More bikes for Manchester’s towpaths?
One of China’s largest ‘dockless bike-share’ companies, Mobike, which operates 5 million bikes in China, has announced that it will launch their introduction in Manchester and Salford at the end of June, with an initial 1,000 bikes. Users download an app that displays a map with locations of the GPS-enabled bikes, and then use their phones to unlock the cycle. When riders reach their destination, they are free to park it wherever they want, with no need to return it to a fixed docking point. However, despite trying to reduce congestion in cities, dockless bike-share schemes have sometimes contributed to the problem. The mayor of Greater Manchester, Andy Burnham, said he would keep the scheme under review. “I want to see many more people swapping their cars for bikes. But we’re conscious that our city centre is a complex and busy area already, so Transport for Greater Manchester has been working with Mobike to make sure the service operates in a way that doesn’t inconvenience other road users, pedestrians or city centre traders.” In a radio interview (Radio 4, You & Yours, 19th June) he commented that there is a possibility of “using old industrial infrastructure, such as old railway lines and canal towpaths, to avoid taking road space off the motorist”.
David Fletcher commented: “We came up the Bridgewater into Manchester; bikers rule OK. Bikers are generally behaving badly: no concern for oncomers or walkers; riding through bridge-holes etc. None of this impacts boaters as you cannot moor ‒ the towpath is paved to the edge, about 5 feet wide with no rings ‒ but neither would you want to.”
Across social media and the waterways press there are regular articles and requests from those looking to 'rent' a boat to live on or use as overnight accommodation. In urban areas living on a boat is often not a lifestyle choice about going boating, but a desire for cheap accommodation in a defined area. There are real personal and legal risks in this and these are described by this quote form a boater:
“Renting a boat which doesn't comply (with the rules) is the same as someone driving a car without Tax, MOT, and Insurance. If a non-compliant rented boat explodes, catches fire etc. it is unlikely to be covered by the owners insurance which will have been declared null and void. Any third party damage or injury will also not be covered.”
In the event of disaster there is not likely to be any comeback on the boat owner, who may well have broken the rules. We should be clear that we are not talking about normally accepted hire boat companies.
Avoid Market Drayton in mid-August
500 anglers are expected to line a 15-mile stretch of the Shropshire Union towpath at Market Drayton on Saturday 19th August for the Angling Trust Division One National Championship.
There will be 50 teams, each having ten anglers, and about a dozen practice events during the week before.