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Let's put city on the road to improvement

Published 28/09/2012

The recent and controversial introduction of bus lanes to Belfast's streets (News, September 26) is typical of the uncoordinated approach more often than not adopted by those entrusted with managing our roads and traffic.

A more holistic strategy needs to be adopted to address the issues associated with perceived over-use of the car and encouragement of the use of public transport.

Such a strategy should include the following:

  • Refuse planning permissions or cease requiring provision of large car parking facilities attached to city-centre shopping centres;
  • Cease awarding temporary planning permissions for car parking on the numerous cleared sites strewn throughout the city;
  • Create free municipal car parks at the edge of the inner city, with free shuttle buses to the centre, providing passing trade to benefit of all traders - not only those occupying major retail centres;
  • Make all bus and train fares more affordable, or free-of-charge;
  • Encourage the repopulation of Belfast by the planned creation of a more attractive urban environment and place to live. Most cities in the world have growing populations; Belfast's is depleting.

The formulation of an appropriate strategy will require joined-up action from several government departments and not just one, as in the case of the new bus lanes - a very inadequate and blunt tool in the context of the overarching need to address related wider and more complex issues.

BARRIE TODD MBE

Architect, Belfast

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