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Image: Dan Bailey
Canal path and cycling

The canal path and cycling - remember pedestrians have priority

Image copyright Maree Coates.

The towpath which runs along the Leeds to Liverpool canal is owned by British Waterways. It's a great place to walk and it is also a cycle path. However, pedestrians have priority. There is a code of conduct for using the towpath and it's here below, extracted from the River and Canal Trust website. All commonsense stuff, but unfortunately, there are a few inconsiderate and irresponsible people out there - so take care when you're walking or cycling along the canal towpath.

The Greenway Code for Towpaths

Share the space - consider other people and the local environment whenever you’re on a Greenway. Remember some people may move less predictably, for example young children or those with visual or mobility impairments.
Drop your pace - considerate sharing of the limited towpath space is the key. Jogging and cycling are welcome, but drop your pace in good time and let people know you are approaching by ringing a bell or politely calling out before waiting to pass slowly.
Pedestrians have priority - towpaths are ‘Greenways’ or shared use routes where pedestrians have priority and vehicles, except bicycles and mobility aids, are generally excluded. 
Be courteous to others – A smile can go a long way. Abusive or threatening behaviour is not acceptable and should be reported to the Police.
Follow signs and obey local by-laws - they are there for the safety of everyone. Cyclists should dismount where required and use common sense in busy or restricted areas, recognising that pedestrians have priority. 
Give way to oncoming people beneath bridges whether they are on foot or bike and be extra careful at bends and entrances where visibility is limited.
When travelling in large groups, especially if you are running or cycling, please use common sense and give way to others.
Try to avoid wearing headphones as this makes you less aware of your surroundings possible hazards and others sharing the same space.
Keep dogs under control - ideally using a short lead on busy towpaths and clean-up after them. Dog fouling is very unpleasant and is a health hazard.
At all times, keep children close to you and encourage them to learn and follow the Greenway Code for Towpaths.

Considerate cycling
Follow these hints and tips for a trouble-free cycle ride.
  • Avoid cycling where your tyres would damage the path or verges (e.g. when they are wet or soft).
  • Give way to others on the towpath and warn them of your approach. A polite 'hello' and 'thank you' mean a lot.
  • Watch out for anglers' tackle and give them time to move it before you try to pass.
  • Never race one another or perform speed trials. If you need to get somewhere quickly, use a road.
  • We recommend you obtain third party liability insurance and equip your bike with a bell or equivalent.

Staying safe

  • You should always take care when cycling by the water, particularly near
    locks and other areas of deep water.
  • Access paths can be steep and slippery. Join or leave the towpath with care.
  • You must get off and push your cycle beneath low or blind bridges, and where the path is very narrow.
  • We recommend that you do not cycle towpaths after dark, but if you do, please use front and rear lights. Look out for mooring ropes and pegs where boats are tied up.
  • Thorny hedge trimmings can cause a puncture at some times of year, particularly spring. When cycling in rural areas, always take a spare inner tube or puncture repair kit, and consider plastic-reinforced tyres.



  • Bingley (Br 203)to Saltaire (Br 207A) 3.0 kms
    Take extra care - a stretch regularly used by many walkers.
    Dismount under all stone arch bridges.
  • Shipley (Br 210) to Apperley Bridge (Br 214) 5.1 kms
    Take extra care - dismount under all stone arch bridges.
  • There are ducks, geese and swans feeding along the canal, often gathered in groups on the towpath. Take care. An aggressive cyclist didn't slow down and ran over a duck leaving it in agony until it died.
  • The towpath running through Saltaire can often by very busy, especially during the Saltaire Festival (annually in September).




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