As the nights draw in, you might find yourself cycling along the canal during your usual commute, but now in the dark.
This happened to be on Friday night, I was caught out by the shorter days, and earlier sunset. I was zipping along the Bridgewater Way after leaving a little late from work, along my usual route from Salford to Sale. I use the scooter for exercise, and love to unwind and re-energise after a long week in the office, and my awesome Maxxis tyres can handle the gravel surface.
There were only a couple of other commuters using the route as it got dark. At around 6.30pm I came to a bridge crossing and I could see three figures on top of the overhead bridge and as I scooted nearer, they started to throw rocks at me! I was lucky that nothing hit me. And I managed to get home unscathed and reported the incident to the police.
Returning back to the scene on Saturday morning, I saw that the ‘rocks’ were large granite cobblestones, removed from the bridge overhead. Police have had no other reports of the incident, so I really hope this was a one-off ‘prank’.
The Bridgewater Canal
The route is a north-south cycle route that has, in fact, had welcome improvements done to the tow-path in recent years. The widening and resurfacing now joins up Altrincham, Sale, Stretford and Manchester city centre for walkers, cyclists and runners, and the odd scoot-commuter like me. See the route here.
The Bridgewater Canal holds historical significance as it is Britain’s first canal (to be built without following an existing watercourse). Built by Francis Egerton the Third Duke of Bridgewater in 1761, it was built to transport coal using horse-drawn barges from the mines into the industrial areas of Manchester.
Revolutionising transport at the time, The Bridgewater Canal marked the beginning of the Golden Canal Era (1760-1830), it remains an important historical route.
But today in 2017, the coal mines are closed, and cities are facing new challenges – challenges of congestion and air pollution. Could the waterways of Manchester be re-appropriated? The cycle path is a fantastic route, but as I learnt, it’s not a good option after dark, it’s not lit with streetlights, and is still marred by crime.
Only last week a petition to put CCTV and lights along the route was circulated and this morning I found out why this will fall on deaf ears.
The canal is owned by Peel Holdings- it’s private land.
So that’s it, folks, watch out after dark, you may want to find an alternative route.
Find out sunset times here
For me, I’ll be switching to our foldable scooter and I will take the Metro.