Springalong and more

Nith Inshore Rescue Open Day

Nith Inshore Rescue Open Day

As we gear up for our summer rides in July and August, we’ll be taking part in a few other local over the next few weeks. First up, we’ll be taking part in the Nith Inshore Rescue Open Day as they formally open their new boat house. Come along this Saturday and say hello, have a go on a tandem, see if you can master the Brompton fold, and also have a nosey round the Lifeboat’s fancy new boat house – what’s not to like? We’ll be there all afternoon, from 2pm to 6pm.

We were disappointed that the planned Springalong event in May was cancelled due to the weather (especially as we’d already braved the rain and started setting up!) but fortunately it turns out it was merely postponed and will now be held on Sunday 4th June, 12-3 pm.

Amended Springalong poster

We’ll be there and are planning to run some slow bicycle ‘races’ (is it a race if you’re trying to come last?). So if you’re planning on attending, do make sure you come by bike or at least bring your bike along so that you can take part. There will even be a few small prizes for the slowest.

Whether you can make it or not, don’t forget that our summer rides are held every Saturday in July and August and are a great way to discover the cycle paths of Dumfries as well as meet other local cyclists and generally enjoy a nice relaxed cycle trip well away from traffic. Perfect for those who are new to cycling, getting back on the bike after a break, or just generally not keen on mixing with cars on the roads.


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Active Travel and Schools – a consultation

Dumfries Learning town Consultatiion

Find out more about the plans and have your say at this consultation event on the 23rd May

Cycling Dumfries have long considered that having safe, direct and attractive cycling routes to schools will be key to making Dumfries a better place to get around for everyone. So we’re very pleased to see that as part of the Dumfries Learning Town initiative there is a wider consultation about active travel.

There is an exhibition and consultation event on Tuesday 23rd May which we’d urge everyone to go along to – not just parents, teachers and pupils. And there is also a survey on active travel asking about which routes people take now to walk and cycle, what the barriers are, and what would encourage them to cycle more. Please do fill it in, again whether you’re connected to the local schools or not. If we don’t tell the council what we want, we can’t complain when they don’t give it to us!

We have also been talking (briefly) to the Dumfries Learning Town team and will be passing on our own ideas – but the more people they hear from the better so do go and have your say.

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Council Candidates ride!

Thanks to all the council candidates who joined us yesterday afternoon for our candidates’ ride.

Candidates line up

Candidates: left to right John Dennis, John Martin, Maureen Johnstone, Ronnie Nicholson, Keith Walters, Stacy Bradley and Belle Doyle. 

Sandy Rogerson

Sandy Rogerson (right) who had missed the photo call, chatting to Cycling Dumfries member Rhian Davies

The recent wild winds had thankfully stopped, although it was not a warm day. However we were joined by some of the staff and members of Buddies (who also lent out bikes to the candidates who didn’t have them), and members of Cycling Dumfries.

We looked at the difficulties of getting between St Joe’s and the cycle path on the Whitesands, with a couple of possible solutions, and then cycled down to the site of the new learning hub (now confusingly to be called The Bridge) and beyond to the new school being built in Lochside. We came back along the Maxwelltown path and past the station through town, although by then we were rather a select group, as a number of participants had left early due to other commitments

Hopefully the candidates got some idea of the way sometimes quite small details can make a big difference to whether people choose to walk and cycle or drive.

Attempting to negotiate the entrance to McDonalds. Drivers don’t necessarily give way to people on foot or on bikes. When the new school opens, this will be a busy route for teenagers heading into the learning hub

McDonalds entrance

Are three lanes – and a nice sweeping curve – really necessary to allow cars in and out of the drivethru?

Interestingly, the thing that seemed to make the biggest impression on them was the newly widened entrance to the McDonald’s drive thru which now has three lanes – which seems a bit excessive in a largely residential area on a route that will be busy with schoolchildren once the new school opens. We can talk all we like about encouraging active travel (and healthy eating) but as long as our street layouts give priority to people in cars buying fast food, we can’t expect people to listen.

We wish all the candidates the best of luck in their campaigns and thank them for coming along and allowing their ears to be bent. Several of them have now added their support to We Walk, We Cycle, We Vote – you can find out where your candidates stand here


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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


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.


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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