West Belfast has less than 1% of all cycling infrastructure in the city, it emerged, prompting a city councilor to denounce disparities in supply in the capital of Northern Ireland.
n only 7% of all cycling infrastructure is located in North Belfast, while in the East the figure is 51% and in the South 41%.
Sinn Fein adviser Ciaran Beattie, who got the numbers, said the city’s north and west “don’t take a peek” when it comes to cycling infrastructure.
He made the comments during a discussion about expanding the Belfast Bikes program, a public bicycle rental scheme, before the City Council’s City Growth and Regeneration Committee on Wednesday evening.
“I appreciate that people want to talk about their own DEA (district electoral zones), but I’m talking about an entire part of the city, I’m taking about 15 constituencies that have virtually no cycling infrastructure,” a- he declared.
“We’re not saying other places shouldn’t have [cycle lanes], I think everywhere should have them. But the playing field must be level for everyone. In recent years there has been no investment in the West of the city in terms of cycle paths and Belfast Bikes, that is a fact. “
SDLP council group leader Donal Lyons said he was sympathetic to the situation regarding North and West Belfast, but pointed out that Conor Murphy of Sinn Fein, when he was Minister for Regional Development in 2010, reduced the city’s cycling budget by 98%. – leaving only £ 8,000 a year.
“It’s one of those bike repair stations, that’s what it looks like overall.
“It leaves nothing for cycle paths, it does not allow the extension of a higher public regime, it does not allow any provision for safety equipment and various other things,” he said.
“So we started at least a decade behind other cities. “
Mr Beattie replied: “Let’s get the facts straight. In 2016, Chris Hazzard was the DfI [Department for Infrastructure] Minister and, ahead of the Assembly meeting, he launched a consultation on Belfast Bikes and the Belfast City Cycle Network. This advice has made a corporate response to that.
“Last year a feasibility study was done for North and West Belfast, I understand it cost £ 5million and we still haven’t seen it.”
The DfI said the department did not allocate funding based on areas of the city, but Minister Nichola Mallon planned to release a report on the Belfast Cycling Network in the coming weeks, outlining proposals for a “network consistent cycling “through town.
“In 2019, given the lower level of cycling infrastructure in the north and west of the city, the department commissioned a specific feasibility study on active travel for north and west Belfast,” said DfI .
“This study was carried out by Sustrans and the results informed the development of the Belfast Cycling Network.
“The department has also completed a short but important Broadway roundabout link that ultimately connects Falls Road through Bog Meadows to Belfast city center.
“Work on developing a number of walking and cycling programs in West Belfast is ongoing, while working in partnership with other stakeholders.
“A business case for the Colin Active Travel Network is being carried out by Belfast City Council with support from the department and other agencies.”
DfI revealed that the department is also providing funding to Belfast City Council’s Forth Meadow Greenway project, which aims to connect shared civic space to the city’s west.