The appalling tragedy earlier this week of a young girl being killed by a bus in Belfast city centre was an accident waiting to happen. Royal Avenue and Donegall Place are deathtraps. I don't know how many times I've had to weave in between vehicles just to get across from one side to the other while doing a spot of shopping. There's only one pedestrian crossing on a stretch of main street that must run for at least half a mile. Where else in Europe would this be the case? Can you imagine Grafton Street having traffic careering down the middle of it?
For a long time I've thought that Donegall Place could become a focal point for Belfast if it was closed off and pedestrianised. It would provide a great open space that could accommodate cafés, stalls and entertainment. Not to mention safety for shoppers.
Belfast has come on a lot in recent years- the winter market at City Hall and Victoria Square are great additions. But it needs to think about the bigger picture if it's going to compete with other cities such as Edinburgh and Dublin. Having narrow paths and a busy road on the main shopping street is not a good thing. Keeping shops closed until one o'clock in the afternoon on a Sunday is not a good thing. It time for Belfast to think about what's best for the people who live in the city and those who are visiting.