Friday the 13th of March 2015 will go down as a day of infamy amongst the commuter cyclists of Belfast. Nobody died, nobody was seriously injured, but the possibility for doing so was immense. And all this was watched benevolently by the PSNI.
You see, due to a union strike, the reasons for which I won't go into, there was no public transport across the whole province, now you would have thought this was a perfect opportunity to get people on a bike, people were predicting carmageddon, so it would make sense that anyone who had a bike and lived within say 10 miles of Belfast could happily pedal in if they normally used the bus or train.
Then the Police got involved.
Somebody decided it would be a good idea to announce they wouldn't be enforcing the bus lanes.
Genius. In one fell swoop they managed to create traffic chaos and made sure that cycling in Belfast went from merely hazardous to positively suicidal. Now I know that enforcing the bus lanes is not exactly the PSNI's strong suit, but for a police force to announce that they would not be upholding the law (and it was still illegal to drive in them, that much hadn't changed) was simply extraordinary. As someone who tries to stay as lawful as possible I found this a bit much, as much as it would be nice to pull an Uzi and turn the next Value Cab driver who cuts me up into a bleeding mess with more holes than a tea bag, there are laws that say I can't, those laws are in the same statute book as the ones regarding bus lanes. They said they would be "rigorously" enforcing parking offences, I guess they must have gave that up as a bad job.
So what did Friday bring? A complete nightmare for anyone cycling in Belfast. I couldn't cycle myself because of work, but I had a ringside seat as I drove into town. The main routes into Belfast were gridlocked, anybody cycling was forced to either sit in traffic or illegally ride on the footpath, plenty did, once the usual bus commuters got into town, they found that there was nowhere to park, cars were abandoned on footpaths, green spaces, anywhere that had the potential to accommodate the 4 wheels had a car on it.
So there you have it, it's semi official, the private car is king.