To discuss ‘dangerous incidents on the canal’ involving cyclists. Discussion to include consideration of the design and location of warning signs.
Mr Philip Brind had requested that the issue of ‘dangerous incidents’ on the canal, in particular those involving cyclists, be discussed as an item on the agenda.
He explained that the horse drawn barge had had a record number of near misses this year and he was extremely worried about the future of the barge. The issue had been the signage, with one cyclist, who was a solicitor, informing him that the current signage stated that you needed official permission to cycle at all under a bridge, not, as he saw it, that you couldn’t cycle under a bridge. In his opinion signs meant different things to different people. It was impossible to see a horse coming sometimes while going under a bridge. Large numbers of cyclists had encountered the horse on the other side over the past year. Often the cyclists had children riding on the back of the bicycle presenting even more of a danger. He stated that he would be speaking to DCC about the possibility of a horse boat zone to provide an opportunity to inform passengers and users of the canal about the increased risks involved.
Cllr L G J Kennedy stated that he used the Canal daily with his wife and the potential to get knocked over by a cyclist was a serious problem and getting increasingly worse. He circulated an A4 poster showing the international sign, also in the Highway Code, for ‘no cycling’ and suggested that this simple sign would be more visible and a better alternative. He further suggested that, whilst ‘no cycling’ under bridges would be impossible to enforce, 85% of people would comply.
The Canal Manager explained that this issue had been discussed by the JAC on several occasions and agreed that the situation had become serious enough to warrant consideration of alternative signage. The Public Rights of Way and Country Parks Manager stated that legal considerations needed to be born in mind when creating signage but that a version of a simpler more obvious sign might be possible. She also stated that the County worked with organisations that were promoting sustainable travel. They also had social media contacts and perhaps this could be used as a method for encouraging safer cycling on the Canal. She further stated that there were different issues at each end of the Canal and a change in signage would need to accommodate these differences. Changes to signage would need to be managed in a careful and thoughtful way.
A brief discussion took place regarding the Canal now being used for cycle time and track trials which brought a whole new level of potential danger. Some cyclists were very considerate whilst there were an increasing number who were not.
Cllr R F Radford stated that he would be prepared to allocate some of his locality budget to the costs involved of changing signage on the part of the Canal in his area.
It was RESOLVED that a Working Group be established to consider changes to the current signage. The Working Group to consist of:
· Philip Brind (The Tiverton Canal Company)
· A representative from Cycling UK
· Dion Howells (Community Patrol Boat)
· Cllr Lance Kennedy (MDDC) who volunteered to chair the group
· Graham Moore (Canal Business Group)
· Chrissy Parker (The Four Villages Environmental Group)
· Mark Baker (Canal Manager)