Canal Consciousness

Gender conscious journeys down the cut. To what extent are our canals safe spaces for different people of different ages and backgrounds? The canal leading from Curzon street south west is a deeply linear space with little permeability (or little escape) on one side is the canal on the other a wall, embankment, shrub or archway that hems you in. during the day time there is light, people jogging, cycling, smoking, teenagers loitering and smoking. By night the canal is in darkness, with the occasional glow of an orange street light in the distance where the canal directs and ducks under a road or railway line. The canal takes on a new life and becomes dangerous, a place to be avoided, only traversed if absolutely necessary. Your heart beats faster as you pace along the tow path, your senses honed for any other person, or persons that may obstruct your way.

The question is how do different people of different backgrounds feel in this space? The lack of permeability and the linear nature of the towpath triggers our ‘flight’ instinct, we often want to get off of the canal as soon as possible at dusk or in darkness as we are unable to flee should danger present itself. There are lots of places to hide and be ‘jumped’ upon along the canal and in particular women may think of their safety when navigating the canal. The lack of illumination does not help alleviate this and more lighting would greatly change the spatial experience of the canal at night.

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