I’d have a post full of interesting* cycling infrastructure to show you from our recent trip to Northern Ireland (actually on the drive down there were some interesting bike lanes on the Ormeau Road that were on the pavement most of the time and then hopped back onto the road across the junctions so they had right of way. I’ve not seen anything like that in the UK – or anywhere, come to think of it – I wonder what Belfast Bike Lanes or NI Greenways have to say about those) (Update – thanks to the excellent NI Greenways for finding the Google Streetview link to the ones I mean).
I have actually written about cycling in Newcastle (Co Down, that is, not the other Newcastle) – but for the first time we had two bikes at our disposal, so we cycled a lot more, including places I had only ever been to by car before. It’s revealing experiencing somewhere you thought you knew by bike for the first time, if only because you discover where all the hills are. We used to holiday in Newcastle all the time when I was growing up (all through the troubles) and I remember the ‘Ulster salute’: one finger lifted off the steering wheel to greet an oncoming driver. That reflected a different age, when cars were rare. Now the place feels very car dominated, and there’s a new kind of Ulster greeting – the squeeeeeze by of a car that needs to overtake a bike when there’s no actual room to do so because there’s another car coming the other way. There’s a nice curve on a busy road between the cottage and the rest of town that, pretty much every time I cycled it, a car passed me despite being unable to see the oncoming traffic, whether I pulled out to ‘take the lane’ or not. The only car that didn’t had Dublin plates and left the other half slightly unnerved as it tailed him all the way along the seafront. Sometimes you get to the point where you’d rather they’d just hurry up and kill you and get it over with.
Despite all this, we saw quite a few bikes – more than I’ve ever noticed in the town before – of all shapes and sizes, about 95% of which (including all the posties) were on the pavement. Indeed, cycling back along a nice straight 60mph road with not even a strip of paint for a bike lane, that included us. I’m all for being a legal cyclist but I’m not that keen on being a dead one. And the only person we met on the pavement was another cyclist going the other way and a chap on a recumbent handcycle. Nobody seemed to mind, one way or the other.
Anyway, a you’ll be pleased to learn that a new battery has restored my phone into something resembling life and so, in lieu of all those interesting* pictures of bike infrastructure, here are some holiday snaps instead.
Does look pretty, haven’t yet been to NI but it is on my to do list.
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Was in Ballycastle in August. We drove up the Antrim coastal path on the Sunday and there were quite a large number of cyclists taking their live into their own hands, with quite a large number of cars (and scarily buses) overtaking them on the blind bends – the road is barely wide enough for a car and a bus to pass in some places. I don’t think I could cycle on that road, yet my father-in-law has a friend who does the trip from Ballycastle to Larne every day.
We’d hoped to borrow our in-laws bikes whilst we were over there but they’d gone rusty with disuse and I was very dubious of the brakes – shame as it looked a far better bike than the one I have
alan – Down is pretty, I don’t really know that much of the rest of NI (apart from the road from Belfast)
Paul – last time I just resurrected my Mum’s bike (the brakes did need attention – but then my own brakes generally need attention too)
I recognise that last photo, I was there only a few weeks ago.
Was it Tollymore forest?
Travelled all over NI in a car, know Newcastle there quite well too. Used to cycle along the Lagan canal and out to Whiteabbey via Belfast Lough, fantastic times five or six years ago. Thanks for the post, brought back very happy memories, when times were a lot better, for my wife and her family. Cheers.