Belfast Telegraph

Cycle of despair trying to pedal the streets of Belfast

By Malachi O’Doherty

A new report has revealed that most cyclists do not feel safe on the road.

Anybody who has ever tried to negotiate the madness of cycle lanes in Belfast would most likely agree.

It is true that in recent years there has been a rapid expansion in cycle lanes and green boxes at traffic lights to provide safe space for cyclists.

This indicates that the Government is willing to spend money to get us all on bikes. So why are they getting it so wrong?

One of the most important things for cycling is road surface. Nothing improves the pleasure and ease of cycling like level, even tarmac. Our roads are lumpy and broken.

The planning of cycle lanes is eccentric and dangerous. In many cases the cycle lane is just a sectioned-off part of the footpath, but no-one seems to have told pedestrians they belong on the other side of the white line.

As for the green boxes which are reserved for us cyclists at the head of the queue at the traffic lights, many motorists just drive straight into them.

The last thing they want is a bicycle slowing them down.

And where a cycle lane crosses the end of a street or, for instance, the exit from Park Road recycling centre, many drivers simply don't see it and then force cyclists to brake sharply or swerve to avoid them.

The answer, says Brake, includes a 20mph speed limit.

In truth, some cyclists would groan at that because they like to go faster. But it would save lives.

And a start would be a public information campaign to explain that cyclists have rights and that there are going to be even more of us on roads and footpaths in the years to come.

Malachi O’Doherty’s new book On My Own Two Wheels, is published this month by The Blackstaff Press

Background

Road safety charity Brake has released a report which states that two in three commuters (66%) said most roads were unfit for cycling.

The survey of 1,550 commuters revealed many would be persuaded to cycle if roads were safer.

A third (35%) said they would switch to cycling their commute if the route was less dangerous.

A huge 46% would be persuaded to make other local journeys by bike given safer roads. Nearly half said they cycle on roads already (47%), but two -thirds of these (64%) only do so occasionally. Only one in 10 use their bike as their main form of transport to commute.

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