Analysis: Bangor to Belfast road is notoriously busy

A car is taken away after the crash on the main road between Bangor and Belfast on Tuesday morning near Holywood in which David Catherwood was killed. 
Pic Colm Lenaghan/ Pacemaker
A car is taken away after the crash on the main road between Bangor and Belfast on Tuesday morning near Holywood in which David Catherwood was killed. Pic Colm Lenaghan/ Pacemaker

This tragic cycling death is sobering news for all of us who have cycled on the Bangor-Belfast road.

It is a notoriously busy and dangerous route and yet an enjoyable one to cycle if you are reasonably swift.

A decade or so ago, I cycled a lot to and from Bangor along the quieter Holywood Hills until one day I fell badly at Craigantlet crossroads and gave up cycling. But like many other cyclists on occasion I would use the main road if it was a quiet traffic time such as Sunday morning or a late June evening.

This accident has happened at just such a time – before 6.30am on a bright morning.

If you can get your cycling speed up towards 20mph, then the other vehicles are mostly only going 20 to 30mph faster, depending on the speed limit – which, happily, is now rigidly enforced by average speed cameras and the route now seems to have fewer fatal collisions. Formerly cars routinely travelled at 60mph in the 50mph sections.

But maintaining a fast cycling pace is very hard on uphill stretches.

Driving on a busy Sunday afternoon recently I found myself caught in a long line of cars on the inside lane behind a cyclist pushing up the hill out of Devil’s Elbow at Seahill at 10mph or less, amid constant traffic in the outside lane.

Cycling at such a time on that route is unwise.