Growth of Belfast's bus lanes 'making city anti-motorist'
New bus lanes planned for Belfast are giving rise to a perception that it is an anti-motorist city, it has been warned.
Consultations have opened on introducing new lanes and extending existing ones in the east and west of the city.
When the work is complete, motorists will be barred from 62km of Belfast's road network at certain times of the day. Currently 50km of road is designated a bus lane.
The new lanes are for the Belfast Rapid Transit (BRT) scheme, due to begin next September.
The Department for Infrastructure said the BRT lanes would give the "glider" buses the "necessary level of priority to allow services to operate reliably at high frequency throughout the day".
The proposed legislation was put together following an informal consultation process with residents, businesses and elected representatives.
South Belfast MLA Christopher Stalford said it was indicative of an "anti-motorist" approach. He added: "This overarching theme of making motorists suffer is misguided.
"The work on expanding the lanes around the city must have minimal impact on the people using the roads. In other parts where the Department for Infrastructure is carrying out work, traffic is wretched. It is important they learn from that and don't add to traffic when it can be avoided."
Mr Stalford said improvements to public transport and residential parking schemes were needed to encourage people on to buses and trains, adding: "There are those people that need to use the car and for those who have the choice they should be encouraged onto public transport. The ultimate approach of all this work is almost anti-motorist. While they need to work on getting more people onto the bus, that should not be to the detriment at those that use cars.
Sustrans, which encourages people to adopt sustainable modes of transport, welcomed the consultation.