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‘It's only a matter of time before someone is killed’: Sinn Fein councillor urges action over west Belfast road

A councillor has warned that it is "only a matter of time" before someone is killed if action is not taken to install a pedestrian crossing at an accident black spot in west Belfast.

Sinn Fein representative Daniel Baker has been campaigning for safety measures to be put in place near a McDonald's restaurant at the McKinstry Road's City Business Park.

To highlight this issue, he posted a video at the weekend taken in the area showing a group of children running across four lanes of traffic to cross the road.

Speaking to the Belfast Telegraph, Cllr Baker said he feels there was an oversight when plans for the McDonald's were approved by Lisburn and Castlereagh City Council a number of years ago, meaning no pedestrian crossing was included next to the site.

The area is right on the boundary of Lisburn and Castlereagh and the Belfast council areas. Cllr Baker's constituency of Collin sits on this boundary.

"There are 34,000 people in the Collin area, with around 16,000 under the age of 16 - that's a huge proportion of young people, not to mention the road is on a Glider route, so it's so popular," he said.

"Having no crossing at the McDonald's is a massive danger. I thought DfI (the Department for Infrastructure) would have acted a lot sooner at what I feel is an oversight, but it just hasn't happened. I raised the issue in October last year and we're now in July and plans for a crossing are still in the design phase, no funding has been talked about, no plans are on the minister's desk yet - to me, that's extremely slow.

"The road itself has been the scene of a number of road accidents each week. The problem is on the rise because of the surrounding area becoming more populated in the last 10 or 20 years. On Saturday, there was a three-car pile up on the road, but over the last week, I can safely say there's been at least three other accidents there."

Cllr Baker said he is worried about the safety of pedestrians, but there is also a wider issue of upgrading the road itself.

"We've been trying to push kids to cross further on up the road, where there is a crossing, but even there's, it's not 100% safe as you have cars jumping lights to get across. With all the new builds in the area, it is just so much busier and footfall has been going up and up in recent years.

"I would like to see a reduction of the speed limit on the road, electric speed gauges and a crossing should have been up by now. It's only a matter of time before someone is killed.

"I completely understand that a crossing won't be a silver bullet, but it would at least provide some mitigation going forward. This needs dealt with, I'm not blaming anybody, I can understand how oversights happen, but something needs to be done and massive investment is needed."

A spokesman for DfI said: “The Department has commissioned its partner consultants to carry out a feasibility study to consider potential improvements to pedestrian facilities at the McKinstry Road roundabout. This feasibility study is currently being concluded, which will allow the Department to consider the best way forward.

“In the meantime to help improve road safety in the area while this feasibility work is being completed, the Department has also arranged for hedges to be cut back in the vicinity of the roundabout to improve sight lines. This work has commenced and should be completed within the next week.”

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