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…


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


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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Valentine’s Ride

Love your bike? Treat it with a ride out to Sweetheart Abbey. We’ll be heading out of Dumfries along the old military road, crossing the Dalbeattie Road at Beeswing. Then it’s an easy few miles down the Loch Arthur New Abbey Road.

In New Abbey as well as admiring Sweetheart Abbey, we’ll head to the tea room or pub for a bite to eat. The abbey was founded by Lady Devorgilla in memory of her husband John Balliol.  After his death she had his heart embalmed and placed in an ivory casket, which she is said to have carried with her forever after, finally being buried with it on her death.

Sweetheart Abbey Nith Scotland Galloway Dumfries

Despite a chequered history and an early demise in the 16th century, this 700 year old ruin has survived various wars to stand almost complete.The blood red sandstone and graceful architecture are nestled below the bulk of Criffel amongst green rolling hills and patches of woodland.

It’s through this countryside we’ll head back, leaving New Abbey to the north along the coast road for a short section before turning off to follow Kirkconnell Lane. This will bring us out near Mabie Forest, where we rejoin the coast road for another small section and then take the Mabie Farm park road returning along the shared use path to Cargenbridge and back in to town.

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Hospital routes – a site visit

On Saturday a couple of us took a ride out to Cargenbridge to have a look at where the proposed new routes to the hospital will be going. The plans are here (click for the full size version)

proposed routes

Proposed hospital routes – click for full size version

As you can see, the plan is for bikes to go down the Dalbeattie Road, and then dogleg along Hermitage Drive, before crossing where Park Road crosses the New Abbey Road now. There does seem to be an indication of an alternative route up Maxwell Street, which doesn’t quite take into account the fact that Maxwell Street goes vertically up the side of a hill – as cyclists, we’re all for a direct route, but deviating around the worst gradients is generally recommended.

There are some good features. Continuing the shared use pavement from Cargenbridge to the junction between Park Road and Dalbeattie Road avoids a nasty crossing at the moment

current crossing

Current crossing of the Dalbeattie Road to get to the shared use pavement on the other side

On the whole, we’re not fans of shared use pavements, but there is little foot traffic on this stretch of the road, so it’s probably acceptable.

Plans to improve the crossing of the New Abbey Road are also an improvement. At the moment this is such a tricky crossing, we have stopped taking family groups on it.

New Abbey Road crossing point

Where Park Road joins the New Abbey Road. Not at all easy to get across

However, we don’t think that on-road cycle lanes along the rest of the Dalbeattie Road will add anything at all to the cycling experience:

Dalbeattie Road

Lower end of the Dalbeattie Road

Either they will be parked on, in which case they will be pointless, or they will need to remove the parking altogether, in which case there would be room to put in a proper separated cycle track. However it’s possible there could be room here for Dumfries’s first parking-protected cycle lane, if they got rid of the centre line.

We still feel that the best bet would be to continue the current Park Road off-road path to the junction with New Abbey Road. There are fewer pedestrians to contend with and less demand for parking, plus it’s more direct for cyclists who intend to go along Rotchell Road and then down to Suspension Brae, or indeed on to Troqueer.

end of the Park road path

Park Road path, which currently just ends, on a bend.

We would also suggest extending the Park Road path in the other direction, all the way down past the roundabout and Garroch Loaning. This would  then enable cyclists to avoid crossing the Garroch Loaning altogether, if the current pavement on the far side of the road was extended all the way up to the viaduct

other end of the path

The other end of the Park road Path. If the road was a bit narrower here to make room for a wider path, speeds would be slower too.

If that’s all too difficult with land ownership, then we’d suggest closing one end of the Dalbeattie Road off altogether, reducing through traffic, so there would be no need for separate lanes.

If you want to put these or any other points to the council, don’t forget tomorrow’s consultation – pop in to Troqueer Primary School from 2 to 7:30 to have your say.

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Routes to the new hospital: An update

hospital-access-consultationAs most folk in Dumfries will be aware, the new hospital will be out at Cargenbridge – and we’ve been pressing for over three years now for improvements to the cycling routes to the site once it has opened.

Unfortunately, we have not been successful in securing much in the way of improvements to the crossing of Garroch Loaning. Work will start next week to provide a cycle path past the roundabout and a new crossing on the other side of the roundabout, with some road narrowings to make it easier to get across, but no provision for a toucan crossing. We are extremely disappointed with this, because nobody we talk to, with the exception of road engineers, seems to think that is enough to encourage people to cycle to the new site. We will continue to press for the viaduct to be opened, as that would remain the gold standard for crossing what will be an extremely busy road once the hospital is up and running.

However, that is not the only route to the hospital, and the council have just started consulting on the alternative route, along the Dalbeattie Road and across the New Abbey Road. This is another very tricky crossing (we have stopped running our summer rides along that route because it is too difficult to manage with a group or with children) so any improvements will be appreciated. At first glance, the plans do not look all that promising but you can see for yourself here, here and here.

Please do go along to the consultation if you can. There has been some unease among residents about the reassignments of priorities between Park Road and Dalbeattie Road, so nothing is set in stone. The more cyclists’ voices can be heard on this matter, the better.


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