“Businesses can’t keep subsidising Northern Ireland’s car dependency” says Cycling UK

The UK’s cycling charity is calling on decision-makers in Northern Ireland to realise the benefits more cycling can have for business

As the All Party Cycling Group (APG) sets the terms of its inquiry into how Northern Ireland can become more cycle friendly today (Wednesday 16 August 2023), Cycling UK is calling on the group of cross-party MLAs and the Department for Infrastructure (DfI) to prioritise business by building more cycle lanes.

With Belfast a regular feature in the UK’s top five for cities suffering from congestion, the charity says this is affecting productivity, and that “business can’t keep subsidising Northern Ireland’s car dependency.”

Cycling UK argues that commuters and people want to make shorter journeys but feel they have no choice but to drive, due to a lack of safe cycling facilities. This has resulted in less than 2% of all journeys being cycled.

In cities such as Belfast, a recent report by Sustrans shows high percentages of people (68%) support safer cycle lanes which are separated from motor traffic, even if this would mean less room for driving.

Andrew McClean, Cycling UK’s spokesperson in Northern Ireland, said:

“Our capital is the fifth most congested city in the UK, two-thirds of our school journeys are driven, car parks are overflowing onto our pavements and into our cycle lanes. In Belfast alone, congestion cost £102m in 2022 – businesses can’t continue subsidising Northern Ireland’s car dependency.

“Warm words and aspiration to give people genuine choice in how they travel have done nothing. It’s why Cycling UK will present to the APG the importance of developing a plan of action for the future administration to create networks of safe cycle lanes.

“We also call on the Department for Infrastructure to adopt the findings of the group’s inquiry into cycle safety and have procedures in place for the new administration to adopt in its first 100 days.”

While cycling’s environmental, health and wellbeing benefits are well known, this has resulted in little to no difference in on the ground delivery in Northern Ireland. Cycling UK hopes that the business case for cycling will force decision-makers start acting.

“Businesses such as the Linen Quarter and Ulster University see the benefits of a workforce that can cycle, and are going to great lengths to make it easier for their employees from creating secure parking to providing showers,” commented Andrew. “The missing link, however, is how people get from home to their workplace safely – that’s what the Department for Infrastructure can deliver on.”


Notes to editors

  1. Cycling UK, the UK’s cycling charity, imagines a world where the streets are free of congestion and the air is clean to breathe, where parents encourage their children to cycle to school and everyone shares the exhilaration of being in the saddle. For more than 140 years, we’ve been making our streets safer, opening up new traffic free routes and inspiring more people to cycle more often. www.cyclinguk.org
  2. The All Party Cycling Group is setting the terms of its inquiry into making cycling safer in Northern Ireland on Wednesday 16 August.
  3. Sustrans Belfast Walking and Cycling Index 2021 found 68% of residents support building more physically separated on-road cycle tracks, even when this would mean less room for other road traffic: https://www.sustrans.org.uk/media/10416/belfast-walking-and-cycling-ind…
  4. Inrix Global Traffic Scorecard for 2022 ranked Belfast as fifth worst city for congestion in the UK https://inrix.com/scorecard

Press contact information

For more information, please contact the national Cycling UK press office www.cyclinguk.org/contact/press-and-media