Quick response template for the Belfast Bicycle Network Plan

The Draft Belfast Bicycle Network Plan consultation closes on Thursday 13th April 2017. Bikefast has been analysing, responding and objecting to elements of the plan in fine detail.

Not everyone has the time to do this. (Neither do we, to be honest, but hey ho.) So if you want to get involved and support the points which Bikefast has been raising, we’ve made it easy for you.

You can copy and paste as much or as little of the message below, and add your own opinons and suggestions, before emailing it to the Department for Infrastructure Cycling Unit at the following address:

cycling.unit@infrastructure-ni.gov.uk


Dear Cycling Unit,

I support the Draft Belfast Bicycle Network Plan however I would like to see changes to the document in line with the objections and analysis by Bikefast.

Getting people onto bicycles and out of cars in large numbers is one of the most important ways to tackle congestion, improve healthy and make Belfast a great city to live in. The draft plan goes some of the way to matching this vision but falls just short.

Specific elements which need further work in discussion with stakeholders such as Bikefast, Sustrans, Cyclist.ie and Cycling UK include:

Overall objective
I agree that a simplified objective best suits the vision for everyday cycling in Belfast:
To develop a comprehensive, high-quality, safe and dense bicycle network for everyone in Belfast to use and enjoy.

Arterial routes
The plan needs to be revised to ensure high quality cycling provision goes along the streets where people travel and congregate in our city. I will pledge to support your efforts to plan and implement arterial cycleways. I want to be supported to cycle everywhere in the city, not pushed away from the important neighbourhood streets where vehicles currently travel in the highest concentrations.

Methodology
Belfast needs to adopt a Sustainable Safety-style method to determine the usage and priorities in Belfast’s street network. This needs to be based on the acceptance that people will cycle and walk everywhere and that situation-appropriate infrastructural or vehicle constraint measures should be the fundamental framework for the city. Arbitrary lines on a map guessing or dictating where people should cycle or not cycle is not a good approach. The ‘Secondary network’ also cannot wait for up to 10 years to be addressed.

Timescale
The plan can be delivered faster than the 10 year and 25 year stages you have outlined. Seville built a similar network in just 2 years. We need to solve Belfast’s congestion now and a fully funded capital works programme should commence immediately with the main bulk of the network rolled out within the next Assembly term, with a review before pushing on with more.

Circulation
The inner ring should be a two-way cycleway along the current ‘vehicle’ inner ring, with another ring route immediately outside this to reflect the travel needs of the dense inner core of the city. The middle ring should be based on dedicated and separated cycleways, which support greenways, not flood them with too many users. Vehicles should be actively discouraged from using the middle ring as a fast way around the city, pushed instead to the outer ring. The outer ring proposal works well for Belfast.

Isolation
The Department should back up the Bicycle Strategy with an over-arching plan (be it the 3-five-10 strategy or a specific Belfast Congestion Plan) to make cycling measures a strategic priority to make Belfast work for people, not cars. The Cycling Unit is sticking its neck out and without appropriate clout will be left to wage inch-by-inch battles for space and route priority with opposed interests. The Bicycle Strategy cannot live in isolation of other transport forms, and cannot always be in a submissive position to vehicles.

City Centre
The city centre approaches are not satisfactory – two main strategic cycle routes should be placed on each point of the compass around the City Hall:

  • East – Queens Bridges and Albert Bridge
  • North – Royal Avenue / York Street and the route to the Docks
  • South – Dublin Road / Gt Victoria Street and the Lagan corridor
  • West – Grosvenor Road and Peter’s Hill / Shankill Road

The two spinal streets in front and behind the City Hall (May St / Howard St and Wellington Pl / Chichester St) need the highest profile cycle routes in the city, with both streets laid out in a 3 lane pattern (bus lane, vehicle lane, cycleway) along their length.

Gasworks Bridge
I support the immediate green light of capital investment to create this critical link in the proposed Belfast Bicycle Network.

Taxis in bus lanes
Bus lanes are not cycling infrastructure and should not form a part of the future bicycle network in Belfast. However, until this plan delivers high quality cycling routes along arterial routes where cycling users currently travel in relative safety and comfort, bus lanes must not be flooded with taxis.

Best wishes.

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