Cyclists against taxi use of bus lanes

Published Thursday, 21 February 2013
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Cyclists have held a protest in Belfast against a proposal to allow private hire taxis to use city bus lanes.

Cyclists against taxi use of bus lanes
Protest outside City Hall in Belfast against bus lanes being open to all taxis (© Presseye)

Currently, only black cabs can use the Belfast system, but the Department for Regional Development is currently consulting on whether former private taxis can join them.

The move has been prompted by a forthcoming change to taxi licensing implemented by the DOE.

This will see the end of the current two tier system of public and private hire taxis to be replaced by a single tier arrangement.

Under the new licensing regime, all taxis will be allowed to pick up fares on the street.

A large rally gathered at in the city centre on Thursday to urge the Department for Regional development not to allow the taxis to use the lanes.

The cycling community took a stand against the move as they feel it will worsen safety for those who choose to use bikes on the roads.

Attending the rally was Tom McClelland, a volunteer with the national cycling charity CTC (Cyclists' Touring Club). He said the move could put off cyclists.

"Bus lanes are perceived to be a safe place for commuting cycling," he said.

"If we get more and more private hire taxis in bus lanes there's a real risk and real perception of increased danger which will put off more cyclists.

"Taxis aren't an economic way to travel. Taxis are seen to be expensive, they are polluting, they are certainly not socially inclusive."

He added: "Our view is: cycle to work. It's an awful lot cheaper, it's good for your health, its good for the environment and its socially inclusive."

PSNI figures show that while road casualties are down, the number of cyclists hurt or seriously injured has continued to rise over the last ten years.

Ghost bikes have appeared in the city after a number of fatal accidents, including on the Ormeau Road and Newtownards Road.

The introduction of additional bus lanes from last summer, as part of DRD's 'Belfast on the Move' scheme, was met by criticism due to delays and congestion when it was first implemented.

But William McCausland from taxi firm Fonacab said it is essential for his business that they are permitted to use the bus lanes.

"The lanes are massively underused at the moment and the inclusion of the private hire vehicles, which will be public hire very soon under the legislation changes," he said.

"The taxis aren't nearly as large as the buses, so their ability to manoeuvre around the cyclists is going to be much simpler.

"We are talking about professional drivers here, who are experienced drivers, are well aware of safety aspects and I don't see any problem whatsoever with regard to cyclists' safety," he continued.

"It would be a massive help to us. With all the work going on around City Hall and the reduction in the private car lanes, it makes it very difficult for our cabs to get to pick up passengers."

Launching the consultation last June, Regional Development Minister Danny Kennedy said he was aware of "potential impact that increased traffic volumes may have on the performance of existing bus lanes".

"However, taxis assist the public and need to be able operate by being able to pick up passengers on their routes," he added.

A DRD Roads Service spokeswoman said the consultation has concluded and the minister will announce his decision in due course.

© UTV News
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34 Comments
mark in belfast wrote (585 days ago):
Once the bus lanes have been opened up to private taxis I will open a taxi mini bus company and copy existing bus routes to provide customers with a more personal and comfortable ride (all at a lower cost than translink- which wont be hard) Now Seriously - when will the powers that be wake up and support and invest in translink instead of making proposals which will benefit private taxi firms owners????? One of the advantages of the bus is that bus lanes are generally free of traffic meaning quick and generally safe travel! This new proposal will ensure that the lanes are blocked and taxis will start/stop as they please. I wonder will an annual fe be introduced- if not will it be worth my while to register my vehicle as a taxi and have free use of the road???
Donald Duck in Belfast wrote (585 days ago):
HELLO! For anyone who hasn't been living under a rock recently, private hire taxis use the bus lanes all the time! Legislate whatever you want, but without an appropriately funded policing service to look out for us, the only people who suffer are those who chose to abide by the law. Let's make a law that you shouldn't steal. Oh, no. Wait a minute; they already did that. Who polices it? I know. Let's make a law that you have to stick to the speed limit. Oh, darn. Flummoxed there, too. Let's take the cheap-and-nasty alternative of putting speedbumps everywhere instead. ...and as for that McCausland chap. ummm... hold on... yes, cars can manoeuvre round cycles better than busses. I have a GREAT idea. Let's open up the cycling lanes to cars and keep busses out of them. That way the cyclists will be nice and safe. You didn't think that through very well. Travelling to work rapidly at 8am is just as essential to my business as it is to yours, but that doesn't mean we get to use the bus lanes. You didn't think that through... are you noticing a theme, yet? There's not a snowball's chance in hell I'd cycle into Belfast. On the other hand, have you been a passenger in a taxi lately? It's like being on a rollercoaster. The way they dodge cyclists, busses and those menaces in private cars... I mean, I don't expect taxi drivers to be members of the Chauffer's Guild, but surely they could go a little bit easier on the brakes and accelerator? Vehicle empathy. Passenger Empathy. Look it up. Danny Kennedy? WHO? Have I ever met him on a bus? Maybe in a taxi or on a bike? Ha ha ha.
annie mac in belfast wrote (585 days ago):
Not only do cyclists drive through red lights, they also take themselves onto footpaths if the lights dont suit them. Cyclists cant have it all ways.
mark in belfast wrote (586 days ago):
Terry I think you need to take a good look at the highway code! Consideration must be taken for all road users this includes pedestrians and cyclists.
Claire in Belfasr wrote (586 days ago):
Why do cyclists think it's ok for them to go through red lights? It's so dangerous but so many of them do it!
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