Belfast loves its new pedestrian core and play streets - DON'T hand it all back to traffic

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Jonathan Hobbs
Jonathan Hobbs signed this petition

The Bank Buildings fire ripped the heart out of Belfast in 2018. Livelihoods were put at risk as footfall dropped due to the safety cordon which closed Castle Place. The situation was bleak.

Then the city pulled together. Pedestrian access was restored. Buses were rerouted. City life slowly recovered. Businesses reopened. The newly pedestrianised core encouraged shopper dwell, with the Belfast Telegraph reporting "pre-Christmas footfall around city shops up by almost 20%" on the previous year. 

In a magic move, Belfast City Council coordinated the establishment of temporary play parks, pedestrian seating, artificial grass and planters - in short, making the city fun, more attractive as a destination, and wonderfully family-friendly.

All the while there was no traffic noise, fumes or danger. And the city still works around the core - buses still move, cars still park, deliveries get made.

Now Belfast City Council has announced the end to the temporary parks and signalled that the pedestrianised streets will be reopened to traffic, wiping this all away. This is wrong, unnecessary and wasteful. 

Belfast has had a working example of the kind of liveable, traffic-free city core that many other cities around the world are actively creating - and we're about to return to clogging the city up with vehicles, ploughing hundreds of buses through shopping and leisure streets that are now thriving without them. 

Halt this rush to hand back our streets to vehicles. Evaluate how Metro services are coping with the diversions. Make these streets permanently traffic-free, while ensuring reasonable access for loading and servicing vehicles at strictly limited times, and prioritising the provision of disabled parking bays on the approaches.

We're lucky to have seen and experienced how amazing our city centre could be - now let's make it permanent!

#KeepBelfastFun