Medics battled in vain to save crash cyclist
Medical staff on their way to work at the Ulster Hospital in Dundonald tried desperately to save the life of a female cyclist involved in a collision with a lorry during yesterday's rush hour.
However the woman, believed to be a foreign national in her 30s, later died at the hospital from horrific head injuries.
Police have appealed for witnesses to the crash on the Upper Newtownards Road close to the junction with North Road at around 7.45am.
It was the second death of a cyclist in Ulster in just 24 hours.
A 23-year-old man was knocked off his bicycle in a hit-and-run in Co Monaghan just after 10.15pm on Tuesday night.
The woman's death is also the second cyclist fatality this summer in Belfast. Both were collisions with a lorry.
Local Ulster Unionist councillor Jim Rodgers visited the scene of the crash.
"I am shocked and stunned by this death," he said.
"Emergency services staff were visibly moved by what happened.
"We know cycling can be dangerous on our busy roads. There is so much traffic it is important that all road users, whether in a car or lorry, a pedestrian or cyclist, we all need to exercise more care."
SDLP Assembly Member Conall McDevitt, who is a keen cyclist, said the fatality highlighted how dangerous cycling can be.
"It highlights the need to make our roads safer for all road users and highlights the need for the Executive to give better provision for cyclists," he said.
"It remains a fact that the previous Minister for Regional Development cut the cycling budget by 98% to a derisory £5,000."
A spokesman for the Department for Regional Development defended its budget: "Last year, as a result of in-year adjustment, the budget increased to £91,000 for cycling measures in the Greater Belfast Area. The allocation for this financial year is £340,000."
Earlier this year the Assembly approved the Cyclists (Protective Headgear) Bill which would make wearing a helmet while cycling compulsory.
But there has been a strong campaign against it by cycling organisations.
If introduced, the Bill would mean a £50 fine for any cyclist caught without a helmet.
Groups such as the Cyclists' Touring Club and the sustainable transport charity Sustrans argue that the Executive should focus on other safety solutions.
Steven Patterson, Sustrans' Northern Ireland director, said three issues could be addressed instead to improve safety.
- Driver behaviour: "Road users need to give cyclists enough room when they overtake."
- Cyclist road training: "We would like to see every child at school undergo cycle training."
- Infrastructure: "We are very concerned about the deterioration of the roads surface over the past five years which has made cycling very hazardous."
Road deaths 2011:
- Two cyclists killed in Northern Ireland.
- Four motorcyclists and one pillion passenger have lost their lives.
- 22 car fatalities - 15 drivers and seven passengers killed.
- No cyclists died on the roads in either 2009 or 2010
- In 2011 the Roads Service aims to invest £490,000 in measures to improve cycling safety.