Politicians on Wheels

Thank you to everyone who turned out on Friday afternoon to ride with our local parliamentary candidates and discuss all things cycling (and a few things non-cycling too!)


Politicians on the ride
Rosie explains a point to Finlay Carson (orange top), Richard Arkless (orange bike, fourth from right) and Russell Brown (first on right)

We’re pleased to have had representatives from the Conservatives, Labour and the SNP: MP Russell Brown (Labour) and prospective candidates Richard Arkless (SNP) and Finlay Carson (Conservative), as well as a good cross section of Dumfries’s cycling community, including a few who were definitely too young to vote. We were a little disappointed that, apart from Finlay, none of the other councillors we were expecting were able to make it (flu and overrunning meetings, apparently). Hopefully some of the issues we explored will be fed back to their colleagues by the ones who could come along.

As requested by those of you who couldn’t make it, we made sure the route included plenty of potholes (it wasn’t hard), the access to the new hospital, and the ‘vanishes halfway along’ cycle path along Park Road, so they saw a good cross section of the problems that cyclists encounter every day. We also had to negotiate the Whitesands with the fair in full swing (we would have crossed over and used the other bank but the KM bridge is closed for resurfacing this week as well), and wait for ages for the crossing at Dock Park.

They also saw the best of Dumfries cycling, with all of them enjoying the stress-free (and now litter-free) run along the Maxwelltown path. Young Sandy Smart led the way on his tiny Frog bike: it’s a sign of really top class infrastructure when a five-year-old can pedal freely to his heart’s content, without any fear for his safety. He set a cracking pace, too.

Sadly, we had to leave the two families to make their own way back on the Maxwelltown path, as the return route was not suitable for children pedalling independently. We’re told there are plans to complete the Park Road path in some way, but at the moment it stops right on a bend, forcing bikes to cross a busy road with poor sightlines. Crossing the New Abbey Road is not for the faint hearted either.

All three of our guests understood the problem with the access to the new hospital, and it was good to have two NHS staff there, one who currently cycles to work and one who doesn’t but would like to. They all agreed that actually experiencing it on a bike made it much easier to understand the issues and the possibilities. And for the election? Well, from the cycling point of view, all three of them seem like they would be good representatives for cyclists at Westminster. So you’ll just have to make your mind up on other issues!

Thank you Finlay, Richard and Russell for your time – and you’d be very welcome to join us any time you want to get out on your bikes again.

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