Ole Espana – Cycling Lanes
Anyone who has been to our beloved island of Mallorca will be familiar with the distinctive blue cycle lanes. They look like Papa Smurf has been out decorating the roads just for cyclists. The reality of these lanes are that they are completely segregated from footpaths and roads, and even more so, they cannot be used as a hard shoulder or parking bays by motorists. On mainland Spain, it is not uncommon for these cycle lanes to go on for miles, and they are well maintained to encourage their use. Having said that, Spain are pioneers in cycle safety, it being the law that motorists must give cyclists 1.5metres of passing room, similar to what a motor vehicle would receive.
Compare that to what is on offer in North Down. The new cycle way running between the Donaghadee Road and Gransha Road, whilst in spirit should be applauded in keeping people safe, in reality is a token gesture. This will be a shared space with pedestrians and will only have a white line demarcating the boundaries, but hopefully walkers and cyclists alike will show courtesy to each other. Having ridden this lane, it was clear that it was not being swept for stones or debris, and similar to the cycle path along the dual carriageway from the Old Belfast Road to Ballyrobert is just not maintained or fit for purpose. The rescinding of the bye-law allowing cyclists along the coastal path is great, but if it was even slightly upgraded, more and more people would be encouraged to commute along this beautiful stretch of water. And that will ease congestion on the roads, in hospitals and at the GP surgery.
With a bit of investment and the will to do it, building proper Spanish style cycle routes could revolutionise cycling but until King Car abdicates in most people’s minds, we will have to make do with what we have.
Racing Success Continues for NDCC
With the legs now flushed after the Tour of the North, the weekend racing once again proved successful, with the deadly duo of Dave Watson and Dave Hamilton continuing to show great form. On Saturday at the CicliSport GP in Co.Tyrone, Watson took the top spot with Hamilton coming in third. On Sunday in Coalisland, first year senior Andrew Chivers rode strongly to finish sixth on the testing circuit of the PJ Logan GP with Stephen Cardy taking fifth in the Masters. MTB Enduro racer Jacob Kennedy got a hard fought for top ten result at Castlewellan. NDCC are showing their worth in all aspects of cycling.
Bow Bells TT League
The club’s racing season commences next Wednesday with the start of the Bow Bells TT League. The dreaded ‘Killermetre’ has been replaced with the Murder Mile – a straight out and back one mile, give it all and leave nothing in the tank! Sign on is at 6.45pm at Warren Road. As always, marshals are required for the League to maintain the safety of riders and motorists, so please go to the events calendar and volunteer when you can.
Pub Quiz Night
The annual Pub Quiz Night will be held at Pickie Bowling Club on Friday 15th April. Tickets are booking up quickly, so please contact Kieran Beattie to reserve your team spot. The Ras team will be holding a raffle, so please give generously as this helps fund their eight days of hell in the grueling race that attracts the very best riders from all over Europe.
NDCC ran a successful programme for young riders to teach them handling skills whilst making the experience a fun event. It is hoped to repeat this again this year. Open to kids 6yrs-14yrs, Little Muckers is a mountain bike club held in Castle Park. This a safe environment for kids to learn how to ride bikes while having fun. There are obstacle courses to practice on and races to show off their new talents. Again, this can only work if there is enough commitment from club members to help out, as there are always plenty of young people wanting to participate. If you are interested, contact Scott Armstrong via email.