With the opening of a new 575 space car park in Belfast City Centre can we remove 575 on street car parking spaces and replace them with bike lanes?

2020 has not been a good year for the McCausland family. Firstly they own Value Cabs, which has been hit hard by COVID, then they open up a new car park just as the city has record low levels of commuters. I am sure all of you working from home really miss having to pay £20 a day to park in Belfast. Still, they have been in business over 100 years so I imagine this too shall pass for them.

Social media has not shown a lot of love for their new car park as it is not exactly an architectural gem. Putting aesthetics aside, Jonathan over at NI Greenways makes a good point:

I am a driver and a cyclist so I am not completely anticar. But I think it’s obvious to me anyway that before COVID the traffic in Belfast was mental. We need to give people more options to walk and cycle in safety. By removing on-street parking spots it could free up space for more cycle lanes.

The department of Infrastructure would lose revenue from the removal of parking bays but I think they should expand on-street parking charges into other areas plagued by commuter cars such as the area around Queen’s and Townsend St. Anywhere commuters park should have meters. It is very hard to motivate people out of their cars if they are getting free parking.

I know parking is not an issue now we having tumbleweed rolling through the city centre, but we should be using the opportunity of the quieter roads to rejig the network.

Belfast City Centre will only succeed if they concentrate on making it an attractive place to visit and spend time. Reducing cars is the number one priority in making it a people-centred city.

Photo by Aayush Srivastava is licensed under CC0