cycle rage by the canal

Anglers on the Calder and Hebble Navigation canal near Elland Bridge.
Anglers on the Calder and Hebble Navigation canal near Elland Bridge.

A 64-year-old angler was sworn at and kicked into the water by a cyclist as he fished along the Calder and Hebble canal.

Derek Bowers is the latest victim of towpath wars between cyclists and anglers and believes somebody will soon be seriously hurt.

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Derek Bowers, a joiner from Rochdale, says he was sworn at, then kicked in the water by a cyclist during a competition on the Calder and Hebble canal between Brighouse and Elland and is reporting the alleged incident to the police.

“I had hooked a fish and pushed my pole back across the path when there was a screech of brakes. I joked to the person on the bike that it had been a close shave and moved the pole. He was immediately abusive. The next thing he’s booted me on the shoulder and I am in the water,” he said.

“Had this had happened to an older person they could have had a heart attack. I am still working and pretty fit for my age.”

Other anglers rushed to pull Mr Bowers and his gear from the 5ft deep canal while the cyclist moved off towards Brighouse.

The alleged incident is similar to one five years ago when an angler was pushed in near Brighouse market.

More recently tensions on the newly Tarmac ked towpath have risen with some bikers accused of using it as a race track.

Brighouse Angling club pays rent to British Waterways for the fishing rights along the canal.

Chairman Dave Finnigan said: “What happened to Derek is unacceptable. There is a growing frustration that some cyclists are being allowed to ride recklessly along the towpath.

“My wife and daughter who is deaf, took part in a charity walk along the canal from Sowerby Bridge to Hebden Bridge on Saturday. They were really worried at the speed some of the bikes and that many didn’t have bells fitted. As usual it is a minority who are causing problems. It will be terrible if it takes a serious injury to get bikers to slow down.”

Added Mr Bowers: “Bikes are a good thing. They get people out and keep them healthy. The majority will put a foot on the path when they see an angler landing a fish.”

A spokesman for BWB said: