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