Belfast Telegraph

City council and Stormont pass buck over overgrown 'death trap' cycle path

By Claire McNeilly

A section of a popular cycle path that runs along the edge of Belfast Lough has become a potential death trap because no-one will take responsibility for it.

The National Cycle Network (NCN) Route 93 is jointly maintained by Belfast and Antrim and Newtownabbey councils, except for one section for which the Department of Infrastructure is responsible.

This 'no man's land' has subsequently become overgrown with trees, shrubbery and weeds - and one cyclist has already sustained a serious eye injury, requiring hospital treatment.

The Belfast Telegraph understands that a number of individual complaints have already been made to the department about this particular area because the problem has been ongoing for months.

One cyclist who contacted this newspaper described the overgrowth as "an accident just waiting to happen to someone".

"There's a part of the local cycle path which quite simply isn't being maintained or looked after at all," he added.

"When you reach it you're almost assaulted by protruding shrubbery and bushes, which makes it almost impossible for people riding bikes to pass, never mind in each direction."

The Department for Infrastructure said it had not been maintaining the stretch and had no intention to do so.

But Belfast High Sheriff Jim Rodgers said that taking action to tidy up the overgrown section was now a matter of urgency.

"Last week a man got hit in the eye when he was cycling along this part of the path, after which he had to be treated in hospital," he added."This is a prime example of a health and safety issue which must be addressed immediately before anyone else gets hurt.

"The Department for Infrastructure is aware of the issues surrounding this part of NCN Route 93 and it's time that something was done about it. What do they intend to do - wait until someone loses their life before they take any action?"

A spokeswoman for Sustrans NI, the walking and cycling charity, said the organisation was hoping for a speedy resolution to the problem before someone else was injured.

"We are very saddened to learn that someone has been injured on NCN Route 93, which runs along Belfast Lough," she added. "This is a very popular walking and cycling route between Belfast and Jordanstown which is used by commuters as well as for leisure.

"The route was built in 1998 and until earlier this year had been well maintained. We have raised with various authorities the fact that a section of the route is very overgrown.

"We understand that the Department for Infrastructure own this section and we hope they can resolve the situation."

In a statement, the Department for Infrastructure said: "The section in question is not on any of our maintenance schedules for inspection and therefore is not currently maintained by Belfast North Section Office.

"Belfast North Section Office has not maintained this stretch since the cycleway was constructed.

"It would appear that the stretch in question was maintained by another body, probably Belfast City Council, since the introduction of the cycle path.

"To my knowledge, whoever was carrying out the maintenance did not carry out discussions with Belfast North Section Office to inform us that there would be a stretch that would no longer be maintained."

A spokeswoman for Belfast City Council said that she could comment because the section of land did not belong to the council and there were no plans to assume responsibility for it.

Belfast Telegraph


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