Belfast’s commuter cyclists must fight for the right to use our cycle lanes! Join a unique volunteer effort in July 2012 to document and record illegal cycle lane blocking in Belfast, and let’s reclaim our cycle lanes!
Northern Ireland Greenways has teamed up with Centre of Excellence for Public Health, Queen’s University Belfast to help conduct this action research audit.
Continue reading “Reclaim Belfast's cycle lanes!”
In May I posted a video on YouTube of the Castlereagh Road ‘Cycle Lane’. Cycling daily on this route home, I can count on one hand the number of evenings where I’ve had a clear run at the full length of the new cycle lane, which has been in operation since last year.
A lively response to the video included an invitation from the Ulster Unionist Party to put the concerns directly in writing to the Regional Development Minister Danny Kennedy. Below you can read my letter, and the response received from the Roads Service Chief Executive Geoff Allister.
Continue reading “Belfast's redundant cycle lanes”
During the recent hot spell in May, I launched a mighty Twitter rant about the dearth of cycle commuters in Belfast. I was fairly challenged on a number of assertions about Belfast’s population and commuter flows. Having subsequently had a little time to look over available data, there are some clear conclusions to be drawn about the possibilities of modal shift in Belfast – getting punters to give up car travel in favour of the humble bike.
Continue reading “Belfast: a city with untapped cycle potential”
Leisure and tourism in County Tyrone could be boosted by reopening a former railway line as a cycling and walking route. The Great Northern Railway branch line ran from Cookstown, through Coalisland and into Dungannon. Built in 1879, fully enclosing the Lough Neagh basin with railway lines, this branch was closed in 1959. Creating a new Greenway for walkers and cyclists, local ramblers and active tourists, can create new economic possibilities and health benefits in the region.
Continue reading “Cookstown to Dungannon Greenway”
The towns of Cookstown, Moneymore and Magherafelt were once linked by a railway that now lies derelict. The old line, which winds through the Mid Ulster countryside, could be regenerated to provide a high quality 11 mile walking path and cycle route. This could be an important part of an orbital pathway around Lough Neagh, and a key tourist route west of the Bann.
Continue reading “Cookstown to Magherafelt Greenway”
Nestled between the River Bann and the Sperrins, a disused railway line snakes between the towns of Magherafelt, Maghera, Kilrea and Garvagh. The line was built and operated as the Derry Central line, which fully closed in 1959. The route is still visible today, and presents an opportunity for regeneration. A new cycling and walking path, or Greenway, could be opened on the former trackbed, providing a healthy infrastructure for the Mid Ulster area and a boost to tourism.
Magherafelt, Draperstown and Desertmartin are linked by the former Draperstown Railway, which shut in 1950. Local communities could benefit from regenerating this route and creating a new Greenway to allow walking and cycling into the County Tyrone countryside. This Greenway proposal is part of a wider network over 600 miles across Northern Ireland which, if realised, could bring activity tourism spend to the Draperstown area.
I wrote to the Countryside Access and Activities Network (CAAN) to highlight this blog. They are currently seeking responses to 9 Issue Papers which will feed into the development of a Northern Ireland Outdoor Recreation Action Plan 2012-21. I received a very encouraging response, and I would urge anyone with an interest to contribute to the debate. The issue papers can be viewed on the Outdoor Recreation Northern Ireland website.
Continue reading “NI Outdoor Recreation Action Plan”
Potential exists to construct a Greenway from Toome to Magherafelt, on the disused trackbed of the former Belfast and Northern Counties Railway. This important link in an orbital traffic-free path around Lough Neagh could bring valuable tourist spend to Toome, Castledawson and Magherafelt.
The proposed Greenway route begins by linking with another suggested Greenway tracing Lough Neagh to Randalstown. Holding a straight line for the 4 miles to Castledawson, the route has remained mostly undisturbed as seen from satellite imagery. Occasional agricultural land development and industrial buildings encroach onto the former line, but slight alterations and landowner negotiations could resolve these issues.
A new Greenway connecting Randalstown and Toome is a project which could bring health and leisure benefits to the local population, and be a key tourist link on the north shore of Lough Neagh.
This was the route which first interested me in the former railway lines in Northern Ireland. The railway viaduct dominates the eastern approach to Randalstown, which in recent years had been redeveloped to provide a scenic walkway. This was a link across the River Maine for the Belfast and Northern Counties railway line stretching from Antrim, through Randalstown to Toome and onwards to Magherafelt. I traced the route on Google Maps and began to think of this entire proposal.
Continue reading “Randalstown to Toome Greenway”