MAP: See the exact area covered by Belfast’s new 20mph zones

The whole area inside the red line is covered by the new 20mph restriction. The GREEN sections represent roads, while the BLUEISH parts are areas which are for pedestrians or of limited access to general vehicles. The map was originally drawn up by the DRD, and modified by News Letter.
The whole area inside the red line is covered by the new 20mph restriction. The GREEN sections represent roads, while the BLUEISH parts are areas which are for pedestrians or of limited access to general vehicles. The map was originally drawn up by the DRD, and modified by News Letter.

Bicycles and buses will be among the vehicles required to keep within a new 20mph speed limit for Belfast city centre, in force from Sunday, January 31.

Drivers in both the normal traffic lanes and the red bus lanes will have to keep within the new speed, with only emergency vehicles answering calls being exempt from it.

The speed limit in Belfast city centre will be 20mph from Sunday

The speed limit in Belfast city centre will be 20mph from Sunday

The area covered by it is detailed in the map shown here.

Some business figures on Monday night said they did not feel the change will be that noticeable, because traffic is at such a “crawl” to begin with.

On Wednesday, January 28, The News Letter undertook a ‘test drive’ of part of the route at both 30mph and at 20mph, as taxi drivers in the city heavily criticised the scheme.

Belfast is the latest of five urban centres where the speed limit will come into force – Newtownabbey, Ballynahinch, Ballymena and Ballycastle had seen similar schemes introduced by the end of 2015.

Despite being billed as a “pilot” scheme, the DRD said that the new speed limits will be permanent. They may also be introduced to other areas too, depending on the schemes’ success.

In its press release announcing the move, the DRD said a “widespread consultation” took place before Christmas.

However when asked to see the responses, it said the process had been an “informal consultation”, not a formal one, with a spokeswoman saying that the plan had been advertised in newspapers, with readers then having a chance to write in about it.

When asked if speed cameras will be installed to police the zones, the PSNI was unable to answer by time of going to press.

The DRD hopes the plan will improve safety, especially for pedestrians and cyclists, without “any undue inconvenience for car drivers”.

Simon Kitchen, business development manager for large-scale taxi firm Fonacab, said: “If it’s going to help congestion, terrific. However, if you do 20mph around the city centre most of the time, you’d probably be doing well.”

Aodhan Connolly of the Northern Irish branch of the British Retail Consortium said the biggest problem as far as motor travel goes is parking.

He is not fearful shopper numbers will drop since “there are times when traffic is at an absolute crawl anyway, and you’d be lucky even doing 20mph”.

Ben Lowry: Yes to 20mph limits, but in place of Belfast’s bus lanes, not in addition to them