FIRST of all I would like to congratulate the Canal and River Trust for the remarkable job of repairing the towpath between Kildwick and Skipton and to celebrate their success in attracting people to use and enjoy it.

In many years of cycling to Skipton and back from my home in Cross Hills, I can honestly say I have never seen so many people there.

But success is often a double-edged sword and recently I have noticed hostility towards cyclists from walkers.

A few weeks ago, while out with my wife and teenage daughter, we were twice told we had no right to use the towpath; the second occasion by a large gentleman who verbally intimidated them and proceeded to physically and verbally threaten me when I remonstrated with him.

Now I can stand up for myself, even against someone who appeared to stand six foot plus and around eighteen stone (at five eight and 11 stone wet through I was giving away quite a bit), but to intimidate two women is reprehensible and utterly without excuse.

This kind of incident has happened again more recently: despite ringing our bells (all four of us have them on our handlebars) and shouting "Excuse me!", a runner perhaps in his late 50s was incredibly abusive to us; shouting so vituperatively and going crimson in his fury I feared he was going to bring on a seizure. Another instance the same day in Skipton when we and four other cyclists - two dads and their early teenage sons travelling in the opposite direction - were told we had no right to be on the towpath by a woman walking her dog.

This was after we had all stopped and pulled over to allow her the right of way.

I realise pedestrians are the most vulnerable and must have priority at all times over other users and I genuinely believe most cyclists - especially those with young families - adhere to that. Sadly some cyclists do not show pedestrians the same courtesy and not all of us use bells or our voices to alert other towpath users and equally sadly this behaviour tarnishes us all.

I also realise some pedestrians are elderly and may have hearing issues; there are also those who use headphones for certain developmental disabilities or just to listen to music.

However, as a designated cycle path pedestrians need to be just as alert to cyclists as we are to them and show us the same courtesy.

In conclusion, all users - not just those on two wheels - would do well to remember that the wonderful resource we are so incredibly fortunate to have is for everyone to enjoy in peace.

Chris Ward

Cross Hills