— Dublin used as example where “Taxis in bus lanes are today considered the biggest problem for cycling safety”.
Belfast’s taxi companies are their own worse enemy, according to local cycling advocates who want to keep Class A taxis out of the city’s bus lanes.
After a trial of 12 weeks to allow all taxis in Belfast’s bus lanes, the taxi firms are looking to be allowed in the bus lanes but cycling campaigners have said this would be poor for cycling safety and infringes on the limited space for cycling in the city.
After taxi company boses launched a postcard campaign this week, the cycling blog of NI Greenways said: “There is no greater enemy to the cause of private firm taxi access to bus lanes than the inept taxi firm bosses themselves. Most people can quickly work out the two main problems with the postcard: (1) You need to buy your own stamp – which is a really cheapskate move. (2) No-one thought to include a return address – which is brave. And thick.”
In a press release the taxi companies claimed that: “We can already see the benefits. Traffic is moving quicker. Congestion has reduced. Ordinary commuter’s car journeys are taking less time. In the bus lanes the transition has been smooth.”
But NI Greenways wasn’t having much of that. They said: “Hands up anyone (public, politicians, civil servants) who’s buying that congestion in Belfast has miraculously reduced and traffic is moving quicker? To quote William McCausland ‘you can use your eyes’ to see what nonsense this is.”
They added: “Are you prepared to let the private taxi firm lobby patronise you like this? To claim to speak on behalf of all ‘ordinary’ road users? To insult your intelligence and treat you like a fool?”
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At first when the surprise trial started with just four days notice, there was fear that it would default into a permanent arrangement.
In February, Sustrans said: “We are concerned that this ‘trial’ will be repeating the mistake made in Dublin where taxis were allowed into bus lanes for a temporary period in 1997 which then drifted into a permanent arrangement. Taxis in bus lanes are today considered the biggest problem for cycling safety in Dublin.”
But the Department for Infrastructure responded: “The trial will end on 14 May 2017 and will not require a Ministerial decision to end it. As with any trial it can be ended at any time, should the need arise.”
The department will then evaluate the trial.