The Belfast Hub is a proposal for a new transport hub to replace the current Great Victoria Station infrastructure, which is currently at a limit to support the current flow of people that crosses it. With the increase in tourism numbers to visit Belfast, this project aims to build infrastructure that will enable more than 18 million people to use The Hub.
The Hub focus
The Hub has a promise of creating better integration between modes of transport, regenerate the area and the community around the hub, attract more commercial investment to the area and to build places in the hub neighbourhood to encourage more people to stop by.
The proposed infrastructure of the Hub itself has been pushed back to the Durham St from the Great Victoria St. The reason for this was to make a proper front for a building that would be welcoming so many people into Belfast (despite increasing the walking distance towards the city centre and adding a road crossing).
The regeneration of the area is also key to bring new investment to the neighbourhood. Changing the entrance further back allows for the remaining free space to be the target of commercial investment. With more investment, it is expected that this former industrial area can rejuvenate and offer another place to dwell near the city centre.
The main focused means of transportation are, naturally, the train and bus. This two modes of transport occupy great majority of the area of the Hub. Their links to airports, other cities and other countries are very important to connect Belfast and make it accessible for all people, from commuters to tourists.
Pedestrians will continue to have a pedestrian only area through the Great Northern Mall and a public plaza just in front of the Hub entrance.
Metro buses will still be available at the same stops, which means extra walk for pedestrians to access them.
The proposal includes taxis bays in both the Durham St and Glengall St.
Belfast Rapid Transport connectivity is also planned for with three halts within 600m of walking distance from the Hub entrance.
Proposed Cycling Infrastructure
Cycling has also been considered. The new plans from the government departments to increase the usage of sustainable transports, reducing pollution and improve general health demand that such an efficient mode of transport that provides so many benefits to not be forgotten. As such, the proposals for people who opt to cycle are as follows.
- Multiple Cycle Hubs around the entrances
- Connectivity with Belfast Bicycle Network and cycle paths
- Shared Paths at Station Sq Plaza and Glengall St
- 12 ASL’s proposed in the vicinities of the new Hub
The sketches are here and the first look seems unexciting.
It is good to see cycle hubs, which might include Belfast Bikes scheme and proper cycle parking.
The connectivity with Belfast Bicycle Network schemes is also a win, namely the scheme proposed at Bikefast to re-stitch Belfast from the new transport Hub to the other side of the Westlink and to the City Hospital.
The reason this proposal is so underwhelming is the insistence in mixing cycles and pedestrians when there is more than enough space to provide for both. Glengall Street and Durham St seems a wasted opportunity to return the road to the people. However, each of the cases is different and deserves their own article.
The final big red flag is the appearance of 12 (twelve!) advanced stop lines (ASL) in the design. This is an outdated cycling infrastructure (if it ever was) that does nothing to help protect and increase the safety of cyclists. Though it has been largely used in the UK in the past decades it is now time to give it a goodbye and to never be seen again, especially in new proposals.
The proposal is planned to be submitted by the end of March and, hopefully, the good on this proposal is kept and set in stone. I also hope that there is still time to improve the less than adequate facilities and provide more space for people.