Here’s a suggestion for a powerful message to send to Belfast commuters. We’ve already seen the problems Belfast commuter cyclists face with illegal parking on cycle lanes at rush hour. Roads Service traffic wardens are not resourced to cover 100% of the city during urban clearway times, so day-to-day priorities are set, leaving many routes clogged with parked cars.
But what if, even with their current resources, ALL areas of Belfast could be covered effectively, freeing up the cycle lanes for their long-suffering users? What about also sending a strong visual message that Belfast is trying to invest in a safe quality infrastructure and wants to get more people on their bike?
What better way than to get all traffic wardens trained up on Roads Service-issued mountain bikes, allowing them to pedal the length of Belfast’s cycle lanes during rush hour? A city fully covered, with high profile champions for cycling AND cleared bike lanes? SORTED!
If more resources are needed, traffic wardens could be redeployed from the city centre. What is the strategic need for patrols here from 4.30pm onwards? Aren’t we trying to encourage people into the city for a night-time economy? Free up parking restrictions from the time of urban clearway restrictions on arterial routes, and get the wardens up the roads. I’ll throw out anecdotal evidence that city centre on-street parking has thinned considerably by 5pm. Evidence to back up this assertion is simple to collect (see: Reclaim Belfast’s Cycle Lanes), but city centre workers will know this is generally the case.
Once the data is available from Reclaim Belfast’s Cycle Lanes we’ll have a better idea of the scale of the problem. Roads Service need to fully understand the impact illegal parking is having on rush hour commuter journeys. Innovative solutions will come from those that face a daily barrier to safer roads.
** Update: 30th July 2012 ** Early data from other participants points to something interesting, if all too obvious. The video above (right hand frame) shows the Cregagh Road at 5.20pm on Wednesday 25th July, with 2 traffic wardens and just 1 car parked illegally. An earlier survey of the road that day at 16.40pm recorded 9 cars illegally parked. Presumably the traffic wardens were not yet on site at this time. This reinforces the opinion that to get our cycle lanes cleared, we need traffic wardens patrolling every route at rush hour.