More must be done to make Belfast a better place to drive as money seems to take precedence over safety
letter of the day: city roads
I am so pleased to see the Belfast Telegraph highlighting the problems with driving in our city centre.
This year, I visited Saint-Nazaire in France, a city which was heavily bombed during the Second World War. Now totally rebuilt, the traffic system reflects modernity, with trams, car, bus and bike lanes, plus wide footpaths all mapped out on a grid system. People had choices. While public transport was clearly effective, cars were also catered for.
I know Belfast does not have the luxury of starting from a blank canvas. However, that is no excuse for actually making Belfast city centre a more dangerous place to drive.
Clearly, there is no joined-up thinking between the traffic-calming and the traffic safety people. In their lust for easy cash, the planners have actually increased the risk of accidents.
I have driven in many cities, including Los Angeles, but I have to say trying to dodge the bus lanes around Belfast is quite something, especially cutting across a narrow gap to access Adelaide Street from May Street.
While it is convenient for Belfast residents to take buses into the city centre, the planners should remember that, on many commutes, people must cross the city centre. Drivers should not be frustrated and punished in order to facilitate public transport.
Driving in fear of making a mistake is not an effective solution. Fear increases tension and tension increases the risk of accidents.
Our shops suffered badly during the Troubles and now they have new challenges - online shopping and bus lanes. Even the main train station has decided to join in with no easy access for car pick-up, or set-down.
In an era where city centres want people into their high streets, Belfast seems intent on keeping them out. Free parking on Sunday is popular, but the army of redcoats are super-vigilant.
We say we want visitors, but it feels more like Belfast: The Forbidden City instead of Belfast, the capital city.