Northern Ireland

Call for North Down Council to enforce cycling by-laws

Coastal path at Helen's Bay
The path runs alongside Belfast Lough

Residents in north Down who use the coastal path are calling for the local council to enforce by-laws to prevent cyclists from using it.

Some want a complete ban but others want cyclists to be more considerate.

The path is just over 12 miles long and runs alongside Belfast Lough from Holywood though Bangor to Groomsport.

Retired Betty Annette loves walking along the coastal path but she was left injured one day after a cyclist knocked her down and rode off.

"The next thing I was just propelled forward from nowhere, down badly on my hip and my arms and hands," she said.

"Eventually the whole hip went black and blue, green, and all yellow. from my waist right down my thigh. I was really badly shaken by the whole thing."

Betty does not blame all cyclists - she knows some of them are very responsible.

But cyclists are breaking the local by-laws by using the coastal path. North Down Council says it is not in the public interest to prosecute them.

Liam Logan is a member of the SDLP. He said some cyclists did not take account of walkers.

"Some people are travelling along this coastal path at more than 22mph - now that is fast," he said.

Complaints

"When they come against someone like Betty there is only one loser and that I am afraid is Betty."

A complaint about cyclists using the path has been made to the police but they say it is up to North Down Council to enforce by-laws.

On Saturday, a group of cyclists, young and old, took part in a Christmas cycle ride along the path organised by Sustrans, a charity that promotes safe cycle routes.

Patricia Wallace from Sustrans said they have worked with North Down Council to bring more than £135,000 worth of funding towards widening a stretch of coastal path from Bangor to Helens Bay.

"We have a code of conduct for this shared use path where you use your bell to let people know you are coming you use your voice to be courteous and say thank you for people moving aside," she said.

"This is not a path for speeding cyclists.

"We would like to work with the residents to ensure that cyclists who want to do workouts or high speed are doing that in appropriate places."

North Down Council said it will amend its current by-laws. It is proposed that cycling will be accommodated on those stretches of the coastal path that have recently been upgraded.

In future, cyclists will not be breaking by-laws on at least some of the route, but they still might be breaking by-laws to actually ride onto part of the path they will be allowed on.