In 2021, LQ BID (an independent not for profit company) launched Northern Ireland's first sustainable district, in Belfast, with a series of ten initiatives to make the Linen Quarter the most sustainable business area in the region.
Building on the launch, we organised RE[act] Festival, a completely new NI festival that sought to inspire – and lead – a more sustainable Belfast (and Northern Ireland). As part of this festival, we dedicated a day to green transport, showcasing a range of activities by partners including Translink, Big Loop Bikes and Connswater Community Greenway.
Event attendees got the opportunity to get on board Translink's first zero emission all-electric double-decker bus. Importantly, Belfast citizens learned about the steps being taken to revolutionise and decarbonise the city’s public transport system to be climate positive by 2050.
We created an opportunity to walk around ‘active travel’ stands, including Connswater Community Greenway, to learn more how you can switch to a more sustainable way of transport by walking, cycling and wheeling.
Attendees could bring their disused bike (parts) and donate them to the Turnaround Project for repurposing and reuse for people in need.
Belfast City cyclists also had the opportunity upgraded their bikes, with bike mechanics from Big Loop Bikes on site to provide free bike repair services, while the Police Service of Northern Ireland (PSNI) were present and provided bike marking for free, using the Bike Register scheme. This interactive active travel event was also a great opportunity to receive tips and advice on how to maintain your bike and prevent it from being stolen.
Finding practical ways to promote the merits of pedestrian-friendly spaces and new cycle lanes was important in supporting Belfast City centre’s transition towards sustainable transport and active travel. So too was promoting the wider benefits of living, working and relaxing in a place with less traffic congestion, less noise and cleaner air.
We planned a range of activities with partners. It was important for the planning team to make the event both practical and accessible to as many residents as possible and to host activities in a well-known open city space.
It was very impactful to have a big draw that encouraged people to attend. For our event, the centrepiece was the public launch of Translink's first zero emission all-electric double-decker bus – a first for Belfast City and Northern Ireland!
Offering services and advice was also very appealing – with bike mechanics on site to provide free bike repair services and Police Service of Northern Ireland (PSNI) to provide free bike marking to reduce the risk of bike theft.
Our advice for other cities would be to open up their public squares, to demonstrate the real and practical benefits of arriving by public transport and by walking or cycling.