Northern Ireland news

Fears proposed cycle lanes along busy north Belfast route will reduce parking by 25 per cent

Local businessman Paul Carlin and park users of the Waterworks Park in north Belfast. Picture by Hugh Russell

BUSINESS owners and a sporting organisation have hit out at proposed cycle lanes along a busy route in north Belfast amid fears it will reduce parking in the area by 25 per cent.

The construction of lanes along Cavehill Road is part of a Department for Infrastructure (DfI) initiative to "improve the cycling network across Belfast".

But traders say business will be impacted "at a time when we are only getting ourselves gathered up and back on our feet" following the coronavirus pandemic.

An organiser of the local Parkrun, held at the nearby Waterworks, also said it will have a detrimental effect on its weekly events.

Paul Carlin, who owns Carlin Hair, said: "Our problem from a business perspective is that we will lose around 25 per cent parking capacity along the road.

"It's encroaching on that capacity at a time when we are only getting ourselves gathered up and back on our feet after the past year.

"There's different businesses from hairdressers, cafes/bistros, sandwich bars and chemists - it's an area that ticks all the boxes, for a small business community it's a good example of a business community that works well together.

"To place these orange bollards right outside will ruin much of that, as well as cutting parking for those businesses.

"This is my livelihood for me and my wife, we've no other income.

"We lost a year of income, we're only getting up and running again, we don't need this on top of it."

Matt Shields, lead ambassador for Parkrun NI, said weekly Parkrun events at the Waterworks - attended by around 300 adults and children - would be impacted by the cycle lanes.

"The people who take part in the Parkruns need the parking nearby," he said.

"If Cavehill Road is blocked off, people are going to be looking for parking in side streets, but that obviously brings in the effect it will have on residents in the area with people parking in front of their homes.

"Without the on-road parking, there just wouldn't be enough parking.

"We're not against cycle lanes, we're very much for people getting more active and want a greener way of travel.

"But we feel there are more negatives than positives and these haven't been investigated properly."

A DfI spokesman said officials met with businesses and local stakeholders on "active travel plans for north Belfast and continues to work in partnership on the development of opportunities".

"The department also recently published its 10-year plan to improve the cycling network across Belfast," he said.

"Active travel has a vital part to play in all of our communities and citizens in north Belfast should also benefit from upgrades to infrastructure, including walking and cycle facilities.

"The department will continue to engage with local stakeholders to ensure people living in north Belfast have fair access to active travel infrastructure given the many benefits it bring to mental and physical health and well-being, air quality and the environment."

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