A Letter to our Council Leaders…

We’ve written to representatives of all the political parties in the council about winter path maintenance. We’ll keep you posted of any response! Meanwhile, you may want to contact your own councillors and raise your concerns.

We are writing to express our concern over the state of the cycling network in Dumfries now that winter is upon us. We note from the council website that the ‘Winter Service keeps the Council’s road, cycle and pedestrian network clear for users during adverse winter conditions’, yet on the ground we’re finding that the main strategic cycle routes are becoming almost unusable due to the buildup of leaves, and ice during freezing periods. We have been in communication by email with the officers on this matter and have been told that the Caledonian Cycleway is a strategic route and high priority because it forms a walking and cycling route to a number of schools. However we’ve also been told that the path is only gritted as part of snow clearance, and the Nithsdale Depot have told us that they are not responsible for clearing the leaves. Meanwhile, other strategic off-road routes, such as the Maxwelltown Cycleway and the Maidenbower path, are not on the gritting schedule at all.

As a result, there have already been a number of falls and accidents on these paths, some resulting in quite serious injuries. Just as importantly, a number of people have been forced to cycle instead on busy roads, or revert to driving, increasing congestion in the town. As a ‘Smarter Choices’ town, we feel that Dumfries can do better than this. After all, millions of pounds have been invested in building the off-road cycle network, and Dumfries is rightly proud of the facilities it has created. Yet it seems we aren’t able to spend the small amount of money needed to keep these facilities usable all year round, reinforcing the impression that cycling and walking are not taken seriously as a means of transport in the town.

We are writing to request that the council prioritises walking and cycling within the town when drawing up its winter maintenance policy. Specifically we would like to see:

* The cycling and walking network to be prioritised for prompt snow clearance and gritting as soon as ice is forecast
* All cycle routes to be regularly swept to remove broken glass (we would suggest at a minimum weekly after Saturday night)
* A regular programme of leaf removal in the autumn to ensure we go into the winter with clear safe paths

In addition, it would be helpful to have a single point of contact to report dangerous paths or areas needing maintenance, prominently displayed along the paths as well as on the council website.

We hope that you will be able to clear up the confusion over the existing policy and make sure that our cycling and walking network is safe to use all year round


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