No Space for Cycling Here

The Department of Infrastructure Cycling Unit posted on Facebook:

Improvements are on the way for cycling and public transport on the Albertbridge Road. The benefits, which are being delivered as part of the Belfast Rapid Transit works, include improvements to drainage, resurfacing of the road and footpaths, enhanced street lighting, and additional lengths of bus lane which, of course, can be used by cyclists. The works are due to start on Monday 29 August.

In order to deliver these benefits the works will necessitate the suspension of the section of existing cycle lane over the length of the works. We would ask cyclists to extra care for the duration of the works, which are due to be completed by summer 2017.

They decorate their announcement of the bus lane improvement on the Albertbridge Road with pictures of Belfast’s best bits of cycling infrastructure: segregated cycleways and Belfast Bikes.

Stranmillis Embankment (Cycling Unit)

Alfred Street (Cycling Unit)

I questioned why cyclists are made to share with buses. Perceived lack of safety is a constant complaint from colleagues who don’t cycle into work using the Lisburn Road’s peak time bus lane.

Here’s the BRT team response:

‘Along the BRT routes we have endeavoured, where physically possible, to provide 12m carriageways (4 x 3m lanes) with 2.5m footways on either side. To provide dedicated cycle infrastructure on these corridors would require at least a further 3m of roadwidth, which is simply not available along much of the routes, including this section of the Albertbridge Road’.

The Cycling Unit adds:

From the Cycling Unit’s perspective: we have been working on a draft Bicycle Network Plan for Belfast which we hope to consult on very soon.

We are striving to create separate cycling provision where possible over the next ten years, however, we see bus and cycle lanes as an interim measure until such routes are available.

It is a scandal major pieces of traffic infrastructure are given the go ahead without considering cyclists. The plans for Belfast Rapid Transit barely mentioned cycling and now it’s being built across Belfast it is clear the routes are not made suitable for cycling. We have unforgiving high kerbs, especially at bus stops, and pinch points. 

In the years since the BRT was consulted on, cycling in Belfast has changed dramatically: numbers have increased; there is the highly successful Belfast Bikes hire scheme.

But still the BRT continues as if it’s ten years ago. It contains no plans for cycleways or infrastructure that will entice more people out on their bikes, even where space allows to construct these. People don’t want to cycle with a bus right up their backside. It is intimidating, however well the driver is trained.

And is there no space as the BRT team assert? Like here on the Albertbridge Road, where ample space is afforded to parking:


The only lack of space for cycling is in the imagination of the Belfast Rapid Transit team. They obviously value storage of private vehicles on public roads more than moving people from A to B.