Belfast Telegraph

Saturday 23 August 2014

Latest city centre accident sparks call for pedestrian zone

Fresh calls have been made for Belfast city centre to become a pedestrianised zone after another shopper was knocked down in the busy retail area yesterday.

Former Lord Mayor Jim Rodgers said yesterday’s accident, where an elderly woman was knocked down by a car as she crossed the busy Royal Avenue just outside the entrance of Castle Court shortly after 2pm, was another example of why traffic should be removed from the area.

Dozens of Christmas shoppers watched in shock as police and paramedics attended to the distressed elderly woman, who was knocked down by the silver car which was displaying R-plates.

A PSNI spokesman said they received a report shortly after 2pm that a pedestrian had been struck down on Royal Avenue and had been taken to hospital for treatment for non-life threatening injuries.

Just over two weeks ago, Dunmurry teenager Ciara Park died after she was knocked down by a bus at the busy intersection of Royal Avenue and Castle Place. The site is just metres from yesterday’s accident.

Following Ciara’s death it emerged she was the third person to be hit by a bus in the city centre that week. A 48-year-old man was hit by a bus at the junction of Donegall Square North and Donegall Square West on November 8 and a girl was hit by a bus as she stepped off a kerb, but was not injured on November 12.

Buses are the only vehicles allowed along Royal Avenue at all times. However, delivery vans can use the road to make deliveries until 11am. Cars are not permitted to drive along Royal Avenue.

“We need that whole area pedestrianised,” Jim Rodgers told the Belfast Telegraph last night.

“The unfortunate thing is that there are plans — that probably won’t come into operation for three to four years — to have Royal Avenue as a one-way system. Donegall Place will be pedestrianised, but the rest of it will not.

“I feel Donegall Place and Royal Avenue should be pedestrianised.

“Everyday when you walk along Donegall Place with cars parked on either side and into Royal Avenue, especially at its junction with Castle Street and Place as well as the shopping centre, you are asking for trouble.

“With Castle Court, people just wander across, thinking it’s pedestrianised and it’s not.”

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