Street Audit …

We had quite a different sort of outing this morning, taking part in the Dumfries town centre community street audit, organised by Living Streets.

rain on the river

Apologies for the lack of any photos – it was just too wet! But this gives a good flavour of the weather (we seem to have a large stock of wet-weather photos on this site, for some reason!)

The aim of the audit was to look at the environment for walking (and cycling, but the emphasis was on the pedestrian experience) in Dumfries town centre, and particularly from the High Street to Dock Park. As well as a couple of Cycling Dumfries members, there were a good dozen participants, including the head teacher and four primary school children from St. Michael’s.

buddies bikes
The wheelchair bike (and friends) on a slightly dryer day!

We had brought along Buddies’ wheelchair transporter bike, because we thought it was a good illustration of the problems that come when you’re trying to get about on a non-standard bike, whether that be a cargo bike, trike or even a mobility scooter. It certainly showed up the difficulty of navigating the crossings at Dock Park, and even more so on the narrow pavements around St Michael’s school and St Michael’s street (note – we wheeled the bike on the pavements, there was no illegal pavement cycling!).

We were already very familiar with the problems of the crossing into Dock Park (which is slated for an upgrade in the next year or so) but it was eye-opening to see (or be reminded) just how poor St Michael street is for pedestrians, cyclists and drivers alike. As well as very narrow, caged in pavements, heavy traffic, long wait times at crossings, and wide busy streets, what was really striking was the poor air quality at the Loreburne Centre end of the street – even in the pouring rain, you could smell the traffic fumes.

The roundabout on St Michael’s from Google street view- note how this pedestrian has decided the road is a better option than those narrow boxed in pavements

We’re a cycle campaign, but we also recognise that pedestrians should have priority when it comes to our town streets. Today was a good reminder that in many ways, pedestrians can suffer even worse conditions than cyclists, especially where the car has been given priority as in Brooms Road and St Michael’s.

All in all, it was a very interesting morning – even in the rain and the cold. We hope that the audit report produces some bold suggestions as to how to make things better for pedestrians and cyclists – which in the end will benefit everyone, even drivers …


To Ae and Back …

We had a good turnout of eight-and-a-half for today’s ride up to Ae (the half being Paul, who rode down from Moffat to join us in the cafe) – despite a raw Novemberish sort of day.

The ride out – via the Caledonian Cycleway and then north along Quarry Road and direct up to Ae – was very quiet, with almost no traffic at all to contend with. We even had a boost as we headed up Quarry Road, with one child (wielding an imaginary cow bell) cheering us on as we passed.

The road to Ae is a fairly steady, but not particularly steep, climb – we probably could have done without the added headwind – but it’s not too difficult a ride, and we paused a few times to regroup briefly to make sure nobody got lost.

We’d worried the cafe might be busy as there was a race event on at Ae, but we got in at around 12:15, before there was too much of a crowd. Soup, hot rolls and coffee all round soon revived anyone who’d got a bit chilled and the chat flowed.

Rushing to get to the cafe!

After a hasty group shot (having forgotten at the start), the ride back quickly developed some splinter groups with people peeling off to take a shorter (or in one case, longer) route home.

group photo

Another very pleasant day out – and our last for 2018. Never fear, though – we’ll be starting 2019 as we mean to go on with our New Year’s Day ride. Do join us if you can!

Seasonal Cycle rides

With the shorter days it’s even more satisfying to make the most of the daylight hours. So come along and explore the region, and its cafes, by bike.

All rides are free and lycra is not a necessity. The routes range from 20 to 25 miles and include a café stop at about the half way point, so think of it as two rides of 10 or 12 miles. We will cycle at the speed of chat and never leave anyone behind.

Meet on the Whitesands at Devorgilla Bridge for 11am. Rides will be cancelled in the event of really diabolical weather – check the facebook page or twitter for updates on  the day. All the route information for individual rides can be found here.

seasonal cycles 2018If you can, please print a copy of the seasonal cycles 2018 poster and stick it up on your local noticeboard or at work.

A little leaf clearing …

The forecast for this morning was pretty dire – but that didn’t stop Cycling Dumfries members and supporters from turning out at the station at 10am today to help clear the buildup of leaves that was threatening to overwhelm the station path.

getting started
Getting going. Apologies for the quality of the photograph, but it was a dark November morning and the camera struggled with the lack of light

In fact, we were so keen to get going so the work actually started early!

more clearing

With 8 helpers and a nice assortment of rakes, shovels, brushes and brooms, we were able to make a nice job of it and it was clear that, under the encroaching vegetation, the path was actually quite a bit wider than you might think.

making a difference
It’s very satisfying to make a visible difference after a couple of hours hard work

Quite a few passers-by and dog walkers complimented us on the job we were doing, which was appreciated! Sometimes this path can be a bit problematic, especially if you’re in a hurry for a train, so it was nice to see how much space there actually is, once the path’s been properly cleared.

It being Remembrance Sunday, and the 100th anniversary of the end of the First World War, we paused at 11 am to observe the two minute’s silence and hear Rhian read a poem from that war – Falling Leaves – that seemed suitable to mark the occasion.

As well as being slippery, wet leaves can be heavy work, so we decided to call it a day after about two hours, with the path much improved along its whole length (although the edges could still be cleared back at the Edinburgh Road end).

path afterwards

All in all, a job worth doing and a job well done. Thanks to everyone who turned out in the rain to help!group photo


Can you help? Leaf clearing Sunday 11th November

Can you join us on Sunday 11th November (from 10am) for a little DIY path clearing action?

Castledykes after
Clearer paths mean there’s room for everyone

Winter isn’t just coming – it seems like it’s already here, and as ever, there are still leaves on the paths around our cycling and walking network. Wet and frozen leaves are pretty slippy things so – given the continued lack of gritting on most of the off road paths – clearing them away helps keep cyclists and walkers safe (and also makes more room on our shared paths for everyone).

Every year we report issues with slippery paths and encroaching vegetation, but we’re also happy to take matters into our own hands if it helps!  That’s why we’re planning another leaf clearing day of action after the success of our last one last year.

If you can help, join us from 10am on Sunday 11th November at the station, ready to tackle the station path and beyond. If there are any paths you use which are particularly bad, let us know so we can prioritise our efforts. We will observe the traditional 2 minute silence at 11, or if you’re attending a Remembrance Day service, you may join us later.

Join us and Buddies on a Halloween Spooktacular

For families (or those who are still big kids at heart …) we have a Halloween treat in store for you on Wednesday 24th October

Buddies Halloween Ride poster

Join our buddies Buddies for an afternoon of Halloween thrills and chills. Starting at 2:30 with face painting fun at the Buddies Bike Barn (on Friars Vennel), we’ll then be taking a ride out at 4 for Dock Park – all along cycle paths so no fear of the traffic…

… There might be other things to fear though! By special appointment a few ghoulies and ghosties might well be waiting in the park, so if you’re of a nervous disposition be warned!

This is a family friendly ride, but children must be accompanied by a responsible adult. Bring your own bikes, or contact Buddies beforehand if you need to rent one of theirs – they have a range of options, including just standard bikes.

A note: although Buddies is an organisation for adults with learning difficulties, and the Bike Barn offers accessible and inclusive cycles for those who need a little extra help to get cycling, the members are very keen to share this event  (and the Bike Barn) with the whole community, so please do come along!

Meetings, Meetings

Just a quick reminder (for those who don’t keep an eye on our little sidebar thingy) that we will have our last scheduled monthly meeting of the year on Monday – 6pm at the Riverside Bar, Dock Park.

And a reminder of our AGM – for all new, old, lapsed and wannabe members on Saturday 20th October. We’ll be at Buddies’ Biker Barn at the Vennel from 3pm for anyone who wants to learn more about this fabulous new facility for cycling in Dumfries – and the meeting proper starts at 4. Tea, coffee and – inevitably – home baking will be provided.