Belfast Telegraph

Cyclist deaths spark action plea

Riders demand more designated lanes and tougher law enforcement

By Lesley-Anne Henry

There have been demands for drastic improvements to be made to Northern Ireland's cycling infrastructure.

The calls came after writer and keen cyclist Malachi O'Doherty paid a moving online tribute to a man killed in Belfast recently.

Clubs and cycling enthusiasts have been urging the Department for Regional Development to upgrade and increase the number of cycle lanes, particularly in the cities, and raise awareness about the increasing number of cyclists on the roads.

Steven Patterson from Sustrans, which pioneers the provision of safe routes, said: "There needs to be a complete change to the road network to make more space for cyclists. There are a lot of cycle lanes but we do not feel they are of high enough quality. They are stop-starting, have cars parked on them and road crossings.

"There is also a need for a network of traffic-free routes."

Two cyclists were killed in separate accidents in Belfast in recent months.

Michale Caulfield, who was in his 40s, was killed after being struck by a lorry at Ormeau Bridge in April. A woman in her 30s died after a collision with a lorry on the Newtownards Road in August.

SDLP MLA Conall McDevitt, who rides from his home in south Belfast to Stormont every day, said: "I have been knocked off my bike twice in the last four years.

"The first time I was hit by a jeep and the second was by a small van.

"On both occasions it was the wing mirrors of the vehicles which hit me from behind while the motorists were trying to squeeze past.

"If the DRD is are serious about getting people out of their cars then they need to get serious about making it safer for people to travel on the roads.

"The real and urgent need is for more cycling lanes - which is cheap and easy to do - and to enforce laws preventing people from parking on cycle lanes."

A spokeswoman for the DRD said it had invested £6.8m in the provision of 225km of cycle lanes during the past 10 years.

Belfast Telegraph

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