Cycling in Northern Ireland

The Walking and Cycling Unit provides a policy and co-ordination role for queries or issues relating to walking and cycling.

In 2015 the Department outlined the kind of cycling community we would like to see over the next 25 years, with the publication of ‘Northern Ireland Changing Gear – a Bicycle Strategy for Northern Ireland’. With the vision of ‘a community where people have the freedom and confidence to travel by bicycle for everyday journeys’.  As part of the Bicycle Strategy the Walking and Cycling Unit is developing bicycle networks for urban areas, starting with Belfast.

The Department also published  ‘Exercise – Explore – Enjoy: A Strategic Plan for Greenways’ in 2016, which sets out plans for a network of greenways, connecting towns and cities to the villages and countryside from east to west and north to south across all eleven councils. It aims to bring back into use much of the disused railway network and give people ready access to a safe traffic-free environment for health, active travel and leisure.

Developing this greenway network and urban bicycle networks will contribute to several draft Programme for Government outcomes through delivering active travel infrastructure, reducing congestion, improving air quality and providing a safe and accessible recreational resource for more healthy active lifestyles.

The Unit is currently drafting an Urban Walking Policy to encourage more people to walk more, especially for those shorter journeys, which make up around one third of all our trips.  

Cycling Infrastructure in Belfast

A web-link is provided below which provides further information on cycling infrastructure in Belfast:

[1] DfI will not be responsible if the information contained within the DfI Cycling Infrastructure map is misinterpreted or misused and therefore users must satisfy themselves that the information provided is suitable for their intended purpose.  In no event shall DfI, under any cause of actions of any kind arising out of or related to the use of the DfI Cycling Infrastructure map be liable for any loss of profits or direct, indirect, incidental, consequential or other loss suffered by the user.

This is the first time this data has been published and is subject to change.  For any general queries relating to the DfI Cycling Infrastructure map or walking or cycling issues, please contact:

Active Travel Branch
Transport Policy Division
Clarence Court
10-18 Adelaide Street

Belfast Bicycle Network

Work is nearly complete on a Belfast Bicycle Network and this will help the development and operation of the bicycle infrastructure in the city for the next 10 years.  It is primarily focused on developing a core coherent city wide bicycle network to provide convenient access to safe cycling facilities throughout the city and further develop the Department’s vision for the delivery of cycling for Belfast. 

Bicycle routes for Belfast

The Department is continuing to build on the emerging cycling infrastructure throughout the city centre with a new segregated cycle path linking Broadway Roundabout to the Bog Meadows.  This will create a 2.5km segregated route from Titanic Quarter Station through the city centre to Bog Meadows and connect to an existing path that leads through the nature reserve to the Falls Road and Falls Park.

Further connections are also being developed to add linkages to the Alfred Street / Upper Arthur Street cycle lane.  These schemes will ensure that more priority is given to cycling while reducing the permeability of vehicular traffic in the city centre. 


Greenways are traffic-free routes that connect people and places, and are used by all kinds of people; walking, cycling, hiking and jogging.

‘Exercise – Explore – Enjoy’ (published on 9 November 2016) sets out the vision for a region where people have ready access to a safe traffic-free environment for health, active travel and leisure.  It highlights the key role that local government has in the delivery of the greenway network in light of their responsibilities for recreation and green spaces.  It also has the potential to significantly improve the uptake of walking and cycling, increasing levels of physical activity in line with the draft Programme for Government Outcomes for healthy active lives and connecting people and opportunities through our infrastructure. 

Greenway development will bring potential benefits in the areas of active travel, physical and mental health and wellbeing (including leisure and recreation), the promotion of more active lifestyles, social inclusion, tourism and the strengthening of the local economy.

Belfast Bike Life

Sustrans, in partnership with the Department, produced its first ‘Belfast Bike Life’ report in 2015.  A second report was published in 2017.  The third report is due in early 2020.  The project, inspired by a similar project running in Copenhagen since 1996, involves a biennial report on the progress towards making cycling an attractive everyday means of travel in Belfast.  The report examines:

  • How Belfast residents currently travel;
  • What might make them want to start cycling OR cycle more;
  • What impact cycling has on the economy, environment, health & wellbeing, etc;
  • The facilities that are currently available in the city i.e. cycling infrastructure and cycle parking.

Belfast Bike Life

Is it too wet to commute by bicycle in Belfast?

Andrew Grieve, the Head of the Walking & Cycling Unit who regularly commutes the 2.5 miles from his home in east Belfast to work in the city centre – a journey which takes, typically, 15 minutes in each direction decided to find out.

The link below includes Andrew’s two reports:

More useful links

Back to top