Belfast Telegraph

Belfast city centre congestion is going to hell on a rickshaw

By Lindy McDowell

Driving into Belfast city centre the other evening I spotted a sight to chill the heart of any motorist. A rickshaw. A rickshaw! As if we don't have enough to deal with here. This is all Belfast's congestion needs. The arrival of the three-wheeled passenger cycle to add to daily commuter misery.

In fairness, this thing – it looked like some sort of promotional prop – was being powered along the pavement. The rickshaw was moving more freely, in fact, than surrounding vehicles.

Caught in sluggish traffic, it was a dispiriting sight watching a transportation option more commonly associated with the Third World scorch past.

We've spent millions and millions on re-jigging the road system in Belfast city centre. But has it really helped the flow of traffic?

We have endless 'lanes' in Belfast. How long though before planners spot the rickshaw and decide it, too, needs one?

Not many of these lanes are actually going anywhere.

They are just bits and pieces of coloured tarmac laid down, it would appear, more as gesture than genuine, practical help to the vehicle whose path they are intended to speed.

This rickshaw I spotted was being pedalled along just up from that corner at the bottom of Cromac Street where the marked cycle lane on the roadway suddenly, inexplicably, just disappears into the ether.

This is not the only place where that happens.

If a cyclist knows the road, they know what to expect.

If they don't, it must be a heart-stopping moment as they suddenly have to work out what am I supposed to do here? Ditto many bus lanes which splutter along in fits and starts.

And even the ones that run for a bit. How efficient are they really?

A friend described to me a hellish bus journey the other evening during a not particularly rushed rush-hour.

It took well over an hour to cover the four-mile route. The rickshaw could have done it in half the time.

Bus lanes work in theory. In practice, they're rarely such plain sailing.

There are sometimes obstacles to get around. A badly parked delivery van. Cyclists.

Some people think I have it in for cyclists. I really don't.

They have as much right to the road as the rest of us.

My only issue is with those members of the two-wheeled community who outsource responsibility for their own safety to other road users.

The problem for a bus with an obstacle in the bus lane is that other drivers tend not to be too generous when it comes to allowing them out.

It's a bit like Arsene Wenger trying to get around Mourinho. You're not getting past me, ye boy ye. We have a traffic management strategy which I honestly do not believe serves anyone well, public transport users, cyclists and motorists alike.

Maybe the rapid transit system currently being worked on will change all that. But chugging along the other day watching that rickshaw fairly zip past, I got the feeling that any "progress" on our roads seems to be of a backwards kind.

Belfast city centre congestion – it's going to hell on a rickshaw.

Dunlop film was an emotional ride

I'm sure there were many viewers like me fighting with the tears watching Doubleband's brilliant film Road on BBC1 the other evening.

The story of the Dunlop brothers, Joey and Robert, and Robert's sons, Michael and William, it was awful tragedy mixed with great triumph.

A moving insight into the minds of those magnificent, heroic riders imbued with the romance of road racing. It brings back to mind how very deeply Joey and Robert were loved by all of us. Author Stephen Davidson's story about Joey spending the last night of his life not in the plush hotel suite reserved for him, but stretched out over the front seats of his van summed it all up.

Men with no pretensions, or lust for money. Just eternally in love with their sport. And eternally remembered by us all.

Now we know how to treat our cats...

I don't have a cat, but I do have sympathy with anyone who does keep one as a pet.

For some reason the research studies seem to have gone into overdrive of late with tips on good cat management.

First, the warning that in an urban setting you should only keep one.

Cats are apparently unnerved by coming across large numbers of their fellows when they're out of an evening.

Another study suggests you shouldn't stroke them.

Seemingly, it stresses the wee things.

Also, they are more comfortable watching down on the world from a height.

So there you have it.

Keep them in solitary, don't show affection and put their basket on top of the wardrobe. And they say it's a dog's life?

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