Image courtesy of the Canal & River Trust.

New canal towpath code launched

‘Share the Space, Drop your Pace’ is a new campaign by the Canal & River Trust promoting a guide to considerately sharing our East End towpaths with other people, pets and wildlife.

In East London, we’re lucky to be served by a number of waterways that intersect our urban landscape and offer a different perspective on the people, housing and businesses that make up our metropolis. 

The Canal & River Trust, the charity which manages the network of canals across the UK, has launched a new common-sense guide to promote the kind and considerate use of canal towpaths.

Our local waterways were once the industrial hub that transported goods such as fuel and building materials, and the towpaths were originally designed for a horse to pull a barge. 

Today, the Regent’s Canal and the Hertford Union Canal are spaces where recreation produces a buzz of human life against a backdrop of nature. And if you’re from the area, you’ll know that the thin paths can get very busy. 

The Canal & River Trust’s new guide, ‘Share the Space, Drop your Pace’ lays out simple guidance about how to use the towpath considerately, reminding the public that pedestrians always have priority and that cyclists must slow down for other towpath users. 

Amid the recent boom in E-bikes and E-scooters on the streets of East London, the guide clarifies which vehicles are allowed on the canals: Wheelchairs, mobility aids, cycles and unmodified e-bikes are all welcome, but e-scooters, motorbikes, and unauthorised e-bikes are prohibited. 

It also reminds dog owners to keep their dogs under control and to clean up after them. After all, while you might enjoy the canal for an hour or two, the towpaths are home to many boat dwellers and local wildlife. 

And with prices soaring in pubs, the canals are an increasingly popular spot for an after-work drink in the sunshine. While this is welcome, you are reminded to clear away all your litter and take it home if the bins are full. 

Though much of the guidance from The Canal & River Trust might seem self-explanatory, the towpath code is a good reminder to show respect and kindness to other people, pets and wildlife enjoying our historic waterways that are essential to the East End. 

You can find the new code in full at 

For a window into the lives of those living on our waterways, find our photo essay of barge portraits on the Regent’s Canal. 

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