February 11, 2022 5 min read
To kick off our 2022 See.Sense Report series we’re staying close to home and looking at the capital of Northern Ireland, Belfast. The analysis undertaken for this series is based on data from the See.Sense Report feature, which enables cyclists to report the location of any issues they encounter during their ride through the See.Sense app. By using the ride survey feature on the app, users can report close passes, collisions, potholes, obstructions and other issues by dropping a pin on the map.
In this report we will be examining some of the areas that have been identified through dropped pins as particularly problematic, as well as highlighting the areas that users have identified as needing infrastructure improvements. As you can see in the graph below, the most common issue reported in the city is close passes. This is where a passing vehicle fails to leave a safe enough distance between itself and a cyclist, which is widely considered to be a minimum of 1.5 metres.
Close pass issues have been identified in the heart of Belfast at Donegall Square East, adjacent to City Hall, with two pins dropped here reporting close passes. This area is heavily populated with buses, as several bus stops are located along the road. No cycling infrastructure is present along this section of road, so these close pass incidents are unfortunately unsurprising. Given the area’s high traffic density, and its location in the centre of Belfast, it is evident that segregated cycle infrastructure would be beneficial here.
A pin was also dropped for a close pass on Ravenhill Avenue. The road has a single yellow line on one side and parked cars along the other, making it relatively narrow and resulting in cars failing to leave enough space when passing cyclists.
Two different users have dropped pins reporting close passes on the Castlereagh Road junction with Ladas Drive and Grand Parade. Although Grand Parade has a cycle lane, there are often cars parked in it, forcing cyclists out into the road and leading to close pass incidents.
The pop-up segregated cycle lane on the Dublin Road provides easier access to the city centre for cyclists from South Belfast, and it has recently been agreed that the cycle infrastructure will be maintained on the road. However, pins have been dropped along this road as users have reported glass frequently being present in the cycle lane due to the close proximity of several pubs and bars.
A dropped pin in the city centre around Linenhall Street and Adelaide street has reported obstructions in this area. This area can witness quite high volumes of deliveries and drop-offs with several businesses and restaurants located on these streets, which in addition to occasional roadworks can cause obstructions here.
The See.Sense app also allows for users to submit infrastructure improvement requests in locations that they feel it is most required. Requests can be made for a range of infrastructure improvements, including widening roads, adding separation from motor traffic, creating additional cycle parking, changing traffic light timings, slowing down traffic, and other measures that users feel would be effective in keeping cyclists safe. The most popular infrastructure request that is reported in Belfast is for the separation of cyclists from traffic.
It has been suggested that separation be implemented along the A55. A user has noted that drivers are often not adhering to the 40mph speed limit, and consequently are not seeing cyclists early enough. As a result, vehicles frequently pass too close to cyclists on the road.
Another request for separation further along the A2 has also been submitted. The cycle lane currently present is insufficient as it is not only extremely narrow, but also fails to provide any additional safety measures to protect cyclists from this 50mph road. Having a more distinct separation would be beneficial, increasing cyclist safety and reducing the risk of collisions.
It was reported that separation would be beneficial in this area, as the reporting individual was almost hit by a vehicle on the section of road where the lane splits into two. It was also mentioned that prior to the roundabout, cyclists frequently have to move in and out from the inside of the road as cars are often parked along the path.
Separation has also been suggested for the Ravenhill Road. Although the road does have a cycle lane, cars frequently park in the lane, which results in cyclists having to move in and out from the road. This not only puts the cyclist at risk but also other motorists as they veer to avoid the parked vehicles.
Separation has been requested for the Malone road area approaching Shaw’s Bridge. A user has indicated that the path currently being used for cyclists is shared between both pedestrians and cyclists. This shared path is relatively narrow and causes issues, with cyclists having to travel slowly along the path to ensure no collisions occur. Additionally, issues have been highlighted with the hedges not being regularly cut, therefore making the path even narrower at points.
As previously featured in our Top 10 Coffee Stops blog, General Merchants is a popular coffee shop for cyclists. However, there has been a request to add additional cycle parking to the coffee shop which would make it more accessible.
An individual has requested that there be parking for bikes put in place at Mount Merrion Avenue. This could be particularly beneficial as the Kingspan Stadium is located nearby, so additional cycle parking would make attending Ulster rugby games much easier for those travelling by bike. As well as this, it would also be beneficial for the local community to have an area to park bikes whilst using the facilities.
A user has added a request for improvements to be made to the road surface on the Sydenham Bypass cycle lane. They found that the lane going into Belfast is very rough, whereas going outwards from Belfast it is much smoother. Due to general wear and tear this lane potentially needs resurfaced. This is clear from the image below, as the lane has a visibly uneven surface.
Along the Stranmillis Embankment path there are strips of cobblestone every 3-4 metres. These strips are hard on bikes and can make the route uncomfortable for cyclists. Removing these strips of cobblestones would allow for a much smoother ride for cyclists along this route.
We hope you’ve found the first of our 2022 See.Sense reports an informative and interesting read. We have also conducted See.Sense report analysis on Dublin and London, so make sure to check these out if you haven't already. We’ll have more reports coming throughout the year - stay tuned!
If you want to make a report of your own, simply download the free See.Sense app. You can drop a pin highlighting close passes, collisions, obstructions and more using our Ride Survey feature. If you have ideas about how your city can improve cycling, you can also make suggestions using our Infrastructure Request feature.
By using See.Sense report, you’re joining a community of cyclists who are helping make cycling safer and smarter, and enabling city and transport planners to improve cycle infrastructure. To learn more, visit See.Sense Report
Our fortnightly newsletter shines a light on the people, places and things making cycling better, and includes our latest news, offers and competitions.