Northern Ireland news

Cyclists 'ride on' as popular event returns to Belfast

Eugene Hamill with a foldable bike at the end of the 'Ride on Belfast' event at city hall. Picture by Mal McCann

CYCLING enthusiasts descended on Belfast city centre yesterday as part of a campaign to encourage people to commute by bike.

The streets of the city were taken over by hundreds of cyclists as the 'Ride on Belfast' event, which is part of Bike Week, returned for the first time since the Covid-19 pandemic.

The event, which brought cyclists to Belfast City Hall, aims to encourage people to swap four wheels for two and also to promote an active lifestyle.

Celebrating its eighth year, the event was organised by Cycul Belfast and supported by Belfast City Council.

Stephen McNally from Cycul said they were "delighted to bring Ride On Belfast back again after a two-year break".

"During the pandemic, interest in cycling and active travel boomed, right across the city, and it has been great to see so many people at City Hall today," he said.

"Ride on Belfast is the one day in the year when people can experience what it's like cycling to work in Copenhagen, Amsterdam, Berlin, Paris, London and all the other great European cities, that have embraced cycling as the most effective, efficient and healthiest way of travelling in the city.

"We hope this persuades not only more people to embrace the simplicity of cycling to work, but also persuades politicians and transport planners to make this an everyday experience - not just one day in the year."

Belfast lord mayor Tina Black welcomed the cyclists and said it was "fantastic to see so many people choosing to leave the car at home and hop on their bikes to get into work".

"There are so many benefits to cycling - not just in terms of the environment and helping to create a greener city, but also in terms of physical and mental health," said the Sinn Féin represenative.

"I hope that if anyone is commuting by bike for the first time today they might consider making it a more regular habit.

"Promoting sustainable transport and getting people to think more about embracing sustainable living is one of priorities during my year in office.

"Events like Ride on Belfast are great at raising awareness and encouraging people to think about ways in which they can live more sustainably.

"Also, with the cost of living crisis, we know how expensive it is to fill up your car and while we appreciate cycling to work won't be possible for everyone, for those who can, we hope today's event gives them some food for thought, and encourages people of all ages to get on their bike."

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