Cyclist in lucky escape after wheel falls off his vandalised Belfast Bike
A Belfast Bike user said he was fortunate to avoid 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 centre when the bike fell apart 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."
Mr Turkington went over the handlebars and hit 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 all right? Have I hit my head?' I had trouble breathing and luckily someone was walking by to help. I'm sore and have an ice pack on it now, but I'll be grand."
He is sure vandals are to blame for removing an 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 bicycles is costing almost £2,000 a month.
"It's a great scheme," added Mr Turkington, who said it hadn't put him off getting back on a Belfast 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 and recovered 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 of the PSNI.