North Down Cyclists celebrate Valentines Day and call for action

With Paul Smith, Co-owner of Bikeworks
Cyclists from across North Down met up in Bangor on Saturday 12 February 2011 to continue their life long love affair with cycling. Over twenty people used pedal power to travel to Bangor Bus and Rail Station and then embarked upon a mass cycle around Bangor as part of Friends of the Earth Valentine’s Weekend Love your Bike event.

The mass cycle ended at Bikeworks Balloo for the launch of the North Down Cycling Manifesto. Organised by Friends of the Earth North Down & Ards group and supported by Sustrans, the event attracted a lot of attention from Saturday shoppers and motorists alike.

With Lorna Hamilton, Friends of the Earth
I attended and helped organise the event as a Friends of the Earth activist and Sustrans Cycling Ranger. It was great to see so many cyclists on Saturday determined to put the wheels in motion towards a Bicycle friendly Borough. Young and old, male and female, everyone was firmly committed to ensuring North Down becomes a place where more and more people can safely Love their Bike as the quick, cheap, convenient, healthy and environmentally friendly way to get from A to B.

During our ride we used the green advance stop lines on many occasions. These boxes have recently appeared across Bangor and are designed to give cyclists a head start at traffic lights rather than having to compete with other vehicles. They are an important safety measure and shouldn’t be entered by motorists until the traffic lights turn green.

On a mini bicycle
When we arrived at Bikeworks we launched our eight point Cycling Manifesto for North Down.  Contained within the Manifesto are simple measures which government can implement to make North Down a Bicycle friendly Borough. Proposed actions include Upgrade of the final section of the North Down Coastal Path linking North Down to the National Cycle Network, Titanic Quarter and Belfast City Centre and relaxation of No Cycling Bylaws.

People were enthused about the prospects of a Borough which better serves the needs of cyclists and agreed to take forward each of the points with future mass cycle rides planned to put Cycling higher up the Agenda of decision makers.

Friends of the Earth, North Down Cycling Manifesto

1.Upgrade of the final section of the North Down Coastal Path linking North Down to the National Cycle Network, Titanic Quarter and Belfast City Centre

2.Creation and signposting of a North Down Cycling Network incorporating Roads, North Down Coastal Path, Ulster Way, Parks, Rights of Way plus Bus and Rail services benefits both walkers and cyclists alike.

3.Provision of Tourist Cycle Hire scheme at Tower House, Bangor

4. Education and awareness raising programme directed at the general public promoting the benefits associated with cycling

5.Safer cycling in North Down through improved awareness of key issues by all road users including motorists and cyclists

6.Relaxing of No Cycling Bylaws

7.Increased and improved secure cycle parking facilities in Bangor and Holywood Town Centre

8.Cycle Path markings along A2 Dual Carriageway from Groomsport to Belfast