Supermarkets accused of putting a spoke in wheel of customers keen to cycle to the shops
Around half of Belfast's big supermarkets are doing nothing at all to support customers who cycle to the shops, according to a new survey.
Eighteen of Belfast's 40 biggest supermarkets have no cycling facilities at all, according to the NI Greenways cycling blog.
Meanwhile, there are only 98 bicycle racks outside these 40 supermarkets, around half of them provided by Tesco.
The blog surveyed all 40 of Belfast's main chain supermarkets in November and December, looking at how easy it is to visit with a bicycle. Cyclists visited the main Asda, Dunnes Stores, Iceland, Lidl, Marks and Spencer, Sainsbury's and Tesco stores across the city and ranked stores on a scoring system based on Planning Service recommended standards for bicycle parking.
The survey found that only five of the 22 cycle parking areas had direct and visible CCTV coverage and only nine had shelter, although this covered 48 of the 98 racks.
The best individual supermarket for cycling facilities was named as Tesco Newtownbreda, just beating Sainsbury's Forestside, but the area with the best overall ranking for cycling provision was north Belfast.
Sainsbury's Forestside was commended for going the extra mile, with a rent-a-lock service for cyclists who had forgotten to bring their locks.
Sixteen of the 22 parking areas were close to supermarket entrances. The blog said out of a total possible score of 280 across all supermarkets, Belfast scored 67 points, meaning Belfast supermarkets are doing less than a quarter of what is needed to provide adequate cycling facilities.
"The 40 supermarkets in Belfast play an important role in the fabric of our communities," contributor Jonathan Hobbs said.
"While it's desperately important to support our smaller independent retailers, the seven big supermarket chains can help to encourage active travel habits by taking a lead on installing better bicycle facilities."
The blog promised to return to the stores next year and aims to give a 2016 Fred Award to the Most Improved Supermarket.
Number of cycle parking areas with direct and visible CCTV cover
Number of cycle park areas with shelter from the bad weather