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Belfast Bike user 'lucky to escape serious injury' after vandals remove wheel bolt

Council forking our £1,800 a month due to vandalism

By Jonathan Bell

A Belfast Bike user said he was lucky to escape serious injury or worse after the wheel came off his bicycle because vandals had removed the bolt attaching it to the frame.

Adam Turkington - the former director of Belfast Culture Night - was cycling into the city from the east when the incident happened near to Queen's Bridge.

As he pulled up on the handlebars to mount a curb he came down and the wheel gave way.

"I had actually been cycling in from CS Lewis Square, so I had come quite the distance," he told the Belfast Telegraph.

"I thought the wheel was a bit warped but I didn't think it was fully loose, and had intended to report it when I left it back."

Adam went over the handlebar hitting the pavement leaving him dazed and confused. An ambulance was called and he was deemed to have bruised ribs so did not attend accident and emergency.

"My first thought was 'what happened, am I alright, have I hit my head?'. I had trouble breathing and luckily someone was walking by to help. I'm sore and have ice pack on it now, but I'll be grand."

Adam is sure vandals are to blame for removing the important part of the bike.

"Had I been on the road in the traffic when it come off... I could have been tatty bread," the 45-year-old added.

"I often think kids will be kids and they don't think of the consequences of what they are doing- they probably thought it was some kind of You've Been Framed moment. We were all kids at one stage."

Belfast City Council says vandalism to the scheme is costing almost £2,000 a month.

"It's a great scheme," continued Adam who says it hasn't put him off getting back on a bike, "It's good for your health and the city."

"But it's also a community scheme and if people see this type of thing going on they need to report it. Otherwise it'll end up costing us all more money."

Police are working with the council and using covert operations to catch the vandals in the act and in the past two weeks made four arrests, recovering six bikes. They have appealed for the public to help by reporting incidents to them.

"These Bikes are a great public resource for everyone to use across the city, so it’s important that we work together to prevent them from being abused and stolen," said Sergeant Pete Cunningham.

Belfast City Council said it was working on new technology to clamp down on vandalism and bike theft. It urged anyone with information or who witnesses vandalism to email belfastbikes@nsl.co.uk or contact the scheme’s social media channels.

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