This month the Lagan Valley Regional Park 2012 Towpath Initiative will promote a Towpath Code to make the route safer for the million walkers, runners and bikers who now use it every year.
Andy Bridge, Park Manager of Lagan Valley Regional Park explained that concerns have been raised by members of the public over inconsiderate behaviour.
“The 11-mile Lagan Towpath connecting Stranmillis, Belfast with Sprucefield, Lisburn qualifies as the most popular public pathway in Northern Ireland, this success brings with it the problem of managing such a large number of users.”
And in support of this initiative the all female multi-sport team, the Bike Dock Belles, will be fitting free bells to the bikes of all who want them.
On 2 days – Friday 20th and Saturday 21st July, the Bikedock Belles and others will be promoting the initiative at Shaw’s Bridge. And if cyclists don’t have a bell on their bike, and if they are agreeable, the Belles will fit one free of charge.
The towpath code is not new but few seem to be aware of it and there have been tetchy exchanges between pedestrians and runners and cyclists after near collisions.
A particular danger on the towpath is that someone might fall into the river. This has already happened on a few occasions.
The main point of the code is to encourage people to use their bells to warn walkers of their approach and keep everyone safe.
Derek Armstrong of Bike Dock, says, ‘You would think it was a simple thing, but on the one hand you have some riders who think they are too cool to have a bell on the bike and at the other you have those who have one but are too polite to use it. We say, have it and use it. It isn’t rude, it is good cycling manners.’
Other cycling groups are supporting the Towpath Code too. These include the sustainable transport charity, Sustrans, Outdoor Recreation NI and the Cycling Tourists Club (CTC). The police are behind it too.
Constable Gerard Keenan, Balmoral Neighbourhood Policing Team said, ”The initiative is all about education, not just enforcement. We will be reminding cyclists that even though the towpath is part of the National Cycle Network, pedestrians have the right of way.”