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

 

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Making headway with the hospital

Thanks to intrepid councillors Ronnie Nicholson and Jeff Leaver who joined us on bikes yesterday afternoon to look at options for new routes to the hospital from Troqueer.

Councillors at New Abbey Road
Jeff Leaver and Ronnie Nicholson discussion options for pedestrians and cyclists for New Abbey Road with Sustrans officers and Cycling Dumfries members

As we reported last year, the initial plans for this route were pretty timid and ended up pleasing nobody. Fortunately, with the help of Sustrans, the council have gone back to the drawing board and from what we’ve heard and seen, the results will be a major improvement – and not just for cycling.

So far, they’ve only looked at New Abbey Road and the junctions with Pleasance Avenue and Park Road, so there are no plans yet for the Park Road path or the Dalbeattie Road, which is where things get really tricky. However, we spent a bit of time looking at the conditions on the road with both councillors and with two Sustrans officers and there were lots of ideas about how things could be better. There’s really no substitute for getting out and seeing what the road and the traffic are like for understanding what can (and needs) to be done to make a route safer for cycling and more pleasant for walking.

The ensuing conversations, both on the road and with officers beforehand were constructive and useful and have left us feeling uncharacteristically optimistic that we’ll see some positive changes for active travel in this corner of town. Chapeau!

Hardthorn Road … Finally!

One of the more baffling cycle paths in Dumfries has finally been sorted out. The shared-use path along Hardthorn Road has been a bit of a joke for years – starting on one side of the road and then suddenly crossing over to the other side halfway along it’s length because … well, no we don’t really know why either. We did ask the council and they did give an explanation but it didn’t make any sense so we’ve forgotten what it was.

Hardthorn Road looking to town
Hardthorn road path crossing from one side to the other. Image from Google Streetview

But all that has changed – it’s still a shared use path (which isn’t brilliant) but it does now at least allow you to not have to cross a fast and fairly busy road to get from the Maxwelltown Path to the new school in Lochside.

new Hardthorn road path
No need to cross the road any more at least

It even continues a bit further, and while there’s no priority across this side road, the crossing is raised up to the surface of the road which will make it much safer (and more convenient) – all good news when the school opens and the area is busy with kids.

Hardthorn road crossing
Raised crossing at Alloway Road

It’s a shame we’re not seeing a proper segregated cycleway here, with pedestrians, cyclists and drivers all getting their own space (as you can see from the pictures, there’s plenty of room) but at least it’s no longer completely bonkers. And finished before the school opens to boot – credit all round!

 

Buddies Bike Barn

four person bike
Fun in Dock Park in April at Buddies’ inclusive cycling day

Can you help bring cycling to people who might not otherwise have the chance? Buddies will be opening their inclusive cycling project, the Bike Barn, within the next few weeks and they need people to help out. If you’ve got time free on a Sunday, could you lend a hand? You don’t necessarily need any special skills beyond a love of bikes and an eagerness to share that with everyone, whatever their ability. For those who can commit a bit more time, there may be training available, but even if all you can offer is a few hours this summer that would be a great help.

Four on a bike
Because a ‘bike’ needn’t mean a two wheeler- it could even be something like this

If you’re interested, drop Buddies a line at info@buddiesdumfries.co.uk / nelliedipstick@yahoo.co.uk or 01387 256 312, or get in touch with us and we’ll pass it on. Having spent some time working with Buddies and helping out at their last two inclusive cycling events – we know you won’t regret it. There’s really nothing like seeing someone take to two, three, or four wheels for the first time under their own power (or with a bit of assistance). And with Buddies involved, it’s guaranteed to be good fun.

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

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?

 

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.