Traffic bosses' big plans may yet require a U-turn
The traffic-flow in Belfast, or the lack of it, continues to be a problem for everyone involved, including the traders, the planners, the commuters and the motorists.
The traffic jams are evident not only in the centre, but also along most of the arterial routes to and from the city. It is no wonder that a national traffic survey recently nominated Belfast as one of the most congested cities in the UK.
It is obvious that the planners need to do something about it, particularly as the measures taken not long ago to regulate traffic around the City Hall continue to cause problems.
Now phase two of the optimistically-named Belfast On The Move project is being intensified, with more bus lanes, and the result of the traffic planners' work will need to be judged in practice before any final conclusions are reached.
Nevertheless, people are entitled to ask if these measures to regulate traffic are really going to work in the long term. The motorists, traders and the plain people of Belfast and the greater city area are less than impressed by what has been taking place, and much less by value for money.
However, the traffic experts may argue it is still too early to make a definitive overall judgment, and that it may take a longer period to see the overall plan in its true perspective.
On the other hand, the ordinary people may yet be proved correct, and some of the traffic arrangements may finally prove unworkable, and will have to be changed again, or dropped entirely. Perhaps the biggest problem of all is that there is simply too much traffic squeezing into the city, but a requisite change in motoring habits would require a massive lifestyle shift in attitudes.
In the meantime the pain and inconvenience of the traffic arrangement in Belfast are still with us. There may be better days ahead, but at the moment people are rightly wondering if all these changes, and the costs involved, are really worth it.