Design leads to (un)desirable behaviour

Belfast Harbour is currently under heavy renovation, with the second City Quays building and the new hotel under active construction at the Clarendon Docks. The area right beside it has one of the few fully protected cycle paths in Belfast. So, on the 8 of February, I noticed that this section was the target of drivers that decided to turn a very visible bend into a blind bend.

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Before a visible bend, now a blind bend
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Same lack of visibility from the other direction

This stretch is very narrow and the lack of visibility poses a problem for the people that choose to cycle down this stretch of the NCN 93. Fortunately, Belfast Habour has provided swift response and action.

I monitored during the following days, and for the number of cars parked on the pavement, causing visibility issues, has reduced, even if it is not ideal.

Other Examples

Just a bit further down the road towards Belfast and the following machine was a common sight at lunch hour in the cycle path. The reason for it to be parked there is unknown, but it caused great inconvenience for those that decided to cycle through there.

This behaviour is not unique to construction teams. Reporters from BBC Newsline apparently thought it was appropriate to park on the sidewalk.

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Poor Behaviour is shared across all drivers, given the “right” circumstances

Conclusion

The first and the second examples show how temporary works reveal the limitations of the current infrastructure in place. In case the safety of the most vulnerable users is put into question, then steps to protect them need to be taken into account.

The last example just presents how poorly the bollards were positioned and that they fail to prevent any driver to park on the sidewalk.

Poor design leads to undesirable behaviour.

Poor behaviour forces intervention.

Intervention requires additional resources.

Resources that are mostly not available to protect the most vulnerable users.

So, it is time to make planners design for the most vulnerable users first and make infrastructure self-inforcing.

These self-inforcing designs will prevent additional (not available) intervention and will protect the most vulnerable users, encouraging at the same time the use of sustainable modes of transport, which yield multiple benefits, both personally and socially.

It is time to understand that

Design leads Behaviour

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