Mike Gray, John Schofield and myself set off last Friday on a short tour of the town to work out a route for the Council Candidates Cycle Challenge. The final route will be something like this:
I’ll let John take up the rest of the tale:
Last Friday saw three cyclists taking a tour of Dumfries. The plan was to follow a route that would show off the best and the worst of cycling in town to our councillors. We also wanted to look at cycling provision for school pupils. In just one hour, the route we chose ended up having some very high and low points!
Starting from Dock Park, we went along the Sands on the National Cycle Route. This is pleasant and traffic free but very narrow at points with some possible pedestrian conflicts. Passing by the old swimming pool, the route went onto George St heading for the main road at Academy Street; quite busy but traffic calmed. There was nothing to deter any cycling so far. However, things changed once we met Academy Street and turned left. Academy Street is one of the main roads in the town and as soon as we went onto the advance stop signs at the first set of lights, motorists started to become annoyed. Heading towards Lovers Walk the road is quite narrow. When there are two or three cyclists the traffic is obliged to slow down, which caused one driver to drive very close to us as he overtook. At the next set of lights, we thought it better not to use the advance stop lines to avoid any further aggravation with this driver. From Lovers Walk we turned up onto Newall Terrace, which should be the main cycle route from the train station into town, to go and survey the junction with Loreburn Street. This junction is fairly cyclist unfriendly. Cyclists either have to dismount or ignore a ‘No Entry’ sign to reach the junction. To further continue into town, the cyclist must either walk or cycle along the pavement and then go the wrong way down a one way street, or take a detour along Munches street. A small amount of investment is needed here.
Back along the Caledonian cycle way from the station, we met a couple of very pleasant cyclists. One lady, who was used to cycling on the continent, hoped that things would improve greatly for cycling here. Mike kindly assisted the other lady to pump up her tyres. We continued the cycle route but then took a detour across the Auction Mart car park, despite having to mount and dismount at the gates. There is the potential here to have a traffic free link to the High School. Unfortunately, a person, claiming to be from the Auction mart, took a very dim view of us cycling across the car park. (editor’s note: we very much doubted he was… or else the Auction mart might like to review their drugs and/or alcohol policies)
Onto Moffat Road towards DG1, a flag ship facility that is absolutely not cycle friendly. Dismount again to get onto Queen Street, up to St Joseph’s College, again a secondary school that would benefit from some ‘Rights of Way’ signing and a traffic calming link through the Health Board to Dock Park.
This route showed us the real assets that Dumfries has for cycling, but because these assets are not linked up, the intervening main roads are a significant deterrent to cyclists. For a very small amount of money, the High School, St Joseph’s College and Newall Terrace could easily become high quality links.