01/10/2010

'Traffic Free' Belfast Plan Launched

A radical shake up for traffic in Belfast City Centre has been announced.

'Belfast on the Move' aims to substantially reduce traffic levels and provide more road space for public transport, pedestrians and cyclists.

Around 30,000 vehicles use the streets on both sides of the city hall each day but about 60% is through traffic.

Consultation on the proposals will close on 30 November after the NI Transport Minister, Conor Murphy, launched the ambitious masterplan.

The Minister said: "Belfast city centre has been transformed in recent years with major regeneration and retail redevelopments.

"A thriving city centre needs a transport system that not only encourages the use of more sustainable transport to reduce congestion but also enhances the environment for those who shop, visit, work and live in Belfast city centre," he said, noting that the plan aims to substantially reduce those traffic levels and provide more road space for public transport, pedestrians and cyclists.

"My vision is to achieve a city centre where access by public transport is given a much higher priority, and to create a safe street environment tailored to the needs of pedestrians rather than the private car.

"Over 40% of households in Belfast do not have access to a private car and therefore rely on public transport.

"For the city centre to thrive, people need to be able to access goods and services swiftly and efficiently and public transport will play an increasingly important role in this as non essential traffic is redirected away from the central area," he said.
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"The Belfast on the Move proposals will promote a safe, sustainable and efficient transport system within Belfast City Centre," he continued, noting that a proposed 'Sustainable Transport Enabling Measure' will require the redistribution of available road space in the city centre in favour of public transport, pedestrians and cyclists. Improvements will be made to the road network to the west of the central area to provide an alternative route for northbound traffic.

"The longer term objectives of the Masterplan are to remove through traffic from the streets around City Hall so that it can be linked directly to Donegall Place and to improve public transport by facilitating cross-city bus routes and future Rapid Transit routes," he concluded.

Belfast Lord Mayor, Councillor Pat Convery welcomed the proposals and pointed out that Belfast City Council has recently published its own revised Transport Policy, providing a framework for it to lead by example and help shape transportation in the city in a sustainable, accessible and cost effective way for all those who live, visit and work in the city.

"The aim is to adopt a strong and public city leadership role in the promotion of sustainable transport for the city of Belfast," he said.

The public are invited to view the proposals at exhibitions to be held in Castlecourt Shopping Centre (Monday 4 - Wednesday 6 October 2010) and Victoria Square Shopping Centre (Thursday 7 - Friday 8 October 2010) and DRD offices at Clarence Court, 10-18 Adelaide St (Monday 11 - Friday 29 October 2010).

See: Belfast Road Plan

(BMcC/GK)

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