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Ghost bike tribute draws attention to road safety

By Paul Ainsworth

CYCLISTS in South Belfast have vowed to campaign for better road management following a “ghost bike” tribute to a local man killed while cycling.

Members of the local branch of cyclists group Critical Mass are behind the tribute to Saintfield man Michael Caulfield, who was killed last April in an accident close to the Ormeau Bridge.

Last week a white racer bicycle appeared chained to the bridge railings, similar to other “ghost bikes” placed across the world at spots where cyclists have lost their lives in traffic accidents.

Now local member John Wright has said the bikes could appear elsewhere across the North to highlight the dangers faced daily by cyclists from other road users. The campaigner also called upon the Department for Regional Development to implement better cycling lane provision to ensure the safety of those on two wheels.

Critical Mass use social media to encourage new members, and are calling for members to “reclaim the cities” with bikes in a bid to outnumber motorists. However Mr Wright said more needed to be done to accommodate the growing number of cyclists on local roads.

“The death of Mr Caulfield caused a ripple of fear among the cycling community, as it showed how vulnerable we can be among other road users,” he said.

“We dice with death on a daily basis unfortunately, and it shouldn’t be that way. Other countries have managed to find a place on the roads for responsible cyclists, so why can’t we have the same here. The Ormeau Ghost bike is a reminder that someone tragically lost their lives while simply trying to get about on their bicycle. We hope it reminds drivers to take us into consideration when they see us on the road.”

The idea of a ghost bike tribute originated in the US in 2003, and it is believed there are hundreds of the painted bikes chained to spots marking cycling accidents across the globe.

“This one is the first here, but it won’t be the last, as others will be placed to mark the spots where cyclists have lost their lives. We need Roads Service to implement a cycling strategy, and if the roads are safer, then we won’t see the number of ghost bikes grow.

A Roads Service spokesperson said: “The current DRD Transport Plan for Belfast is the Belfast Metropolitan Transport Plan 2015. This plan identifies a range of transport measures that can be expected to be carried out within the plan period, and these include measures to improve the cycling infrastructure. Roads Service continues to implement cycling measures throughout the Greater Belfast area in line with the objectives that have been set out within the plan.”


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