Chapeau to Dumfries’s intrepid politicians who braved a dire weather forecast to join us on our ‘Council Candidates Cycle Challenge’!
Ian Blake (Conservative), Russell Brown MP (Labour), Roger Grant (Conservative), Elly Hurren (Conservative), Yen Hongmei Jin (SNP), Jeff Leaver (Labour), Gail McGregor (Conservative), Elaine Murray MSP (Labour), Ronnie Nicholson (Labour), Alastair Witts (SNP), and Bill Wright (UKIP), demonstrated that cycling was truly a cross-party affair by showing up – with and without bikes – to join around a dozen regular cyclists and one police officer for a tour of the town on two wheels. The idea to show them some of the problems – and opportunities – facing regular cyclists, as well as to give them an opportunity to tell us what they might be able to do to help if they were elected.
There were a few nervous faces before we set off, as not everyone was an experienced cyclist (and some of those bikes looked as if they’d spent rather too long in the shed…) but people were soon pedalling confidently around town as if they’d been born on two wheels. We looked at the new Bank street crossing, potential routes from Newall Terrace into town, routes to the High School and St. Joseph’s, the area around DGOne, and even tackled the Moffatt Road and the roundabout behind the station. By the time we made it back to Dock Park the nerves had been transformed into broad smiles (or perhaps it was just relief). Even the weather obliged – the rain held off and we were rewarded with a gorgeous spring evening. And Dumfries’s drivers didn’t disappoint either, with one impatient motorbike (once we’d lost our police escort) weaving so sharply through the group of cyclists that we feared he’d lose his pillon passenger.
We’d like to thank the Dumfries and Galloway police for providing a cycling officer for part of the ride – it certainly made a difference and allowed us to get through the junctions much more quickly and safely than we would have on our own.
One impatient motorbike aside, it was an enjoyable and informative evening on both sides. We’ll be giving the candidates a chance to tell us what they hope to do for cyclists over the next few days, so watch this space. Meanwhile, we’ll let the pictures tell the story.