Lagan Towpath: Cyclists at risk from disruption, says charity
- By James Kelly
- BBC NewsNI
Cyclists in Belfast are at risk following the closure of part of the Lagan towpath, a charity has said.
The towpath is closed between River Terrace and Albert Bridge to allow for the construction of flood defenses.
Sustrans said the diversion route does not have adequate bicycle infrastructure.
The Office for Infrastructure (DfI) announced that the work was essential and that the diversion was on the nearest cycle path.
The diverted route takes people along Ormeau Embankment before turning onto Ravenhill Road and over the Albert Bridge towards the city centre.
A Sustrans spokesman said: “The detour put in place, particularly for cycling from East Belfast via the Lower Ravenhill Road and Lagan Embankment, is not safe.
“Along this very busy road, which is often filled with parked cars, there is an ‘advice’ cycle path or painted line.”
The charity that encourages walking and cycling has called on the DfI to provide safer cycling infrastructure along the diversion route.
End of Twitter content, 1
The total length of the towpath is 11 miles, linking Belfast to Sprucefield near Lisburn.
The department said the Belfast Tidal Flood Reduction Scheme, which involves building more than five miles of flood defenses, will protect at least 1,500 homes.
It added it hopes to finish the section between River Terrace and the Allstate office early in late April or early May. The section between Allstate and Albert Bridge is expected to be completed by August.
“Maybe I’ll drive again”
Cyclist Liam McComish told BBC News NI the closure of the towpath is prompting him to commute by car.
“I bought an e-bike over a bike to work last year and it was fantastic,” he said.
The university lecturer said his commute from his home near Forestside in south Belfast is largely separated from car traffic when the towpath is open.
Mr McComish said: “It’s bad for me as a cyclist and it has increased the risk of my commuting.
“I’ve thought twice about whether it’s safe to ride a bike and I might go back to driving more because I feel really vulnerable.”
A DfI spokesman said: “The diversion route via Ormeau Embankment/Ravenhill Road is the closest alternative designated cycle route. This route is signposted for pedestrians and cyclists.
“The existing cycling infrastructure on Ravenhill Road is an advisory cycle lane and therefore enforcement of parking is not permitted by law,” it added.
The Belfast City Marathon will be able to use the towpath as part of its route on April 30 as planned after talks with the contractors, the spokesperson added.