Belfast Telegraph

Saturday 30 August 2014

Time to get facts straight on cost of cycle paths

Your correspondent James O'Brien (Write Back, May 3) speculates that the cycling infrastructure in Belfast has been provided at "huge expense" to the Department of Regional Development Roads Service.

If Mr O'Brien would like factual figures, the National Cycle Network within Belfast cost £10m - much of it aided by National Lottery grant funding. By way of comparison, the upgrading of the A2, A5 and A8 roads will cost Northern Ireland £492m.

Furthermore, James O'Brien adds that cyclists do not pay "road tax". Well, neither do drivers: road tax was abolished in 1937.

Instead, Vehicle Excise Duty is paid on motor vehicle emissions, of which 109 low-emission car-types register in the £0 ('Band A') level, along with disabled drivers and emergency vehicles. Cyclists have already paid for the roads through general taxation.

The cost of painting white lines on already-built roads for cycle lanes costs around the same as painting white lines on (very expensive) newly-built roads for car lanes. On many roads in Belfast, these cycle lanes are used as free car-parking and, therefore, are unusable for cycling. No wonder potential cyclists are put off. Finally, there is no ambiguity around cyclists using footpaths: cycling on footpaths is illegal.

For someone who condemns cyclists expecting other road users to behave in a certain manner, Mr O'Brien seems to have a lot of expectations of his own.

BOB HARPER

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