“So near and yet so far”

running repairs
It wouldn’t be a Cycling Dumfries ride without someone’s bike breaking! Elaine Murray gets her brakes repaired by John Henry before the start. Photo Alison Boyes

This rapidly became the refrain during our candidates’ cycle ride as we took six intrepid aspiring MSPs on a brief tour of three of the high schools in the town – undaunted by a biting north wind and even a wintry shower at the start – and the inevitable mechanical malfunctions.

candidates at the start
Candidates posing at the start – left to right Elaine Murray, John Duncan, Finlay Carson, and Joan McAlpine. Photo Alison Boyes

Sarah Beattie-Smith (Green), Richard Brodie (Liberal Democrats) Finlay Carson (Conservatives), John Dennis (RISE) Joan McAlpine (SNP), and Elaine Murray (Labour) joined around a dozen local cyclists for a brief tour of the missing school links that make it harder for families (and teachers) to avoid the car during the school run.

candidates cycling
Joan McAlpine (SNP yellow) and Sarah Beattie-Smith (hi-vis yellow). Photo Alison Boyes

We looked at the difficulties crossing the road to reach St Joseph’s from Dock Park (and the potential for a segregated cycle route along Brooms Road), the barriers for cycling at the Academy, including cars parking end-on, with the potential for conflict, and the new shared-use path at the High School which is fine – as long as we don’t actually get massive numbers of kids cycling to school.

Richard Brodie
Richard Brodie (left) and participants on the ride. Photo Alison Boyes

We were short of time, with three of our candidates needing to get back to attend the BBC hustings, but the three remaining even did a little adventurous off-roading to find the route back from the High School to the Caledonian Cycle path.

As always with these events, it was a much more relaxed way to get to know your political candidates than a formal hustings – and I think some good conversations were had by all concerned. Thank you to everyone who came – particularly the candidates themselves. We wish them all the best in their coming campaigns and hope that at least one of them takes the message back to Holyrood that we need policies that will support everyone – but particularly our school children – to cycle round the town



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