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Residents claim cycle lane bollards are 'making life hell'

The locals allege the bollards, designed to protect vulnerable road users, are causing problems for the elderly members of the community

Residents in South Belfast say new cycle lane bollards are preventing ambulances stopping outside their homes and 'making their lives hell'.

During the pandemic, bollards were placed along the roadside edge of the cycle lane along Donegall Road by the Department of Infrastructure.

However local residents claim the bollards have caused difficulties because ambulances, deliveries and taxis are unable to stop near their homes.

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They also allege that cyclists have stopped using the cycle lanes due to puncture fears as street sweepers are unable to clear glass from them.

Speaking to Belfast Live, Irene Cowan, who lives on the road, said: "We just want rid of them, they are causing us nothing but bother. 

"There are many elderly residents who live in the bungalows along the road here and none of us are able to get ambulances to arrive safely outside of our homes. There is one poor gentleman battling cancer and it is terrible to see him struggle out of the house to try and get taken to the hospital.

"I even saw an ambulance coming down the road with its blue lights on recently and cars weren't able to get out of the way for it because there was nowhere they could go.

"Delivery drivers can't park near our homes either to drop off parcels or the shopping. These bollards are doing nothing but getting in the way and making things harder for people."

Another woman, Natalie Fletcher, said there were a number of other issues arising from the bollards being in place, as they have stopped cyclists from using the cycle lanes as often and there have been cases of children "leapfrogging" them when playing together.

She added: "Cyclists have stopped using the cycle lanes now because they get punctures with all of the glass in them.

"Most of them are on the footpath which means we are always having to watch ourselves when coming out of the house because some people fly down the hill."

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Local taxi firm Courtesy Cabs also claimed its drivers have also had problems with them.

A spokesperson said: "A number of our drivers have complained they have found it very difficult to turn out of certain streets due to the bollards restricting their ability to turn. There have been a number of near crashes as a result of this.

"Our elderly customers are also finding it difficult to be picked up and dropped off."

South Belfast MLA Christopher Stalford and Botanic councillor Tracey Kelly have been engaging with local residents who have found issues with the bollards and have asked the Department of Infrastructure that they be removed.

Councillor Kelly said: "There are a lot of elderly residents that live along this stretch of the Donegall Road and it would have been a regular occurrence to see an ambulance, doctor's car or hospital transport parked along here to care for them.

"They should not have to worry about whether or not an ambulance will be able to come to their home.

"This is not an issue with the cycle lane, which has worked very well for years prior to these bollards being installed. The cycle lanes are not able to be cleansed properly, many cyclists are avoiding the lanes as they are strewn with glass and other objects that may cause punctures. This is forcing cyclists onto the footpath and endangering pedestrians."

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