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London Adds Special Lanes for Ducks

A city charity has painted pathways for waddlers on Regents Canal walkways

New lanes on London's Regents Canal urge human bikers, runners and walkers to break for ducklings. (Martin Deutsch/Flickr)
smithsonian.com

Given the notoriously difficult time chickens have crossing a road, it should come as no surprise that making the way across the paths that line London's Regents Canal can be exceedingly dangerous for a duck. Bikers, runners and strolling pedestrians all provide moving hazards for ducks to navigate on the busy thoroughfare.

Now, one local charity has a solution: duck lanes. The Canal & River Trust recently outlined lanes for waddlers along the canal towpaths, as Cassie Warber reports for Quartz. White lines and the silhouette of a duck now delineate special areas in four areas in the neighborhoods of East London, Kings Cross and Little Venice.

Will ducks actually stay in their lanes? That's highly unlikely. At the moment, they meander through the chaos with what borders on a complete lack of an awareness. After all, many wild animals do as they please, even when ecopassages have been constructed to ensure their safe travel.

So, the lanes are mostly for show, but the charity hopes they will raise some awareness among humans who frequent the canal towpaths. Richard Parry, chief executive of the Canal & River Trust, explained in a statement:

“Today [the towpaths] are more popular than ever, with more investment in improvements and better signage, but with that success there are also problems, which is why we are calling on visitors to help make our canals preserves for old fashioned good manners!  We can all help by slowing down and remembering we are all there to enjoy the space.”

The group estimates that in 2014 more than 400 million visitors tread the canal pathways. It's impossible to draw lanes for everyone, so they elected to at least draw one for ducks as a reminder for all to the share the road, as the group's campaigns manager Claire Risino elaborated in an email to Warber.

Look at it this way, towpath travelers, breaking for a duck is just one more reason to slow down and enjoy the scenery.

About Helen Thompson
Helen Thompson

Helen Thompson writes about science and culture for Smithsonian. She's previously written for NPR, National Geographic News, Nature and others.

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