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Bridge to aid cycling access to Belfast centre 'stalled by powershare deadlock'

The creation of a "pivotal" bridge to transform cyclists' access to Belfast city centre has been stalled because of the powersharing impasse, campaigners said.

The span across the River Lagan near the Gasworks needs £7-9 million to build but no devolved government is in place to make spending decisions.

Thursday marked the anniversary of the birth of the modern bicycle in Belfast and enthusiasts want to name the link the Hume Dunlop Bridge after the earliest pioneers from the city.

The Bikefast organisation said: "It passed planning (just) last year and is effectively shovel-ready.

"It needs between £7 million to £9 million of capital to realise this transformative project for the Markets and Lower Ravenhill.

"Without a working government in Northern Ireland it remains a stalled project.

"To kickstart the delivery phase of the cycling revolution in Belfast, this pivotal bridge must be one of the first items in the new infrastructure minister's inbox."

In 1889, Willie Hume of the Belfast Cruisers Cycling Club proved the superiority of a safety bicycle fitted with pneumatic tyres developed in the city by John Boyd Dunlop.

Bikefast added: "The ubiquitous penny farthing racer became obsolete and cycling changed forever."

It noted in 2017 that everyday cycling in Belfast is waiting for a reformed executive to give the green light to a traffic-free bridge linking the city centre with the south-east of the city.

"Within a stone's throw of our city's unique and pivotal cycling history, Bikefast today calls for it to be officially named the Hume Dunlop Bridge."

At one stage it was estimated that about 1,000 people would use the pedestrian and cyclists' bridge every day across the Lagan.

The bridge would be about halfway between the Albertbridge Road and the Ormeau Road - two routes used very heavily by pedestrians and cyclists.

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