When I got off the train in Dumfries back in August I was surprised to see Dumfries and Galloway’s (D&G) version of the Boris Bike. A few Bike2Go bikes were sitting at the station. I wondered then how often they were used – the answer is not much. An article in the Scotsman showed that the cost to the taxpayer of every journey was a whopping £101.37 as fewer than 20 bikes were rented each week http://www.scotsman.com/the-scotsman/scotland/dumfries-and-galloway-council-s-bike2go-scheme-costs-taxpayers-101-per-trip-1-2541900 The Council says the scheme is to remain for the long-term so it’s good they aren’t scrapping it and selling off the bikes. In the article Deputy Council Leader Brian Collins (also chairman of regional transport agency Swestrans) said ‘We’re seeking a change of mindset’, but changing mind-sets is about more than a few bikes.
Planning a trip around D&G by bus is a serious headache as services are few and far between, especially away from the towns. The area is a popular holiday destination but going without a car is practically impossible. The roads are good though – a joy to ride. I really noticed this on my ride from Newton Stewart to Girvan, the potholes started as soon as I crossed into South Ayrshire.
When I stayed in Newton Stewart I was told that the Council has stopped kerbside recycling because of the recession. Shame that a reduced budget hits recycling first. So I can’t help thinking that D&G Council has cut back on recycling and prefers to keep car drivers happy. Getting people to think differently and travel in a greener way will take more than a few rental bikes. It means spending a greater proportion of budgets on the environment (including better bus services and recycling) and greater leadership on environmental issues. Perhaps, it’s Councillor Collins and his colleagues who need to change their mind-sets.