Please copy and paste. Personalise it with the story of your commute, and how contending with taxis would make it worse for you. Use They Work For You to find your MLAs. Enter your postcode to find your six MLAs, follow the link to write to them. Select all six. Paste the text into the e-mail. Enter your details, send and confirm.
I am writing to you in the hope that you could use your influence and at the last minute dissuade the Minister for Regional Development, Danny Kennedy, from allowing taxis into bus lanes.
The decision to allow taxis into bus lanes will reverse the positive trend of cycling uptake achieved in recent years. The Minister’s decision flies in the face of best road design practise, disregards vulnerable road users’ health and safety and goes against DRD and DHSSPS’s stated aim at encouraging more people to take up active travel.
The 2011 census has revealed that in South and East Belfast the modal share of commuting cyclists now approaches 10%. This is despite the total lack of investment in cycling by the Department of Regional Development, and a paucity of support from the legislators at Stormont. Nearly 1 in 6 commuters in South and East Belfast use bike, bus or train. It is clear this is where the growth is happening and where investment needs to be targeted to sustain a positive and sustainable trend.
In contrast the share of people commuting by taxi has declined sharply in the period from 2001 to 2011.
The recent consultation got 71 responses, with only 7 in favour of the proposal. Of the 7, 3 were taxi companies with a vested interest. Those rejecting the proposal were dismissed as –it is reported- “a bunch of cyclists”. The impression gained by the public is that the consultation was a tick-box exercise, a “done-deal”, with the suspicion that money ended up in party coffers to help the Minister make the “right” decision.
Cyclists sharing with buses in bus lanes is not best practice, and across the EU municipalities are separating non-motorised traffic, pedestrians and motorised traffic. However, sharing with buses is better than sharing with buses and taxis. The average speed of a bus (at 9mph) and cyclist (at 12mph) are broadly similar. Bus drivers are professionals and mostly look out for other road users. Existing cyclists easily share with buses and potential cyclists, knowing there is relative safety in a bus lane, might take up cycling too.
However, whatever work was done painting lovely Advance Stop Lines and bicycle motifs on our roads will be undone by a deeply regressive step of opening up the bus lane to fast motorised traffic. The safety of other road users is at stake, in particular vulnerable road users. I would not like to be the first person to be scooped by a speeding taxi, get seriously injured or even killed.
I trust you will take this up with the Minister.