Welcome to Cycling Dumfries, the campaign to improve cycling conditions in Dumfries and the surrounding area.
The pedal bicycle, or so legend has it, was invented in Dumfries and Galloway by Kirkpatrick Macmillan. And it’s no wonder that he did for the county has some of the best cycling in the country – from the mountain biking trails of the 7Stanes to the miles and miles of quiet rural roads beloved of cycle tourers and racers.
And yet when you look at Dumfries and its surroundings, relatively few people are using bikes simply to get about, depending instead on their cars.
We’re hoping to change that and bring the bike back right into the heart of the community where it was born. Cycling Dumfries is a new kind of cycling campaign – not just for the people who already cycle, and not just for the racers or the mountain bikers or tourers. It’s for everybody who might like to use a bike, or use their bike more, to get to work, school, the shops, the pub, or just out and about.
There couldn’t be a better time to take up cycling, or start cycling more – getting around by bike not only saves you money (a decent bike can now be bought for the price of three or four tanks of petrol), but keeps you fit and can even save you time, especially if the alternative is the bus. Studies show that cyclists live longer than non-cyclists – by as much as ten years.
And it’s not just the cyclists who benefit – having more people using their bikes instead of their cars will reduce traffic, cut pollution and free up parking spaces – as well as just making our town a nicer place to be. Children and teenagers cycling independently not only keep themselves fit but free up their parents from the pressures of the school run and ferrying their kids about.
Yet lots of people don’t cycle, even if they want to, or only use their bikes for leisure instead of as a practical way of getting about. There are many reasons why this should be: fear of traffic, the weather, lack of secure parking, lack of access to bikes. We want to find out what those problems are and how they can be addressed – although we aren’t promising to do anything about the weather. What we will do is try and work with the council and the Scottish Government to improve things for bikes – and everyone – in the town and around.