Published: 25th APRIL 2024

Walking lets me enjoy the outdoors with my son: Dionne’s story

The first ever Walking and Cycling Index for Dunfermline revealed that 48% of its residents walk or wheel at least five days a week. In this blog, we hear from one resident who enjoys exploring the historic streets of Scotland’s newest city with her young son.

What is the Walking and Cycling Index, and what does it mean for Dunfermline?

The Walking and Cycling Index is the biggest assessment of walking, wheeling and cycling in urban areas in the UK and Ireland. In Scotland, the Index is delivered by Sustrans in collaboration with eight cities. Each city reports on the progress made towards making walking, wheeling and cycling more attractive, everyday ways to travel.

Participants are shown using E-trishaws during a Cycling without Age ride. There are two E-trishaws, each with a rider and two people sat in front.

Participants are shown using E-trishaws during a Cycling Without Age ride in Dunfermline's Pittencrieff Park. Credit: Brian Sweeney/Sustrans

The Index reports every two years. This is the first report from Dunfermline produced in partnership with Fife Council. The data in this report comes from 2023 and includes local walking, wheeling and cycling data, modelling and an independent survey of 1,338 residents aged 16 or above in the city.

The Index found that, in Dunfermline, 48% of residents walk or wheel five days a week, and that 9% of residents cycle at least once a week. 

Overall in the city, 26% of residents want to drive less, yet 42% of residents often use a car because no other transport options are available. And in terms of funding, 57% of residents would like to see more government spending in the area on walking and wheeling. 

In this blog, to mark publication of the Index for Dunfermline, resident Dionne shares her experience of using an e-bike as a main form of transport in the city. 

A mum and her young son are shown in front of the Dunfermline Abbey.

Dionne and her son Leo pictured outside Dunfermline Abbey. Credit: Brian Sweeney/Sustrans

The benefits of walking  

My name is Dionne, I live in Dunfermline with my son Leo. I like Dunfermline because it has a lot of history and a lot of beautiful buildings and really nice places to walk! The people are really friendly and although it is a city, it is small, so I feel like you can get to know people and places really well. 

On the days I am not working and when I've got Leo we usually go out at least once a day, sometimes twice, depending on the weather. There are so many benefits to walking, not only physical but there’s also the mental health aspect as well. Getting us both out of the house I feel just does us both a world of good and it is a great way of spending quality time together as well. Walking is important to me because it helps me clear my head. I am a runner, that's what I do in my spare time when I am not with Leo and I have a bit of time for myself. Walking lets me enjoy the outdoors with him. We both really enjoy it! 

Our favourite places to walk to are either the local park where we stay, or we like to come down to Pittencrieff Park, which is a little bit further, but it is probably our favourite! What I like the most about Pittencrieff Park is the sheer size of it. It is so big, there are so many different places in the park to go to. If I take Leo, then we can access the swings and the slides. Then we can go round to where the greenhouses are where we can look at flowers, also the peacocks, just to look at them. I don't know any other cities that have something like that - it makes Dunfermline stand out.

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Getting us both out of the house I feel just does us both a world of good and it is a great way of spending quality time together as well. Blockquote quotation marks

Navigating the city with a buggy

We use the buggy for all of our walks. The main barriers we face in the city are the pavements being quite narrow, and parked cars are also quite an issue. We struggle to navigate the streets without having to go on the road, especially by the house. It is not so much of an issue further down into the city centre, but it is definitely an issue here! Also, if people have their bins out, it can also prevent us from accessing the pavement properly. Sometimes we have to go onto the road in order to get where we need to be which is obviously not very safe.

I think that one way of making our neighbourhood more accessible and welcoming for buggy users would be if the pavement could be widened a little bit. I know that during Covid, pavements in Edinburgh were widened for cyclists and pedestrians. If this was considered in Dunfermline then I think it would help a lot of people use pavements more and maybe make some consider walking more.

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The main barriers we face in the city are the pavements being quite narrow, and parked cars are also quite an issue. Blockquote quotation marks
Two adults are shown walking with a young child through a park.

A family enjoys Pittencrieff Park in Dunfermline. Credit: Brian Sweeney/Sustrans

A person is shown cycling under a bridge on a traffic-free path in wooded land in Dunfermline.

Cycling on the West Fife Way, also known as National Cycle Network route 764, in Dunfermline. Credit: Brian Sweeney/Sustrans

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