for some long stretches of the GU.

 

So a right of way on foot, but still "permitted access" only on a bike.

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A public right of way that is classified as a Footpath, does not allow the use of vehicles or carriages. Some of which might be bicycles or a Sedan chair. "Permitted access" does not seem to be soleley for bicycles, but access on foot. For bicycles the authority owning the towpath would need to be approached for permission.

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I suspect that the identification of the K&A towpath being a "Public Right of Way" on the Ordnance Survey maps is a simplification of what actually remains "Permitted Access" . The difference between either definition is probably not discernible to most of the public. To use both, or either, term on a map would lead to uneccessary confusion.

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49 minutes ago, David Schweizer said:

I suspect that the identification of the K&A towpath being a "Public Right of Way" on the Ordnance Survey maps is a simplification of what actually remains "Permitted Access" .

 

I would be surprised if that is the case. OS maps usually have a footnote to the effect that public rights of way shown on the map are taken from the definitive maps maintained by the local highway authorities, and that any other road or track shown on the map is no evidence of the existence of a right of way.

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3 hours ago, Derek R. said:

A public right of way that is classified as a Footpath, does not allow the use of vehicles or carriages. Some of which might be bicycles or a Sedan chair. "Permitted access" does not seem to be soleley for bicycles, but access on foot. For bicycles the authority owning the towpath would need to be approached for permission.

 

Apart from where the towpath is a public right of way, all access is by permission only. That said, CRTBW have generally granted access for pedestrians, cyclists, wheelchair users and the like (but not for cars or motorcycles), as evidenced by the withdrawal of the cycling permits which used to apply. I'm pretty sure that some of the Sustrans/Local Authority funded towpath upgrades have been subject to an agreement  which provides pedestrian/cycle access except when closures are required for maintenance etc.

In general BW/CRT have preferred tjhis approach, as making the towpath a public right of way means that full highway closure procedures are required whenever the towpath is closed for maintenance.

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6 hours ago, David Mack said:

 

I would be surprised if that is the case. OS maps usually have a footnote to the effect that public rights of way shown on the map are taken from the definitive maps maintained by the local highway authorities, and that any other road or track shown on the map is no evidence of the existence of a right of way.

This is true. The Definitive Map and Statement as held in County Halls is the more accurate source of rights of way. Though even their accuracy has been slow to be updated even from before the 1960's as Councils have held that 'more important' matters had occupied their time. Much of that, however, did not directly affect the canals, it was largely down to re-classifying old carriageways, bridleways and footpaths in order to save councils and parishes of the financial burden of upkeep. Downgrading was the usual practice, as vehicular Highways left the responsibility of keeping them open and the surface maintained down (in the main) to County Councils.

 

From memory former OS maps carried a caveat that Rights of Way shown wre not necessarily proof of status, and that Local Authorities should be checked for an up to date status. Current ones carry a similar caveat, and refer to 2011 as the most recent date of amendments.

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10 hours ago, David Mack said:

 

Apart from where the towpath is a public right of way, all access is by permission only. That said, CRTBW have generally granted access for pedestrians, cyclists, wheelchair users and the like (but not for cars or motorcycles), as evidenced by the withdrawal of the cycling permits which used to apply. I'm pretty sure that some of the Sustrans/Local Authority funded towpath upgrades have been subject to an agreement  which provides pedestrian/cycle access except when closures are required for maintenance etc.

In general BW/CRT have preferred tjhis approach, as making the towpath a public right of way means that full highway closure procedures are required whenever the towpath is closed for maintenance.

That would certainly be the case for the K&A towpath, which is a Sustrans shared pathway. To the general public it is effectively a Public Right of Way, which remains conditional on Sustrans and the County Council contributing towards maintenance. I still doubt that it has been legally re-designated as a Public Right of Way in the conventional manner, and having dealt with a couple of Public Footpath diversion cases, I know that it requires a lot of Legal consultation with every Parish Council on route, and a formal Highways Committee decision. I would guess that if maintenance funding was withdrawn,  it would automaticly revert to a Permitted Access path, because it is unlikely that BW/C&RT would have relinquished that right.

 

 

Edited by David Schweizer

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15 hours ago, Derek R. said:

A public right of way that is classified as a Footpath, does not allow the use of vehicles or carriages. Some of which might be bicycles or a Sedan chair. "Permitted access" does not seem to be soleley for bicycles, but access on foot. For bicycles the authority owning the towpath would need to be approached for permission.

Are those using Sedan chairs expected to alight and walk when passing under bridges or can they ignore the signs as cyclists mostly do?

 

 

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On 08/11/2019 at 12:27, frahkn said:

Are those using Sedan chairs expected to alight and walk when passing under bridges or can they ignore the signs as cyclists mostly do?

 

 

In theory I don't think cyclists are entitled to ignore the signs, because someone riding a bicycle is a vehicle.

There is a famous legal precedent  to say that once a cyclist has dismounted and is walking pushing their bike they are no longer a vehicle, namely Crank v Brooks (1980). In that case I think someone pushing a bike across a pedestrian crossing was run down by a car, the driver of which tried to argue that the person run over was a vehicle. This notion was sensibly rejected.

I've never seen a sedan chair in actual use outside of TV and film, on a towpath or anywhere, but who knows whether it happens in the modern world, let alone what the law has to say about it? Anyone?

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The Sedan Chair inclusion was not because of their use in modern times, but because they were mentioned in the contemporary law of the day, though that law was made in a time when even Sedan Chairs were hardly in broad evidence. Nonetheless, they were included.

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On 08/11/2019 at 00:05, David Mack said:

 

Apart from where the towpath is a public right of way, all access is by permission only. That said, CRTBW have generally granted access for pedestrians, cyclists, wheelchair users and the like (but not for cars or motorcycles), as evidenced by the withdrawal of the cycling permits which used to apply. I'm pretty sure that some of the Sustrans/Local Authority funded towpath upgrades have been subject to an agreement  which provides pedestrian/cycle access except when closures are required for maintenance etc.

In general BW/CRT have preferred tjhis approach, as making the towpath a public right of way means that full highway closure procedures are required whenever the towpath is closed for maintenance.

Many towpaths (though not all) were recorded as public rights of way under the National Parks and Access to Countryside Act 1948, despite vigorous opposition from the British Transport Commission. BW continued to consider all towpath use as by their consent only, regardless, but there was no legal merit to that, post the publication of the Definitive Maps & Statements under the Act.

 

It might also help understanding of the topic to note that the legal situation was altered yet again under the terms of the Transfer Order of 2012. As the ‘Explanatory Document’ to the Order states:

 

The Trust Settlement also requires the CRT to grant free pedestrian access to the towpath (except in certain very tightly defined circumstances and again with the prior consent of the Secretary of State, following public consultation and, in the case of towpath in Wales, after consulting the Welsh Ministers).

. . .

Free Public Access The right to free access to towpaths for pedestrians will be enshrined in the Trust Settlement. In addition, CRT will publish a policy on access and leisure on the waterways and their towpaths. The policy will in particular set out how CRT will as a general rule ensure pedestrian access free of charge and the extent of necessary qualifications from the general rule for operational/maintenance purposes and control of access at some tourist sites. It will also deal with the promotion of cycling and partnerships to improve the cycling environment.

 

https://www.legislation.gov.uk/ukdsi/2012/9780111521045/pdfs/ukdsiem_9780111521045_en.pdf

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The CRT code, as observed elsewhere in this forum, has limited the speed of cyclist and has given priority to pedestrians, yet a code is not a law or by-law and with no practical enforcement now puts the pedestrians and boaters at risk from the actions of some cyclists. Many benefits have been made to towpath users with the Transfer Order and hopefully will continue to do so. Cyclist organisations promote the opportunities that give cyclists access to places of beauty and historic interest. Those who cycle for leisure use, for the most part respect the rules. But not all cyclists are there for leisure purposes. Those who commute by cycle to work use the improved towpaths and many do not limit their speed, be that on the footpath or towpath. In the canal environment they ring the bells, shout or force their way past people. It is this sad state of affairs that is driving the pedestrian away from the waterway and through their abuse free access to the towpath has lost a measure of its impact.     

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