A few days ago, prompted by a hospital appointment letter, we tweeted the following:
In the discussion that followed, we got this reply, which got us thinking:
It’s easy to forget that, if you don’t already cycle a lot for transport, you’re unlikely to know all the routes and paths that (sometimes) make it possible to cycle to places without having to deal with big roundabouts – indeed, even those of us who cycle a lot are still finding new routes, partly due to the council’s inexplicable unwillingness to signpost the paths it has.
So, partly inspired by Dutch blogger Mark Wagenbuur, who’s just shown how he gets to his new out-of-town hospital by bike on his blog Bicycle Dutch (a must read if you want to be inspired and/or depressed by the progress being made to provide for cycling in the Netherlands), and especially for those who’ve only ever approached the new hospital from the bypass – here’s a pictoral guide to cycling to the hospital from Lochside (we chose Lochside because it was convenient, but it’s easy enough to get onto the Maxwelltown path from the centre of town too).
Dumfries’s cycle network is nothing like as comprehensive as its equivalent in Den Bosch, but as it happens, you can get to the hospital quite easily and mostly on cycle paths (and it’s dead flat too). Here’s the route we used.
Lochside Road is probably the worst part of this particular route – it’s a 20mph road but unfortunately the council have used speed cushions to enforce the limit, which can encourage drivers to pass cyclists too closely – and can leave cyclists riding in the ‘door zone’ beside parked cars.
From there, the new school campus means there’s a nice wide shared path along Alloway Road. It won’t be much use when the school run or lunchbreak is in full flow, but for the rest of the day it’s fine. Ideally we’d suggest moving this bus stop so that bikes go behind any waiting passengers, instead of being forced to get between them and their bus.
As we noted this summer, the cycle path along Hardthorn Road is much improved so you can now ride straight to the Maxwelltown path entrance without having to cross the road. You do still have to negotiate a somewhat pointless chicane, unfortunately
And once on the path, no sign that you can get to the new hospital this way
Gripes aside, once on the Maxwelltown path it’s plain sailing all the way out to Cargenbridge – a very pleasant route, well surfaced, direct, and well lit. It might feel a little lonely after dark, but there are usually enough other cyclists and dog walkers about to make it feel safe.
We’re still disappointed that the council didn’t agree with our request for a light-controlled crossing of the Garroch Loaning, but at least they did create a new crossing point away from the viaduct, which has much better sight lines than the one on the other side of the roundabout. So far, this has proved easier to use than we feared – and now we have picked up signs to the hospital too!
From there, it’s cycle path (or shared use path) all the way to the entrance, with just one road crossing once in the hospital grounds. The zebra crossing is a little bit confusing, as they’re usually only for pedestrians. There’s no sign indicating cyclists should dismount though.
The whole route was less than three miles and would have taken 15 minutes without stopping to take so many photos. We know from our summer rides that it’s suitable for all riders – we’ve taken kids as young as five along this route with no problems.
Obviously, some people going to the hospital won’t be able to cycle, but there are plenty of outpatients or visitors who could easily do this journey by bike – and potentially save themselves a long walk from the outer reaches of the car park too.
So next time you’ve got an occasion to visit the hospital, why not try cycling in if you can? If only so those who really need to drive can do so – without having to park on the cycle path when they arrive.