Author Archives: sallyhinchcliffe

Next meeting – and a reminder

Our next meeting will be on Wednesday May 3rd, at 6pm in the Coach and Horses. Please do come along because there’s lots going on!

But first, there are three things you should be doing if you want to see better conditions for cycling in Dumfries

Get along to Pedal on Parliament

Dumfries and Galloway cyclists at Holyrood

Dumfries and Galloway cyclists at POP

This weekend sees the sixth annual Pedal on Parliament and this year it’s in Glasgow as well as Edinburgh, giving you two chances to get along. POP Edinburgh starts at 12 noon on Saturday 22nd April at the Meadows in Edinburgh and there’s usually a good contingent of Dumfries cyclists there. POP Glasgow starts at Glasgow Green on Sunday 23rd at 1pm, and it’s the first time it’s taken place in Glasgow.

Unfortunately, the lack of Sunday morning trains makes getting to Glasgow complicated but the X74 bus takes bikes and the 8:45 service would get you there in plenty of time. Alternatively, you can drive up and either join a feeder ride (there are ones from Paisley and Pollok Park) or just go straight into Glasgow. If you can’t fit your bikes in the car, no problem – nextbike are offering free bike hires to anyone taking part in POP.

Join our candidates’ ride

We’ve got council candidates from pretty much all the parties signed up to join us on our candidates’ ride on Wednesday 26th April – and a few independents – so now’s your chance to hear from and talk to the people who will be making the decisions about our streets and cycle paths for the next five years. With the single transferable vote system, you can rank the candidates all the way down to last place, so even if you decide your vote based on other matters, what they say or do about cycling could well be the tie breaker for some candidates. Join us at Dock Park at 4pm – we should be finished by around 5:30

Politicians on the ride

your chance to make local politicians understand the issues you and your family face on bikes

Tell your candidates you #WalkCycleVote

Whether or not you can make it to the ride, you can find out where your candidates stand on active travel via the We Walk, We Cycle, We Vote candidate finder – and also how to contact them yourselves if they haven’t yet responded. The campaign is asking for candidates to sign up to three simple pledges:

  • Investment: Provide sustained, long term investment in both cycling and walking, reaching 10% of the transport budget
  • Infrastructure: Build and maintain dedicated cycling infrastructure suitable for people of all ages and abilities
  • Local action: To solve the main local barriers to active travel, as identified by residents and businesses

So far, 19% of candidates in Dumfries and Galloway have responded to the campaign, either partially or fully supporting these asks. Hearing from potential voters might encourage the rest to respond, and keep walking and cycling high on the political agenda, so do get in touch with yours.

Health benefits

We’ve written about why we support this campaign – but we’re sure you have your own reasons to add. If you need facts and figures, the campaign has put together a great briefing with some key evidence as to why investing in walking and cycling will save far more money in terms of health and the local economy than it will cost in the first place.

With the general election just announced, local elections might seem like a sideshow. But remember that it’s councils that make the real difference to your everyday journeys, so make sure we’ve got the best possible councillors in place, come May 4th.

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Why we’re Supporting We Walk, We Cycle, We Vote

walk cycle vote

Cycling Dumfries has been a supporter of Walk Cycle Vote since it started before the Holyrood election, but these council elections are even more crucial when it comes to improving conditions for cycling and walking in Dumfries.

The campaign is asking all local authority candidates to sign up to three clear pledges:

  • Investment: Provide sustained, long term investment in both cycling and walking, reaching 10% of the transport budget
  • Infrastructure: Build and maintain dedicated cycling infrastructure suitable for people of all ages and abilities
  • Local action: To solve the main local barriers to active travel, as identified by residents and businesses

These could be transformative for active travel in Dumfries

Investment

Garroch Loaning

Nationally, the efforts of campaigns like Pedal on Parliament and We Walk, We Cycle, We Vote means that the Scottish Government is investing much more money into cycling – but very little of that is reaching Dumfries. The reason is that schemes like Sustrans’ Community Links and Community Links Plus require councils to put in match funding. Councils like Edinburgh have committed to spending 10% of their transport budget on cycling – but Dumfries and Galloway only spend what is in their (ringfenced) Cycling Walking and Safer Streets fund. This limits the amount of money the area gets compared with the rest of Scotland, despite it having one of the higher cycling rates in the country. Ultimately, the failure of the council to put in a proper crossing at the Garroch Loaning came down to money. That’s why our doctors and nurses will be forced to ‘find a gap in the traffic’ if they want to take the healthy way to get to work when the new hospital opens.

Infrastructure

bike lanes on Brooms Road

We need less of this …

Cycling doesn’t just require investment – it needs the right kind of investment. Bike lanes that leave you vulnerable to cars turning right into the Lidl car park will not make anyone feel like Brooms Road is an inviting place to cycle. Unfortunately, we are seeing too many schemes proposed that simply put paint on the road rather than creating space for people to cycle. When we object, or try and propose more ambitious solutions, we hit obstacles at every turn. Having political commitment to provide the right sort of infrastructure that enables everyone to cycle can help us overcome those barriers – and save the council from wasting time putting in cycle lanes nobody will use

crossing the KM bridge

… and more of this Photo (c) Jim Craig, 2016

Overcoming local barriers

Safe routes

All politics is local – and so is all cycling. It doesn’t help knowing that there’s a shiny new route to Mabie Forest if your route to work involves the Lockerbie Road. We hear a lot from people about why they don’t cycle – and it’s mainly because they don’t feel safe on the roads that they would have to use. We hope that our new councillors will be open to hearing from their constituents about where the barriers are for them – and taking action to get those barriers lifted. Whether it’s gritting paths, building bridges, putting in crossings, or literally removing barriers, the experts in this area are the people who face the problems every day.

blocked viaduct over Garroch Loaning

One actual barrier to cycling – the closed viaduct. Will our new councillors have the political will to open these gates?

It’s easy to be cynical about ‘the cooncil’. But every five years, we get a chance to take our complaints to the people who can make a difference and know that we will be heard. Please tell your candidates about We Walk, We Cycle, We Vote and urge them to sign up to these three pledges – you can find out if they have or not here. And come along if you can do our Candidates’ Cycle Ride and tell them yourself, in person.

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Next meeting – and a candidate cycle challenge!

 

candidates at the start

Candidates for Holyrood getting on their bikes last year – will our wannabe councillors prove as game?

Two dates for your diaries in April – our first regular meeting of the year which will be on Thursday 6th April (NB not the usual first Tuesday this month) at the Coach and Horses at 6pm as usual. For those of you not familiar with our ‘meetings’  this is as much a chat over a drink and crisps as anything formal, although we do also plan events and campaigns during the course of them! They normally last about an hour and anyone is welcome – you don’t have to be a member to attend.

Top of the agenda will be our first formal campaigning event of the year – the Council Candidates’ Cycle Ride, on Wednesday 26th April. We hold these informal bike-borne hustings events for every election – they’re a chance to let local politicians understand the issues troubling cyclists in the town first hand, with a led ride showcasing both the problem areas and the things that are working. It’s a political event with a difference – no speeches or grandstanding, just a chance for (we hope) a meeting of minds and some mutual understanding.

The route is yet to be decided, so if you have a really burning issue (that can be reached from Dock Park in less than 20 minutes by a group of not-necessarily-very-experienced cyclists) then please let us know. Otherwise, please do turn out if you can – we’ll meet at Dock Park at 4pm, for a photo opportunity, followed by a ride and discussion, with the whole thing done and dusted by 5:30pm, unless any of our candidates wish to repair to the pub afterwards.

 

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Tackling the Polygon of Perplexity

polygon of perplexity

Polygon ready to go…

We had a great time at the Environment Fair last week, playing bike scalectrix, handing out goodies, and getting unsuspecting members of the public to fill in what we’re calling the Polygon of Perplexity.

No, it’s not a piece of string art – it’s a simple engagement tool that allows people to flag up the things that concern them when it comes to walking and cycling – from driver behaviour and safe routes, to maintenance, lighting and personal safety.

It was interesting to see people’s different responses, and a lot depends on age, perspective (whether mainly a pedestrian or a cyclist) and where you live. At the end of the day we had talked to a good cross-section of the local community – and there was a wide variety of opinions on most of the points.

completed polygon

Completed polygon at the end of the fair

Interestingly, one area stood out pretty strongly as either very or quite important to everyone who came and had a go.

Safe routes

Young, old, male, female – everyone agreed that safe routes were a high priority

Perhaps our two veldodrome cyclists might have agreed – certainly they suffered a bit from at the hands of the more reckless Scalectrix players.

running repairs

It wouldn’t be a proper cycling event without a few mechanical issues…

We also had some interest in our trailer which is available to loan if you need to move a load that won’t fit in a pannier bag (we were using it today to deliver a gazebo to the Crichton).

Car, who needs one? Borrow our trailer for those awkward loads

Thanks to everyone who came by for a chat on Saturday.

Rhian at our stall

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Dates for your diaries – training and networking

Big Bike Revival networking event

Thanks to Cycling UK and the Big Bike Revival, there are three great free opportunities for cycling groups and individuals coming up in April.

On Saturday April 1st there will be a Community Networking Event (click to book) for Dumfries and Galloway, which will be bringing together groups from around the region who are either already involved in cycling or are interested in including it as part of their activities. The day will run from 10:30 to 4:30 at Easterbrook Hall in the Crichton and will include

 

  • – Welcome and introduction from Cycling UK
  • Presentations from Big Bike Revival participants
  • Talks from local experienced bike recycling and training enterprises
  • Introductions to national cycling programmes and activities from Sustrans and Cycling Scotland
  • Lots of opportunities to network and mingle over a free lunch.

We’ll be there and will be introducing Cyclescape, a tool to to identify gaps in the region’s cycling network.

But that’s not all. On Friday 7th April, Cycling UK are offering members of community cycle clubs, affiliate member groups and community cycling projects, a free Roadside Repair Session (click to book – as an affiliate group, Cycling Dumfries members are eligible). This will be invaluable to anyone involved in group rides, to help get participants back on the road again if they have a mechanical issue (anyone who’s been out with us will know how frequently those crop up!) as well as just giving anyone the confidence to go out on the bike without worrying about a long walk home. It will run from 10 am  to 4 pm at Buddies, 20 Castle Street, Dumfries.

Then on Saturday 8th April, Cycling UK are also offering a free first aid course (click to book) to affiliated cycle groups, also at Buddies, from 9am – 4pm.  It’s one of those skills we all hope never to have to put into practice – but could potentially be a lifesaver in the unlikely event of anything going wrong.

If you’re interested in any of these – please book now, to avoid disappointment. We hope to see some of you there!

 

 

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You can’t Keep a Winter Ride Down…

rainbow

Well, after four miraculously clement winter rides in a row, it looked as if all our winters were coming at once for today’s planned ride. The persistent rain was one thing, but when the Met Office issued a yellow warning for gales, right over the period when we were intending to ride, we made the reluctant decision to call the ride off.

We weren’t expecting anyone to show up anyway, but Tom Hanley went down just in case and two hardy souls joined him and they went ahead and rode to New Abbey anyway. As Tom reports:

honestly, it wasn’t bad – Sometimes the wind was at our backs, sometimes we were in complete shelter and you would not even suspect there was a breeze and sometime it was wasn’t even raining; certainly no danger involved

Chapeau to Tom, Laura and Ronnie for braving the elements. And the Puncture Fairy, who also apparently put in an appearance.

If we can, we will reschedule the ride (at least for those who haven’t already done it), but failing that, do please stop by and see us at the Environment Fair on the 18th March

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Buddying Up

Buddies

As we’ve posted before, we’re working with Buddies to get some of their members cycling. You may already have seen some of them out and about in their smart pink vests. Many of them can already ride a bike, but others have never had the chance, so we’re doing a bit of coaching which is quite a steep learning curve for both them and us!

One thing which would help would be a couple of adult balance bikes – basically a normal bike, but with the pedals taken off. Just as with kids, balance bikes allow people to get the hang of balancing, steering and braking, before they put it all together and start pedalling too.

If you have any old bikes hanging around that you could donate to Buddies to turn into balance bikes, that would be really helpful. They don’t need to be fantastic bikes as long as the frame is sound and ideally have working brakes. Non-suspension frames would be better. A couple in a range of sizes would help get all the Buddies balancing and scooting – and ultimately pedalling too.

If you can help, let Buddies know directly or else email cyclingdumfries@gmail.org and we’ll pass the details on.

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