Category Archives: Policy

Barriers to entry

Like a lot of people, we’re pretty excited at the imminent opening of the new Aldi just off the bypass tomorrow

New Aldi

Opening 22 June!

We were especially happy when we saw that the shop would have a path up from the Maxwelltown Cyclepath, meaning that cyclists and pedestrians could easily get to the store without having to worry about the A75/A76 roundabout. This is pretty forward-thinking for Dumfries retail stores, when you consider that getting to Cuckoo Bridge Retail park by anything other than a car (which also backs on to the cycle path) involves two sets of lights and then crossing right in front of  the KFC drive thru exit …

KFC drive thru

Here’s how cyclists enter the Cuckoo Bridge retail park now … right past the drive thru exit. Tasty …

So we were especially disappointed when we saw these barriers on the path, which are not only completely unnecessary, they also contravene design guidelines.

chicane barriers on the Aldi path

Here’s what Cycling By Design has to say on chicane barriers:

““If staggered (chicane) barriers are used, the arrangement should be designed to slow cyclists rather than force them to dismount. Chicane layouts should provide gaps of at least 3.0 metres between barriers and walls to permit access by tandems, tricycles and child trailers. Tonal contrast banding and night-time reflectivity will normally be required.”  It also goes on to state that “Chicanes should be placed at least 5.0 metres from any bend or junction, so riders can approach from straight on.”

As far as we can see, these barriers meet absolutely none of these requirements.

Buddies trike

Here are the sort of people who will really suffer from having these barriers

This means that less-able users – like those using the Buddies’ trike – will be unable to get to Aldi independently. This could also be a problem for those using wheelchairs and even pushing double buggies. The visually impaired will find them hard to see, and even someone on a normal bike will be squeezed into conflict with other users of the path as they try and negotiate these obstacles

We’ve contacted Aldi to find out what’s going on and they told us that this was a planning requirement from the council. So we asked the council for the reason why they’ve imposed these barriers – they suggested that cyclists would be expected to dismount and walk up and down the path – even though the cycle parking itself is right at the top near the store.

So what’s going on? We are none the wiser because our questions to the council as to why they have required these barriers have gone unanswered.

What’s really frustrating is that the council should be doing everything it can to make access to and from shops like Aldi from the cycle path as easy as possible. Otherwise new stores like this will just generate more congestion – especially on the bypass. Given the new hospital will be opening soon, also on the bypass (and also with a lack of forethought for the needs of cyclists as the council have refused to put in a light to help them cross the Garroch Loaning), we can only hope that the result won’t be further traffic jams and daily gridlock.

Aldi opens tomorrow – and we’ll definitely be giving it a go to see whether cyclists can indeed negotiate these chicanes. If you encounter problems, let us know and we’ll press hard to get the barriers removed or replaced by something accessible by all.

 

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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

Investment

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.

Infrastructure

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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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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Hospital routes – a site visit

On Saturday a couple of us took a ride out to Cargenbridge to have a look at where the proposed new routes to the hospital will be going. The plans are here (click for the full size version)

proposed routes

Proposed hospital routes – click for full size version

As you can see, the plan is for bikes to go down the Dalbeattie Road, and then dogleg along Hermitage Drive, before crossing where Park Road crosses the New Abbey Road now. There does seem to be an indication of an alternative route up Maxwell Street, which doesn’t quite take into account the fact that Maxwell Street goes vertically up the side of a hill – as cyclists, we’re all for a direct route, but deviating around the worst gradients is generally recommended.

There are some good features. Continuing the shared use pavement from Cargenbridge to the junction between Park Road and Dalbeattie Road avoids a nasty crossing at the moment

current crossing

Current crossing of the Dalbeattie Road to get to the shared use pavement on the other side

On the whole, we’re not fans of shared use pavements, but there is little foot traffic on this stretch of the road, so it’s probably acceptable.

Plans to improve the crossing of the New Abbey Road are also an improvement. At the moment this is such a tricky crossing, we have stopped taking family groups on it.

New Abbey Road crossing point

Where Park Road joins the New Abbey Road. Not at all easy to get across

However, we don’t think that on-road cycle lanes along the rest of the Dalbeattie Road will add anything at all to the cycling experience:

Dalbeattie Road

Lower end of the Dalbeattie Road

Either they will be parked on, in which case they will be pointless, or they will need to remove the parking altogether, in which case there would be room to put in a proper separated cycle track. However it’s possible there could be room here for Dumfries’s first parking-protected cycle lane, if they got rid of the centre line.

We still feel that the best bet would be to continue the current Park Road off-road path to the junction with New Abbey Road. There are fewer pedestrians to contend with and less demand for parking, plus it’s more direct for cyclists who intend to go along Rotchell Road and then down to Suspension Brae, or indeed on to Troqueer.

end of the Park road path

Park Road path, which currently just ends, on a bend.

We would also suggest extending the Park Road path in the other direction, all the way down past the roundabout and Garroch Loaning. This would  then enable cyclists to avoid crossing the Garroch Loaning altogether, if the current pavement on the far side of the road was extended all the way up to the viaduct

other end of the path

The other end of the Park road Path. If the road was a bit narrower here to make room for a wider path, speeds would be slower too.

If that’s all too difficult with land ownership, then we’d suggest closing one end of the Dalbeattie Road off altogether, reducing through traffic, so there would be no need for separate lanes.

If you want to put these or any other points to the council, don’t forget tomorrow’s consultation – pop in to Troqueer Primary School from 2 to 7:30 to have your say.

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If wishes were bicycles …

bike skid roadsignWe Walk, We Cycle, We Vote is asking what people would like to see changed in 2017. We will be starting 2017 off as we mean to go on – but we also hope that there will be improvements in Dumfries’s cycling network in the year to come and beyond.

In all our conversations with people, there’s one theme that emerges time and time again. We all know that having kids cycle to school is a good thing – good for the kids, good for the parents, good for school results (children who cycle or walk to school concentrate better than those who are driven, for example) – even good for drivers, who don’t find the roads clogged up as soon as the schools go back. And most children love the thought of cycling to school if they can, especially if their friends can do it too. In town, a lot of kids already walk to school – but for some the distances are just too far, especially in the outlying villages, where families aren’t entitled to free transport if they live within two miles (three for children over eight) of the school.

Wish for cycling

The problem is that we just don’t have a comprehensive enough safe network of cycle routes that would allow all children to choose cycling for those distances. We know from our summer rides that cycling two or three miles is well within the capabilities of most primary school children – as long as they’re separated from fast, busy traffic. In town they can manage on the pavement (but that’s not ideal for everyone else and is technically illegal even for a small child) but there are many rural roads without even a footpath and where children might be mixing with cars going at 60 mph. That’s stressful even for adult cyclists, let alone a small child (or more to the point the parent of a small child).

waiting for repairs

So here’s what we’d like to see in 2017. We’d like to see the council make a start towards designing a network that makes safe cycling to school possible for every child within the catchment. Safe enough for primary-age children with their parents, and secondary school age ones on their own. It can’t be done in a year, of course, but it would be wonderful if this became the council’s own stated aim – with a plan to make it happen.

What’s your wish for 2017?

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Local Transport Summit – our response

You may remember back in August, that the high heidyins came down from Edinburgh to talk about transport in the region and forgot all about walking and cycling.

Well, the report of the summit is out – and they are at least looking for feedback from those of us who didn’t get an invitation. You have until the end of October to respond – so have a read through and see what you think. You can respond by writing to D&G Transport Summit, Transport Scotland, Buchanan House, 58 Port Dundas Road, Glasgow, G4 0HF

Or email to: dandgsummit@transport.gov.scot

For what it’s worth, here’s what we’re saying below. But we’re sure you’ll have things to add yourselves…

Dumfries and Galloway Transport Summit – Cycling Dumfries’ response

– We were disappointed to see that no active travel organisations were invited to the meeting (not even Sustrans who have funded a lot of the existing infrastructure) whereas the ‘Dual the A75’ pressure group were invited.

– Active travel and/or walking and cycling barely get a mention in the report (one mention each) and then only in the context of the council’s Active Travel Strategy which has yet to be implemented.

We believe that active travel (particularly cycling) has a significant role to play in the region’s economy:

Inclusion

The summit noted the difficulties already in the region for those without access to a car. We propose that D&G council work with the Scottish Government to create a network of safe, direct and attractive cycle routes which can be used not just by fit adult cyclists but by those transporting children or using adaptive cycles (including e-bikes). These should prioritise linking all communities within a 5 mile radius to the train stations/major bus routes in the region. We consider safe routes to include lightly trafficked roads (less than 2,000 vehicles a day), separated cycle tracks along busier roads, and traffic-free routes away from roads (as long as they are well-lit and subject to winter maintenance). The evidence from the UK, continental Europe and North America is that where such routes are available, people choose to cycle and these routes particularly benefit women, older cyclists, people with disabilities (including those using mobility scooters) and those needing to transport children. This would make it easier for lower income households and particularly young adults to access work and education opportunities. It would also particularly benefit those who work outside normal office hours, when public transport is not widely available. Finally, more people cycling and walking can help to reduce isolation, especially in villages and towns.

Buses

The summit noted the problems of maintaining a sustainable rural bus service. We feel that cycling has a role to play here – multimodal journeys (e.g. cycling to the bus stop, or on from the bus) open up each bus route to a wider catchment area of passengers. For this to work, however, people need to be able to leave their bikes securely at bus stops, or take their bikes onto the buses. Bus stops could also offer secure charging points for e-bikes, which would attract a wider variety of cyclists. At the moment, only the 500 and the X74 bus routes take bikes. Although EU regulations make the carriage of bikes on rcks on buses complicated, it is not impossible (and most rural buses are empty enough that bikes could potentially be carried inside the bus with a bit of flexibility, especially if the wheelchair space is not in use). Encouraging people to cycle and walk within town centres instead of driving will also cut congestion, enabling more reliable bus services within towns.

The summit also noted the pressure that both the Dumfries Learning Town and the new hospital will put on bus services and the local road network. We believe that creating direct, safe, traffic-free routes between the schools and the learning hub, and to the new hospital (including a safe crossing of Garroch Loaning) will help to reduce private car usage and take pressure off the buses. In particular, there is no reason why most secondary school children could not cycle between education sites within Dumfries as long as the routes between them are safe. This would also have the benefit of increasing their activity rates during the day, with well-understood knock on benefits on learning, behaviour, health and obesity.

Rural economy

Dumfries and Galloway benefits from being on a number of long distance cycle routes, including the main west coast Lands End to John O’Groats route. Its network of quiet rural roads offer very attractive routes to touring cyclists who can spend large amounts of money in the local economy. However, it is not doing enough to maximise the benefit these visitors could bring. Better signposting of routes (including signposting passing cyclists to shops and cafes en route), better routes through towns and villages rather than skirting them, and potentially the conversion of disused railways to cycle routes, could all attract more visitors and encourage them to spend more.

Retail economy

Dumfries and Galloway benefits from a number of towns offering a good variety of specialist shops (Castle Douglas and Wigtown for example) while Dumfries is a major retail destination for the area having to compete with Carlisle and online shopping. We believe that by making these towns more attractive to active travel, retailers will benefit. Customers who cycle, walk or use public transport shop more often, and are more likely to visit independent local retailers rather than national out-of-town stores. This means a greater share of every pound they spend stays in the local economy. With more and more shopping moving online, high streets need to offer an attractive destination and pleasant experience to encourage shoppers to linger and window-shop which also encourages them to visit cafes, pubs and restaurants. By restricting the passage of cars through retail areas (while offering them plenty of free, attractive and convenient parking at the margins), streets automatically become more pleasant places to linger. This also encourages people to cycle and walk for short journeys, as it is less convenient to drive for trips of less than one mile.

Health

Regular active travel has obvious benefits for the health of the population, and those who cycle to work are less likely to take sick days off, with benefits to their employers. Dumfries and Galloway has high levels of poor health outcomes, most of which would be improved if people were more active, reducing pressure on the local NHS and care services. Building exercise into everyday activities, such as cycling to work, is also a more effective way to prevent weight gain, reducing obesity (and related health problems) overall.

The immediate actions we would like to see the area take are:

– The council to implement its Active Travel strategy in full.

– The Scottish Government to investigate ways to ensure that more central government funding for active travel comes down to the region (e.g. improve the scope and quality of the funding applications, and have more plans ready to submit when there are short notice opportunities for funding)

– All parties to ensure that any future considerations of transport issues give equal weight to active travel alongside road, rail and public transport.

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