Category Archives: News

Spring into April – Accessible bike day and more

Great news: Buddies will be running another of their accessible cycling days in Dock Park, this time on April 14th.

Buddies accessible cycling poster

Last year this was a great occasion and people had a wonderful time trying out all sorts of different bikes, trikes, and quads – including one centenarian. At Cycling Dumfries we strongly believe that cycling shouldn’t be just for the fit and the brave – and we embrace all sorts of cycling, pedal powered and e-assisted alike. Please do come along if you can and spread the word to anyone you know who would love to take up cycling but feels that for one reason or another they can’t manage a standard bike. It may just transform their lives

tandem trike

One of the many highlights of the bike barbecue was seeing a centenarian getting pedalling again (with a little assistance…). Photo Jim Craig.

Speaking of the fit and the brave – we’re delighted to learn that the Dumfries Farmers’ Market is moving from the Tarff Valley carpark on the Lockerbie Road to the train station covered parking (or “The Victorian Pavilion” as we must now learn to call it. Cycling up the Lockerbie Road is no fun, and it’s meant that this opportunity to sample local produce and goods has been pretty much limited to those who can come by car. The station is brilliantly sited between the Maxwelltown Path and the Caledonian cycleway and also has masses of bike parking, making a trip to the market the perfect Sunday outing. The first one will be held on Easter Sunday, April 1st and we urge everyone to give cycling there a go. See you there!

We’re also about to start our regular monthly meetings again – just sorting out the details of day, and venue, so watch this space

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Showing our Cycle Routes a little love for Valentine’s Day

If you’re out and about on the cycle paths around Dumfries – look out for this mysterious symbol popping up on the cycle paths…

#ILOH Insert Loved One Here

#ILOH – Insert Loved One Here

Last year we wrote about the Insert Loved One Here campaign that was highlighting poor cycling infrastructure that puts cyclists into danger. However we also want to celebrate the positive so we’ve joined with the Cycling Embassy of Great Britain and We Walk We Cycle We Vote for a Valentine’s day special celebrating the cycle paths we love too

ILOH - the Cuckoo Bridge

Cuckoo Bridge – better than the A75/A76 roundabout

Things like the Cuckoo Bridge mean cyclists can float up and over the A75/A76 roundabout without having to tackle three lanes of traffic.

ILOH - Maxwelltown Path

The Maxwelltown Path – safe, level enjoyable cycling

The Maxwelltown Path offers a stress-free route almost from the station to the new hospital – and it’s well lit, level, and a pleasant place to ride.

Loreburne Bridge #ILOH

Loreburne Bridge – you don’t miss it till it’s closed

The Loreburne Bridge and the KM Bridge offer traffic free routes across the Nith – we maybe don’t appreciate them until they’re closed for repairs – and then we realise what a key link they are to the cycling network.

We spend a lot of time complaining about stuff here on Cycling Dumfries because we are passionate about improving the cycle routes and we can see so many places where things could be better. But we’re happy to give praise where it’s due – and spread a little love too. We hope it brighten’s people’s day to see something as mundane, but as useful, as a cycle path given a little love.

If you’re worried – the #ILOH heart tags aren’t paint – it’s spray chalk and it’s environmentally friendly. It should wash cleanly off after a week or two of the weather we’ve been having. But we thought we’d take the time to celebrate the paths we love, and where we’re happy to see our loved ones ride

Where would you ‘insert loved one here’ in Dumfries?

 

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Need more pulling power?

cycling dumfries trailer

Trailer for loan or rent …

As you may know, Cycling Dumfries has a bike trailer which we use for events – but it’s also available for loan to our members (for free) or to non-members for a small donation.  A bike trailer can make the difference between your bike being a fun way to get around to starting to be a serious replacement for some car journeys – especially if you’ve got an e-bike for that bit of extra oomph.

bike and trailer

Bike and trailer all set up

Cycling Dumfries member Viki is hoping that will be the case for her. She’s a recent convert to her e-bike, which she bought in August, and she’s been all but unstoppable since, but even with capacious panniers the weekly shop has defeated her. She lives a few miles out of town, but the e-bike’s assistance makes the 7 or so miles no problem, and she was keen to see if a trailer would make shopping by bike feasible.

So today we sorted out the trailer hitch onto her bike and hooked it up – the work of a few minutes. Once the hitch is in place, attaching the trailer is quick and easy, and there’s both a catch and a failsafe strap so your groceries don’t go sailing back down a hill in the unlikely event of the catch breaking.

Pulling a trailer can feel a little odd at first, but this one follows your bike faithfully, and although it looks substantial, it’s actually no wider than most handlebars, so if your bike fits through a gap, so too will the trailer. As a bonus, you get extra room on the road as you do look quite a bit wider than a standard bike.

Viki with e-bike and trailer

Ready to roll! Watch this space to find out how she gets on

Viki’s promised to report back on her first weekly shop – and if all goes well, she’ll be investing in a trailer of her own. But you don’t have to be looking to buy one – we’re happy to lend it out for one-off jobs or regular events. If you’d like to borrow a trailer to try just get in touch (cyclingdumfries AT gmail DOT com) and we’ll set the wheels in motion.

 

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2017: A Year in Review

As we look forward to 2018 (and our New Year’s Day ride) it seems like a good moment to look back at some of the highlights of 2017, month by month:

post lunch group shot

Starting off 2017 as we meant to go on with a ride down to Caerlaverock

In January we held our first New Year’s Day ride – and had one of our best turnouts ever! Hopefully the weather will be as kind again on Monday.

In February, the weather forced a cancellation of our final winter ride – but that wasn’t enough to stop some hardy souls! In fact, weather of one sort of another was a bit of a theme for the year this year …

Safe routes

What do people want to walk and cycle? Safe routes …

In March we were (fortunately indoors!) at the Environment Fair, playing Scalectrix and introducing the good people of Dumfries to our Polygon of Perplexity which once more confirmed what we hear time and again from people – they want to see safe routes to walk and cycle.

In April with local and national elections in full swing, we joined in and got our local council candidates out on bikes to see for themselves the issues that make it harder for people to choose cycling as an everyday means of transport – especially our school children, who might benefit the most.

Elaine Murray on a tandem

Elaine Murray, council leader, taking a back seat on a tandem at the Nith Inshore Rescue open day 

In May we were out and about again meeting people and spreading the word and giving out tandem rides at the Nith Inshore Rescue open day

Cycling Dumfries as you’ve never seen us before …

In June – we discovered that the new Aldi was putting up barriers to entry (although after an email or two it was all sorted out by September and we’re enjoying shopping there now with its seamless access to the Maxwelltown path). The real highlight was probably parading through town with the Buddies as a biker gang for Guid Nychburris.

tandem trike

One of the many highlights of the bike barbecue was seeing a centenarian getting pedalling again (with a little help from his friend…)

In July our summer rides kicked off with a bang after we joined forces with Buddies’ Bike Barbecue, with bikes of every size and shape available for folk to try …  it just showed that there’s really no barrier to pedalling if you can find the right bike, trike, or quadricycle (and with some electric assistance, hills and distance can melt away too).

at tea

Soggy but smiling …

In August, we braved the rain for an epic “Cake Raid” on Durisdeer – it says something about cycling in Scotland that even in August you can worry about your ride participants getting hypothermia. However, we all survived and were still smiling at the end, even if our socks didn’t dry out for a week.

St Michaels pupils

Schoolkids from St. Michaels arriving en masse for breakfast

September saw not only our by now traditional bike breakfast  with a visitation from a massed party of primary school kids – chapeau to the brave teachers of St Michaels for arranging to bring them all along – but we also joined forces with Incredible Edibles and the shopkeepers of the Friars’ Vennel to take over an illegal parking spot for Parking Day

Standard journalist

From (illegal) parking space to pop-up park!

In October we didn’t let the clocks going back mark the end of our cycling season – instead we kicked off our winter ride programme and lit up the night with an after dark Halloween ride which was very chilly but great fun.

Maidenbower aftef

The Maidenbower Path cleared of leaves

In November we got a bit sick of the annual battle to try and get the cycle paths cleared of leaves and took matters into our own hands – looks like we might have to take a similar approach to gritting if things don’t improve on the Maxwelltown Path though.

December has been a little quieter – although Cycling Dumfries members Rhian Davies and Rosie Rutherford did brave freezing weather to encourage commuters to the new hospital to get there by sustainable means in the way we know best: home baking. We’ve been in a long-fought battle to improve the routes to and from the hospital – and it’s not over yet – but at least we can do what we can to encourage people to cycle there on the routes there are.

So, another busy year has (almost) passed and who knows what 2018 holds in store for us – but if this year is anything to go by we can guess it will include at least some fun, more rain than we’d like, and copious quantities of cake. We hope you’ll join us for some or all of it – starting on New Year’s Day!

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A Job Well Done

broomstick on bike

In case you were wondering how to transport a broom on a bike …

Big thanks to everyone who turned out today to help clear leaves off the various cycle paths around Dumfries. It was a gloriously sunny if chilly day, and many hands definitely made light work, especially in the morning.

We started at Castledykes Park, where a combination of beech mast and leaves, bends and steep gradients has caused problems for many cyclists at this time of year. Although the path had clearly had some attention, the banks of leaves on either side were just waiting to be blown back over the path – while there was a fair build up of ‘leaf jam’ even on the swept sections.

Castledykes before

Castledykes before we started

Forty minutes later we had 8 bags of leaves and a much wider path – round one completed!

Castledykes after

The cleanup gang on a much wider path

After fortifying ourselves with mince pies we set off to our next port of call – the Maidenbower Path. With a 12% gradient, and overhanging trees, this is a spectacular route from Georgetown to the Crichton but leaves very little room for error when it’s leafy underfoot (or underwheel). The crew were so eager to get going we didn’t manage a proper before photo.

starting work on the Maidenbower Path

Getting cracking on the worst section of the Maidenbower

Once again, it didn’t take long with eight helpers to reveal a much wider path underneath all those leaves.

Maidenbower aftef

The same stretch of path after clearing

After a well-deserved warming lunch of soup, courtesy of the Rutherfords, a somewhat depleted crew headed to the Caledonian path, which always seems to be thick with leaves. By this time, arms were tired and we’d already killed one broom and fatally wounded a rake, so we concentrated on the worst stretch, from the Moffat Road down towards the station.

Caledonian path before clearing

The Caledonian path before clearing

The leaves had begun to break down and were well stuck to the tarmac but we were pretty practised by then and managed to get the worst of it off and once more reveal a much wider path than you might expect. This means not only are cyclists safer on their bikes, but there’s more room for everyone on the path, reducing conflict.

Caledonian finishing

Finishing off on the Caledonian path in the last of the afternoon light

While we were out on those paths, the Rotary Club were also hard at work on the Maxwelltown Path, with the viaduct looking absolutely sparkling on the way back. All in all, a good day’s work – and hopefully it will set us all up for a safer winter. Thanks again to everyone who helped out

We couldn’t do everything – and the leaves are still falling in places – but the council do sweep the paths when they get reports that it’s needed. So if your own route is hazardous with leaves, do let the council know, or tell us and we’ll pass it on.

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Sweating the small stuff

Back in June we had a bit of a moan about the barriers to the new Aldi store off the Maxwelltown cycle path

chicane barriers on the Aldi path

Indeed, we didn’t just moan – we wrote to Aldi, and to the council, to see if they could be made more accessible by at least widening the gap between the barriers so that non-standard bikes such as trikes, tandems and hand cycles could also take advantage of the path up to the new shop.

Well glory be, it seems that someone has listened:

Lots of people have let us know about this – and we’ve had confirmation that a tandem can now get through, where it couldn’t before, so it has genuinely removed a barrier to cycling for those who can’t use a standard bike for whatever reason.

Whether it was our email or everyone else who contacted them, a sudden rush of common sense, or the fact that one of Aldi’s cycling specials is coming up (28th September) and they didn’t want to put off any of their likely customers, we don’t know. But it does show that it is worth raising these problems, large and small, whenever they arise. We’ll always do what we can to help draw attention to these sorts of barriers to cycling – and occasionally they may even get sorted out.

So thank you, whoever it was who sorted this out!

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“I had that Elaine Murray on the back of my tandem once”

We had a good afternoon at the Nith Inshore Rescue open day yesterday – we couldn’t really compete with the excitement of the Coastguard’s helicopter, but we did get the chance to take a few local politicians for a ride!

Elaine Murray on a tandem

Elaine Murray, council leader, taking a back seat for once

Both our new council leader, Labour’s Elaine Murray, and our SNP MSP Emma Harper were good enough sports to try out the tandem. Perhaps good practice for the coming SNP/Labour coalition ahead?

Emma Harper MSP

Emma Harper MSP setting off with Cycling Dumfries member John Rutherford

Not to be outdone, Tory MSP Oliver Mundell put in a very respectable time on the Brompton folding challenge.

Oliver Mundell

Oliver Mundell learning the finer points of Brompton wrangling

All in all it was a good chance to make some friendly connections with our local politicians, who were refreshingly ready to have a go at something and talk bikes with us. We’ll be following up more formally with the new administration – both Labour and the SNP have made strong promises about funding for cycling and walking in both Edinburgh and Glasgow, so we’re hopeful that this new enlightened approach will also make its way to Dumfries and Galloway.

 

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