Belfast Telegraph

Saturday 26 July 2014

Drivers and cyclists must share mutual respect

IT'S an exciting time for cycling in Belfast. Next year's Giro d'Italia Northern Ireland leg was unveiled earlier this month, 2015 will herald the introduction of a new public bike hire scheme in Belfast and Regional Development Minister Danny Kennedy recently announced that he will be establishing a dedicated cycling unit within his department.

So it was with interest that I read Lindy McDowell's article (Life, October 16), which raised concerns about the quality of Belfast's cycling infrastructure.

What can be gleaned from her piece is an overarching truth: that cyclists and motorists must learn to share the roads safely and harmoniously and that good infrastructure is one of the first steps towards achieving this.

As the old saying goes, "If you build it, they will come". Evidence shows that, if you provide safe, pleasant cycling routes, people will take to them in their droves.

With the right environment, travelling by bike can become a real option for everyday journeys. But infrastructure alone will not solve our woes.

We also need to educate drivers and cyclists so that everyone has the knowledge and skills to share the road safely.

So let's embrace the boom in cycling enthusiasm that is gripping Northern Ireland and celebrate the fantastic plans that are on the horizon.

But let's not let the cycling revolution pass us by without making sure that we use the opportunity to improve and expand our cycling infrastructure and ensure that all road-users share a culture of mutual respect.

GORDON CLARKE

Northern Ireland director, Sustrans

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