This post is one of our Missing Links series, where we’ll be detailing how the existing cycling network could be made more joined up. The aim is to make it easy for people to cycle safely anywhere they need to go, making the bike a true practical alternative to the car for shorter journeys in Dumfries.
DG One is Dumfries’s flagship leisure centre and an important venue for the town. It is relatively new and very well used – the car park is almost always pretty full. It has decent bike racks and a Go Bike docking station, and the first year of Go Bike rentals shows that it was actually one of the busiest stations for the orange bikes, suggesting that there is a desire to cycle to and from DG One, not just on stationary bikes once inside.
These orange bike renters must be pretty determined though – because it’s not the easiest place to get to by bike. The only entrance to DG One that’s accessible by bike is the same one the cars use to get into the car park. This comes off Hoods Loaning, which runs between English Street and Leafield Road. If you imagine our Orange Bike rider, wishing to cycle (legally) from the station or the Whitesands rental points – how are they supposed to get there?
By car, the one-way system means that traffic is funneled onto roads like Brooms Road, Loreburne Street and English Street – roads which are pretty hostile to all but the most experienced and assertive cyclist. Unfortunately, because there are very few exceptions for bikes, those are also the only legal roads for a cyclist to use too.
Making these roads safe and attractive for cyclists will be a difficult and long-term project – but fortunately there’s a quicker and cheaper alternative. If the planners of DG One had properly considered bikes, for instance, the foot entrance at the bottom of the car park could have been made accessible to them, allowing cyclists to approach via the much quieter Brook Street – but at the moment, it’s not even all that accessible for push chairs and wheelchairs, let alone bikes. Replacing the railings with a single bollard, dropping a few curbs, and allowing cyclists to go two way through the car park would quickly produce an attractive alternative to the main entrance.
And for cyclists coming from the other direction, there is an alternative to English Street that would be just as easy to put in. Newall Terrace is a good direct bike route into town, especially now its contraflow bike lane has been created. A similar bit of ‘filtered permeability’ – ie. allowing bikes to go places where cars cannot – would let cyclists cut through the existing council car park to emerge onto English Street directly opposite the turn off to Hoods Loaning. Add in a toucan crossing and some route signs, and a very neat short cut for bikes could be produced, which would also benefit people on foot. Given that this is the council’s own land – and it’s own flagship facility – we can’t see why this can’t be done immediately.