Dublin Road cycleway tales – Translink

What position does Translink hold on the Dublin Road cycleway? Our information request reveals..

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With the Department for Infrastructure (DfI) reviewing the experimental Dublin Road cycleway, and expecting it to hit the headlines in various ways over the next few months, Bikefast is writing a series of short articles to cover the issues.

Today we look at one of the major stakeholders when it comes to street space in the city centre, our government-owned public transport company Translink.

The Dublin Road cycleway directly or potentially impacts upon Translink’s operation in a number of ways:

  • tightening of street space on a key southern outbound corridor for many Metro and Ulsterbus routes
  • a busy bus stop where the cycleway crosses in front, with a dissatisfactory temporary access arrangement
  • part of an indicative route for the proposed Glider connection to Belfast City Hospital and Queen’s University (by 2027)

Buses passing someone cycling on Dublin Road before the cycleway bollards were installed – what was Translink’s view of this?

We made a detailed information request on 27 August 2021 to determine if a corporate view of the lane has been formed (through available records and correspondence) since it was installed in mid-2020. The information request asked for all information held by Translink about the cycleway during the inception, implementation, operation phases (including amendments and on its future), such as:

  • internal documents and records
  • external correspondence
  • meeting documents
  • consultation responses
  • any records of conversations between staff and DfI
  • any data collected on the cycle lane (and the rationale and methodology should such data exist)

Translink’s (relatively swift) response arrived yesterday – very simple and straightforward, offering no exemptions, denials on the nature of any information held, or delay – stating that:

“We can confirm that we do not hold the information specified in your request. Translink was not involved in the implementation of the cycling infrastructure installed by the Department for Infrastructure (‘DFI’) on Belfast’s Dublin Road.”

As the response is very clear that Translink holds basically no information on the cycle lane, it’s fair to draw conclusions that Translink:

  • can have no ‘corporate’ position on the cycle lane and its future, as the organisation holds no information related to it
  • staff, at no level (from Board to Executive level to general staff), have records of discussions held, or have sent any emails, or hold internal documents etc which relate to the cycle lane
  • has never made any representations to DfI regarding the cycle lane at any phase of its planning, existence or layout amendments, eg to the bus stop
  • has not fed anything (formal, written etc) into the current DfI review of the cycle lane
  • has not collected and held any data in relation to the cycle lane
  • has not directly lobbied, either positively or negatively, on the future status of the cycle lane

In case there was even the slightest hint of misinterpretation, and giving Translink every benefit of the doubt, we’ve asked for a review of the handling of the information request. We’ll publish the outcome should anything change.

We further asked Translink for comment on the conclusions drawn in this article, and a spokesperson said:

“We would reiterate that this infrastructure lies wholly with the Department for Infrastructure and you would be best placed to contact them for information on that. In relation to the [request for review] raised earlier today, these will need to be investigated. Translink is fully committed to active and sustainable travel solutions as part of a green recovery and we will work with all stakeholders to deliver this in the years ahead.”

While it is strange that the organisation holds no information about the cycle lane (as far as we’ve been told) it’s likely that without any such discussions, meetings, correspondence, either internally or with DfI (especially to their current review) since 2020, that Translink could hardly be anything other than neutral on its future. Which would be excellent news for active travel in Belfast.

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