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Belfast bus lane move 'will be a disaster for our area'

By Simon Watters

Published 31/07/2015

Keith Shaw
Keith Shaw
John Macauley
Chris Smyth
Doreen McKenzie

Traders and residents on the Upper Newtownards Road are used to traffic congestion - but they fear it's about to get a whole lot worse.

Locals told the Belfast Telegraph that the planned new lanes, which will be active on a half-mile stretch between Sandown Road and Knock Road during morning and evening rush hours, will cause complete gridlock.

Keith Shaw, manager of Kirks Bakery, said: "When the schools are back it's bad enough and these new lanes will make it a disaster. We have already lost a lot of customers because of the roadworks."

Some businesses said they had attended a DRD consultation on the introduction of the bus lanes but said their feedback has seemingly been ignored.

Doreen McKenzie, Treasurer of the Ballyhackamore Business Association, said: "The problem we have is we're the main route out of Belfast.

"I don't see how the bus lanes are going to help, it's going to cause chaos.

"If it brings more tourists into the area then we're happy, but a bit of proper consultation would have gone a long way."

East Belfast resident Bob May said: "People parking on double yellow lines means there are tailbacks up to the Knock Road already and you often have to park two streets away.

"I can't see these new bus lanes being any improvement for the residents."

But not every business in the area is worried about the potential effects of the new measures.

John Macaulay, owner of the Chip Bar, said: "The traffic here is bad enough anyway, I don't think it'll affect things much."

John Kelly of Earlswood Pharmacy, said: "I have no problem encouraging people to use public transport; if you can enter and leave the bus lane freely then it makes some sense."

Chris Smyth from UPS said: "I think what they need to do is clamp anyone parked in the bus lane so they won't park there like they have done in Edinburgh. If they enforce it properly it could work."

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