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.
Whenever we ask local cyclists where the gaps are in the local network, one thing comes up more frequently than anything else: Collin. As the map shows, Collin is just under 4 miles from the centre of Dumfries – an easy distance for almost anyone to cover by bike. However, that would mean cycling along the A75, which is a fast and dangerous road and not welcoming to any but the most confident and fearless cyclist. The alternative route – which itself involves a section of the A709 Lockerbie Road and a roundabout, so is hardly welcoming to the novice cyclist – is almost 6 miles long, or 50% longer than the most direct route.
A road like the A75 – which becomes dual carriageway just before Collin, meaning the speed limit there is 70mph – should have fully separated continuous cycle tracks on both sides of the road, possibly shared with pedestrians as it’s mainly a rural area. This would join Collin and the surrounding settlements with the town, making it easy for people to choose cycling and cut congestion along the A75 and Annan Roads. Ideally, this would be combined with a segregated track along the Annan Road, making a safe, direct and continuous corridor right into town, as the Dutch experience has shown that until routes like these are available, people simply won’t choose to cycle in any numbers. Fortunately, there’s plenty of room for such a track.
The A75 is due to be improved further east after a number of high-profile accidents. Normally, these trunk road works include a token bit of cycle path – but only along the stretch of the road being improved. For instance, there’s a stretch of cycle track along the A75 somewhere between the Shawhead turnoff and Crocketford (but not actually joining either of them) – which basically connects one farm to another. Rather than create another such waste of money – perhaps the opportunity could be taken to actually build a route from Collin instead (or as well). And of course, once built, the track would have to be maintained and kept clear of glass, ice and snow. But that’s a battle for another day…