Canal & River trust proposes active travel improvements to towpaths

Improvements to several of the UK’s towpaths could be made to help support the country’s cycle and walking revolution.

The Canal & River Trust has approached Government with 30 towpath improvement schemes for inner city and urban areas.

The proposed improvements include places such as Burnley, Wigan, Sheffield, Bradford, Birmingham, Leicester and London. The waterways and wellbeing charity, which looks after 2,000 miles of waterways across England and Wales, is seeking to secure a combination of government and local authority funding for the schemes.

Towpaths are ideally located to provide traffic-free routes in and through many of the UK’s towns and cities, ‘connecting people and places’, according to the Trust. The proposed investment will support more active travel investment in walking is the most green (sustainable) as well as most inclusive (equitable/affordable) option reducing obesity and encouraging lifestyle changes to support better physical and mental health, notably in the many disadvantaged communities with waterways on their doorstep.

Richard Parry, chief executive at Canal & River Trust said: “Britain’s historic canal towpaths saw a massive increase in usage during lockdown as people stayed local and discovered these green/blue linear parks on their doorstep. Post lock-down, for the eight million people living by a canal, this trend has continued with usage up by up to 240%.”

There is a real opportunity to build upon this-in addition to the increase we have seen people fishing, kayaking, paddle boarding and taking hire boat holidays with research showing time spent by water makes people healthier and happier. The proposed improvements will support the Government’s aims of making walking and cycling easier to access and encouraging active travel.”


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