Belfast Telegraph

Poll: Should Belfast get 80 miles of new bike lanes?

By Allan Preston

Cyclists and other road users in Belfast can now have their say on plans to create new bicycle lanes across the city.

A draft plan for the Belfast Bicycle Network suggests the creation of about 80 miles (130km) of "convenient, comfortable, continuous and coherent routes for the city". The scheme aims to put two thirds of Belfast City Council residents within 400 metres of a quality bicycle route.

Yesterday, the Infrastructure Minister Chris Hazzard launched the public consultation.

"A walk through Belfast city centre at any time of the day is a clear indicator that people want to travel more actively and, literally, get on their bikes," he said.

"I want to see that enthusiasm for cycling developed further throughout the city so that everyone will have the freedom and confidence to use the bicycle for everyday journeys."

He continued: "One of my key priorities outlined in the Programme for Government is to help transform how we travel by increasing the number of people walking, cycling and using public transport. Active travel and public transport help to civilise our villages, towns and cities and enhance the region as a place where people want to live and work, to visit and invest.

"The implementation of a bicycle network is an important step in delivering that in Belfast."

Mr Hazzard said he hoped similar schemes could work in other towns and urban areas.

"This will complement my plans for greenways across the north, and help to deliver a comprehensive network for the bicycle," he added.

Gordon Clarke, director of the charity Sustrans, which aims to help more people here travel by bike, on foot and by public transport, welcomed the plan.

He said a Sustrans report in October 2015 found seven million bicycle journeys were made in Belfast every year, highlighting that "the people of this city want more to be spent on bicycle infrastructure and that they believe that traffic-free routes and protected cycle infrastructure is how you increase cycling.

"This Belfast Bicycle Network is an important first step in delivering that objective."

Last week Belfast City Council voted against plans to cut free time on the Belfast Bike hire scheme from 30 minutes to 15 minutes. Alliance councillor Michael Long said the proposed savings of £15,000 weren't enough to justify the change in charges.

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