A local group, the Greenway to Stay Campaign is fighting against proposals to tear up the Comber Greenway in the Irish city of Belfast to build a rapid bus network.
The Department of Regional Development (DRD) has already spent £250,000 on turning the seven-mile stretch from Belfast to Comber into a green haven for walkers and cyclists (due or final completion this October), but are now proposing to use five miles of the greenway from the Holywood Arches to Dundonald as a £147m rapid bus network instead.
Dr Bryan Burke is a supporter of keeping the greenway as it is as and has hit out at the DRD plans. “It is a ridiculous situation,” he said. “Thanks to people like Sustrans and the DRD we got the pathway into a great condition, but now, ironically because of the DRD, the same people who invested the money are now going to destroy it.”
A DRD spokeswoman said the work to the picturesque greenway was undertaken “in the full knowledge that the line would in the future be used for rapid transit. “We took a decision that walkers and cyclists should benefit from the space in the meantime and that we could build an interim pathway that people could enjoy whilst the rapid transit proposals were being developed.”
A Sustrans spokesman summed up their opposition to the scheme: “Whilst Sustrans wholeheartedly supports improvements to public transport, we have concerns if these improvements are made to the detriment of walking and cycling. We have written to the DRD Minister Conor Murphy MP, MLA and a number of politicians in East Belfast to raise our concerns and to seek clarity on the proposals.
“Most experts agree that movement away from car use can best be done through a mixture of measures, crucially including the re-allocation of road space to give public and active transport priority over car travel. This (as leading European cities have demonstrated) enables people to make more sustainable travel choices which is our shared vision for the future of Belfast.”