Revolution in the air
Belfast’s bike revolution moved up a gear this week with the launch of the Belfast Bike Share scheme.
Over 100 cycling champions turned out at City Hall yesterday for a pre-launch circuit of the Dome of Delight before the scheme goes live tomorrow (Monday).
Kudos to the hardworking Belfast City Council team who delivered this game-changing project — led by Council CEO and keen cyclist Suzanne Wylie.
Great modern cities are also great bike cities and while Dublin can boast it has the most popular bikeshare scheme in Europe — the 10 millionth bikeshare ride took place recently — Belfast is now moving into the fast track.
Another inspiring community building idea was also fast-tracked this week when city councillors agreed to back the first-ever Ciclovía in these islands. I look forward to our first Ciclovía in late June from Botanic Gardens to City Hall along closed roads. When I first proposed the Belfast Ciclovia, the response was uniformly positive, now it’s time to get on our bikes and deliver an initiative which uses bikes to build a better Belfast.
We will roll out the red carpet this week to welcome international guests for the annual BelTech conference, the biggest gathering of start-up entrepreneurs, tech gurus and big data engineers in Belfast.
Our local tech titans are led by Kainos, an indigenous spin-out from Queen’s University which is now a world-leader in software engineering.
But it’s the arrival of our international guests which gives the conference an added edge — most notably Mayor Rodney Elliott of Lowell, Massachusetts, Mayor Hedda Foss Five of Skien, Norway, and Katie Atkinson of datasnap.io in San Francisco.
We will, in fact, be seeking a collective noun for a gathering of mayors as I’m really pleased to hear that Mayor Fintan Warfield of South County Dublin Council and Mayor John Campbell of Donegal will also be giving the conference their take on how the internet of things can improve the lives of our citizens.
Finally, you may have noticed there’s an election going on. It’s a fabulous campaign which culminates on polling day on 7 May (not 8 May despite what you may hear on this BBC report). I am confident that change is in the air and that I will, as I did last May, top the poll again by attracting votes from every corner and every sector in South Belfast. And if elected, I pledge to be a tireless ambassador for South Belfast, carrying a positive and optimistic message about a city on the rise. As I head back out on the canvass trail, I wish my fellow-candidates well in what, to date, has been a tough but sporting contest. You can make your own mind up on how I am doing from the clip below from a BBC profile of the constituency.