Cycling restriction proposed in Belfast

One-way proposal angers cycling organisations

Cycling could be restricted on two streets in Belfast, Ireland as part of the city council's Streets Ahead programme. That means cyclists could be forced onto busy roads.

Cycling organisations have objected to the news that cycling on Donegall Place and Queen Street may be restricted to one-way only.

Steven Patterson, Sustrans Director for Northern Ireland is dismayed by the plan: "This will make cycle journeys longer and put people off using their bikes to get into the city."

As part of Streets Ahead, the city is investing £7 million in renewal works on Donegall Place and Castle Place. Initial partial pedestrianisation with buses running in one direction only is to be followed eventually by full pedestrianisation when the city centre transport plan is fully implemented.

A major concern is that making the streets one-way for cyclists would force them to use some of the busiest roads in the city instead.

CTC Councillor for Northern Ireland Barry Flood said: "Both in terms of cyclist safety and encouraging cycling in Belfast this perverse decision, taken in the face of professional advice to the contrary, is incomprehensible and will put the lives of ordinary cyclists in Belfast city centre at completely unnecessary risk."

Clear and unequivocal support for cycling infrastructure from Belfast City Council does seem difficult to find. Despite a proposed cycle route network, which includes Donegall Place, being included in the Belfast Metropolitan Transport Plan of 2004, the same document says "As a result of varying levels of congestion, topography and land-use, a blanket city-wide approach to providing a cycle network is unlikely to be appropriate in Belfast."

The Streets Ahead masterplan of 2006 again says this is the case.

On the plus side, the council did just recently agree to talk with Friends of the Earth about their Belfast Cycle City 2020 campaign, which calls for a 10 percent target for cycling in the city by 2020, a £15 per head annual spend on cycling and a new cycle strategy for Belfast. They also are considering a motion to look into public bike hire schemes....

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