Belfast’s new cycleway launched (video)

The new Alfred Street – Upper Arthur Street cycleway in Belfast has been officially launched by Transport Minister Michelle McIlveen.

The cycleway provides a protected route from the traffic-free Laganside route all the way to the pedestrianised city centre shopping area around Cornmarket.

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The bollard-protected cycle lane is the first of three route sections being constructed in the south and west of Belfast city centre this spring.

Many users have been impressed by the surface quality and the high-profile nature of the scheme.

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A further two sections are due to be built later this year linking the city centre with Titanic Quarter railway station to the east.

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The schemes are devised by Northern Ireland’s Cycling Unit, working in Transport NI under the Department for Regional Development.

The Cycling Unit are conducting a series of experiments on this pilot lane around bollard spacing, cycle lane ‘gateway’ treatments at junctions and dedicated signal-controlled bicycle crossings.

Many people have noted issues with vehicle incursions, cargo bike accessibility and junction safety – please provide feedback directly to the Cycling Unit who are monitoring problems and will change the layout as required.

This scheme marks the start of bicycle-based transport planning in Belfast, with a city-wide network plan due to be published by the Cycling Unit this summer.

It also marks the final obliteration of Belfast’s wonderfully rich heritage of idiosyncratic cycling space, replacing the iconic Bin Lane and the beloved Cyclesaurus. We will never see their like again. Hopefully..

Thanks once more to karmaDinosaur Media for the excellent video report.

Belfast trashes the Bin Lane

Belfast’s world-famous Bin Lane has been consigned to the trash bin of history as cycling route development continues in the city.

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The kerb-separated contra-flow cycle track on Upper Arthur Street, just yards from Belfast City Hall, rose to prominence as one of the better cycling facilities in Northern Ireland cruelly blighted by local bins owners and operators.

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Broken kerbs signal the end of the Bin Lane as we know it

A ham-fisted campaign of satire and sub-par photography eventually seemed to shame the bins off the cycle track. Alas, nature abhors a vacuum and with the bins gone the space was claimed by every delivery driver in the country.

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Ripping up the kerb separation – a calculated gamble to improve cycling

So the campaign moved on to tackling the Delivering the Goods menace, keeping the campaigning at street-level. Delivery drivers were unaware that this was just a ruse to distract from the real lobbying going on within the corridors of power.

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This scheme was the very first announced under the new Bicycle Strategy for Northern Ireland, and its location was a sign of intent. Where things haven’t worked, we’ll do it better. Where upgrading facilities can drive cycling uptake, we’ll invest there. Where delivery drivers are routinely and dangerously blocking the way, we’ll design you out.

So the kerb separation will be replaced by bollards (this time to the side of the cycle track not ON the cycle track) with prioritised junctions either side and probably the most controversial aspect of the whole scheme yet.

Bin_Lane_Gone_1Parking bays closed during works (cleverly not mentioning the ‘closed forever’ bit)

The reworked street will see all of the current on-street parking removed to make way for loading bays and blue badge spaces. All complaints about this aspect of the war on the motorist should be directed to the 472-space multi-storey car park from where the high angle photograph above was taken.

They even ripped out this daft thing..

So things are moving quickly, and the new separation bollards could be installed along the whole stretch from Ormeau Avenue through to May Street and here along the Bin Lane as early as next week.