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Petition’s proposals could lure “aggressive” cyclists off the Regent’s Canal “racetrack”

PUBLISHED: 16:31 03 October 2014 | UPDATED: 16:31 03 October 2014

The towpath on the Regent's  Canal. Photo credit Emma Bartholomew

The towpath on the Regent's Canal. Photo credit Emma Bartholomew

Archant

Campaigners wishing to make a “lethal” road junction safer hope the move could pave the way to lure “inconsiderate and aggressive” cyclists off the Regent’s Canal towpath.

Ian Shacklock and Del Brennan at the bridge over the canal, near Hampstead Road Lock in Camden Town.Ian Shacklock and Del Brennan at the bridge over the canal, near Hampstead Road Lock in Camden Town.

An anonymous petition, backed by Friends of Regents Canal group, is calling on Hackney and Islington councils to improve the awkward junction on the borough boundary where Eagle Wharf Road and Poole Street intersect New North Road.

They want the councils to tackle those breaching the 20mph speed limit as they pass over the humpback bridge and to relocate traffic lights there from a spot a hundred yards further south near Hoxton Park.

The junction forms part of an alternative cycle route that cyclists have avoided for years.

Ian Shacklock, chairman of Friends of Regent’s Canal, said: “It is so lethal that it is often cited as a non-negotiable reason for commuters cycling on the towpath.

“As a result the towpath is saturated with commuter cyclists at peak hours.

“If that junction is made safe then that whole route should become viable and then we can try to encourage the more aggressive ones off the towpath.”

Mr Shacklock insisted he was not against recreational cyclists using the towpath, as long as they gave way to pedestrians and gave space to other users, including other cyclists.

But he said he did object to those who “use it as a race track and who couldn’t care less who they offend, hurt or scare off”. He said he believed they belonged on the road.

He added: “I have no powers to force anyone off the towpath but we can use peer pressure and other tactics to lure them off it once the alternative routes are fitter for purpose.

“We will say to them “what’s wrong with the road?” and they won’t be able to use that junction as an excuse.”

Trevor Parsons, co-ordinator for Hackney Cycling Campaign agreed some cyclists using the canal were inconsiderate, but said it would take a raft of measures to reduce east-west motor traffic to make the roads safer for cyclists.

He said: “I’m afraid to say a certain number of commuters who use the towpath do so with far too little regard for pedestrians, and the fact is it should be a tranquil and rural-feeling space.

“But you aren’t going to make an omelette without breaking eggs.

“On these back streets which have become used by a lot of through motor traffic, the only way to deal with them is to design cell areas, and make access only streets for vehicles.

“It’s good to see people spontaneously spotting the things that need to be done, with a sense of urgency, it’s true to say that in Hackney almost everyone wants to cycle.”

n To view the petition see ipetitions.com/petition/make-new-north-road-safe.

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