Review of the year 2013

A quick whizz through the @nigreenways highlights of the year..

January

2013 began with a bang in Belfast – remember flegs? – and NI Greenways couldn’t resist getting in on the rush hour hysteria. Amid the rumours of roads being blocked and large roving protests popping up to cause maximum traffic disruption, canny commuter cyclists still had time to observe normal city life; and this commuter caused a mini panic among office workers at 5pm on a Friday night..

13 ideas to improve Northern Ireland cycling in 2013 were suggested; judge for yourself how seriously the powers that be took them..

February

Citizen cyclists took to the streets in February to protest against the plans to allow taxis open access to Belfast’s bus lanes. The protest was covered by local media, and supported by a petition handed in to DRD Minister Danny Kennedy, played its part in halting the plan which was due to commence in September 2013. The issue will rise again in 2014 as DOE reworks its taxi legislation. In the year of the Giro d’Italia, everyday cyclists will be prepared to resist again.

And this tidy graphic from Bikefast explains why bus lanes are really bicycle lanes, yet could become taxi lanes..

BelfastBusLaneFleets

March

Continuing the campaigning start to 2013, the report on Reclaim Belfast’s Cycle Lanes 2 was released, showing once again how useless urban advisory cycle lanes are (average one vehicle blocking every 250m). Yet again DRD ignored the concerns. Following a stunning win for Best Campaign at the Fréd Awards in December, plans are afoot to complete the trilogy in early 2014!

April

Two of the year’s most popular blog posts were released simultaneously, aimed at enabling a flood of people to cycle to the North Down Coastal Path and support the local economy by building an innovative new cycle route; the Belfast to Holywood Greenway.

Amateur depiction of the Sydenham Rail Bridge

The plan had a little bit of stardust sprinkled on it with a presentation later in the year to the First Citizens of North Down and Belfast..

Mayors meet

Meanwhile a shiny new separate cycle track was being finished on Belfast’s Sydenham Road, something local drivers were very supportive of..

May

Lots of preparation for Bike Week (including guest posts from Kelly, Tony, Diarmuid, Kate and John) meant a quiet month. The Belfast Telegraph continued its scare mongering over bus lanes, while ignoring the ongoing fun on the Belfast Bin Lane..

June

Lots of fun events happened during Bike Week 2013, but a major highlight was the release of the NI Greenways blog post asking Where is our Gasworks Bridge? Just six days later Transport Minister Danny Kennedy addressed the Politically Painless Active Travel meeting in Belfast and announced a £50k feasibility study into the bridge (due by Feb 2014). Result!

Danny Kennedy announced Gasworks Bridge study

Of course, all that extra cycling traffic generated by the bridge is going to need safe routes to reach it, which means it’s time to upgrade Ravenhill into a cycling corridor..

July

More fleg fun on the Twelfth as local tweeters launched the #Kempwatch hashtag.

TV’s ‘ard man Ross Kemp landed on Belfast to stir up document the expected trouble in Ardoyne at the height of 2013’s super-flegged marching season. Never one to let a bit of banter go by..

The positive vibes from Bike Week gave way to a the realisation of cycling safety deteriorating in Northern Ireland. But there was still time for a love letter to future to suggest that the 2017 Velo-city conference should consider Belfast as their host.

August

A thoroughly amateur attempt complete the 85-mile Lap The Lough cycle event was rewarded with great success in August..

Start

More campaigning halted the worst elements of DRD’s nightmare on East Bridge Street, although the now shortened bus lane is encouraging drivers to leave it late anyway #boo

Minister Danny Kennedy did his bit to promote cycling by reclining on a table wearing full lycra kit and getting his legs shaved. I’m really not joking. If only a photographer had been present. Oh gawd..

September

Mad scenes at Stormont as Northern Ireland’s politicians were falling over themselves to ask cycling questions at an unprecedented rate. Cyclegeddon burned brightly for a little over a month, in which time MLAs asked more questions than in the whole of the previous year.

NI Greenways launched the Belfast Cycling Study Tour, a serious business which many people have mistaken for a piss-take blog post. The original tour guides Dessie and Smicks, seeing the tour bookings rolling in with over 10,000 blog views in 4 months, quit to set up a rival tour. A turf war has since broken out and Cyclesaurus is now a no-go zone.

Book now for the Belfast Cycling Study Tour!

October

More behind the scenes work (the dastardly scheming of the bike lobby) meant a quiet October – actually Daithí McKay’s work on Cyclegeddon meant NI Greenways could put its feet up for a while. With a relaxed outlook, some more great ideas were blogged about in Ten practical improvements for cycling in Belfast. They’re going nowhere fast, one suspects.

The Connswater Community Greenway development kicked into high gear with the installation of the Sam Thompson Bridge. The NI Greenways Helicopter hovered for hours the next day to get the first aerial shot of the new crossing..

Sam Thompson Bridge

November

The viral Twitter hit of the year, as the world lapped up this mildly amusing image from Lisburn..

And if you ever wanted to know how much chaos those #bloodycyclists cause on Northern Ireland’s roads, you just need to ask the PSNI..

December

An excellent end to the year as the Fréd Awards recognised those helping to create, support and promote local cycle culture (see all the winners on Twitter).

Fred Table

With Cyclesaurus winning the Worst Cycle Infrastructure award for 2013, three special mugs were commissioned in tribute. Hopefully Minister Kennedy takes his in good spirit!

mugxmas

And to bookend a great year for local cycling, the DRD NI Travel Survey showed that more people here are cycling more often and further than ever before. Slowly, but very surely, cycling is becoming a normal part of the local transport mix.

Slowly, but very surely..

Top 10 most viewed NI Greenways posts in 2013

  1. Belfast Cycling Study Tour (over 10,000 views)
  2. Belfast to Bangor Greenway: the final link
  3. Bin lane users call for action on cyclists (2012)
  4. Holywood to Bangor Coastal Path
  5. Could I Lap The Lough?
  6. Bin lane becomes Ulster Bank delivery lane
  7. Number Crunching: #BloodyCyclists
  8. Where is our Gasworks Bridge?
  9. Ravenhill cycling corridor
  10. 13 ideas to improve Northern Ireland cycling in 2013

Special mentions for the 3 most heavily researched pieces of the year – important in shaping the future direction of cycling infrastructure development:

NI Cycling Gender

Happy New Year folks, for 2014 is the Year of the Giro!

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