Jo Young, Towpath Ranger
But I think what I found most fascinating about the whole thing is that there exists a ... "towpath ranger". And I met him. For some reason, I've always rather liked the idea of having the word "ranger" in my job description. Obviously you think of Lone Ranger, but there are all those other rangers out there in the USA fighting crime and generally making the world better.
Anyway, Jo Young, by all accounts a seriously nice guy, spends his days roaming the towpath along the Regent's Canal on foot and on his bike, giving friendly advice to cyclists and pedestrians about how to behave on the Canal. And probably lots more besides.
I interviewed him using my helmet cam. Rather embarassingly, the interview is mainly with his reflective vest rather than his face, so I thought it best to save the embarassment and just stick a still up instead.
A couple of things I found especially interesting:
I asked him how bad the aggro is between pedestrians and cyclists - how many incidents? He said that in terms of reported collisions there were about ten in the last year. But clearly there's a lot more "low level" stuff where words are exchanged but no damage is done. Does ten seem a lot? I don't know.
He was also keen to stress that one bad experience with one cyclist tends to make the pedestrian tar all cyclists with the same brush - and vice versa. So a friendly wave, a thank you, a smile, especially when someone goes out of their way to wait for you, or help, makes all the difference.
I asked him whether it's just coincidence that several parts of the canal are currently closed or part of a concerted improvement plan. He said it was just coincidence.
He also said that if people reading this blog wanted to funnel questions or observations about the canal to him, he'd be happy to have me chat through issues with him. I promise that I'll bring some more sensible recording gear (e.g. iPhone) and get him properly in vision. Do use the comment form below if there are issues about the canal you want raised.
Anyway - all the info about the "two tings" campaign, and the things British Waterways has got organised for next week, National Bike Week, can be found at the Two Tings site.