Victorians roam the towpaths to teach surly Londoners their manners

Victorian ladies and gentlemen strolled along a London canal yesterday as part of a campaign to make towpath users more polite.

British Waterways teamed up with etiquette experts Debrett’s in a bid to reduce the number of collisions between cyclists and pedestrians on the Regents Canal in east London.

“Sometimes cyclists can forget how fast and threatening they can be if they are passing you at speed,” said British Waterways’ towpath ranger, Joseph Young.

“It’s hoped that by reminding people how to behave on the towpath, collisions and clashes on the canal can be replaced by the tinging of bicycle bells, and the sound of Londoner’s bidding a good morning with a thank you and a smile to their fellow towpath commuters.”

Thousands of cyclists, walkers, joggers, dog walkers and boaters use the canals to travel around London each week.

Debrett’s, the modern authority on all matters of etiquette, taste and achievement, offer advice about how to behave on all modes of transport. They have identified five top tips to help Londoner’s travel the towpaths safely and politely.

1) Cyclists must be aware of pedestrians at all times. Remember that pedestrians have priority – ring two tings on your bell to warn them that you are approaching. Pass people carefully and slowly, and never cycle too quickly.

2) Pedestrians should allow cyclists to pass wherever possible. Don’t forget to listen out for the two tings warning you that a cyclist is approaching.

3) Both cyclists and pedestrians should be considerate to each other, as well as both being extra careful at bends and entrances along the towpath. A smile and polite ‘thank you’ is courteous if someone has let you pass.

4) Respect the environment and the waterway’s natural beauty. Never drop any litter.

5) Dog walkers must always clean up after their dog.