Series curated by Aaron Coulter
Bicycling Belfast: Prelude
In recent years there has been a renewed interest from major cities throughout the world in diversifying transportation choices in an effort to reduce dependancy on the private car and improve quality of life for their citizens. These initiatives are often characterised with a rebalancing of capital expenditure priorities in order to accommodate higher levels of spending on more sustainable forms of transport, including walking, cycling, and public transit schemes.
However, despite over a decade of policy initiatives aimed at reducing car dependency in Northern Ireland, transport budgets here are still overwhelmingly in favour of the private car. In 2010 the then Minister for Regional Development, Conor Murphy, not only dedicated 62% of the overall transport budget to the car, a total of £250,000,000, but also cut Belfast’s cycling budget by 98% to £8,000 (Belfast Telegraph). Given this, it is unsurprising that Belfast is currently rated the 3rd most congested city in the United Kingdom and ranks within the top ten most congested cities in Europe.
It is in within this context, and as part of an ongoing process of generating debate on sustainable transport in Northern Ireland through the Connecting Places series, that throughout next week a mini series titled ‘Bicycling Belfast’ will investigate the potential of increasing cycling’s modal share in the city.
Join us next week on the PLACE blog and follow the conversation with Aaron on Twitter #bicyclingbelfast