Published: 18th JUNE 2024

‘Try an E-Bike’ at Cathedral Gardens Hub a most enjoyable experience’ – David’s story

‘Try an E-Bike’ is one of the most popular activities we offer in Northern Ireland. The Cathedral Gardens Hub, where we delivered activities during a two-year pilot scheme funded by the Public Health Agency and Ulster University and managed by Belfast City Council, offered the service to people living, working and studying in Belfast city centre.

A man wearing a helmet and hi-vis jacket stands with an electric bicycle outside an active travel hub in Belfast city centre.

David Watkiss, who works close to Cathedral Gardens Hub in Belfast city centre, pictured with the electric bike he borrowed. Credit: Sustrans

Among them was landscape architect, David Watkiss. He was able to take an e-bike out on loan while he considers the purchase of a new bicycle. 

David said: “I heard about Sustrans and the Cathedral Gardens Hub through a friend who often tells me about the benefits of travelling to work on his bicycle. 

“The Sustrans scheme was very good in that it encourages and enables more people to get on their bikes, to get active and to use active travel for daily commutes. 

“They provide cycle training and bike maintenance and repair workshops. 


Support from Sustrans 

“The Cathedral Gardens Hub houses a range of bicycles available free of charge to adults participating in Sustrans activities who do not have their own bikes.  

“I am currently looking for a new bike and when the opportunity arose, with Sustrans support I was able to try out an e-bike to see the difference for myself.  

“The e-bike was fitted with panniers so any baggage, such as my laptop, was safely stored in weatherproof conditions. 


E-bike excelled at tackling hills 

“The bike is set up with very good mudguards and deflected all rain from the wheels ensuring a positively (almost) dry arrival at work each day. 

“The e-bike excelled when heading home each evening, tackling several hills and making the journey very enjoyable whilst working through the various settings of Eco, Sports, Tourer and Turbo for the steeper climbs encountered. 

“A most enjoyable experience resulting in more of my travel time by bicycle. 

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I am invigorated and feel a great sense of accomplishment when cycling - infinitely more rewarding than driving. Blockquote quotation marks

“I cycle because it is a very empowering and social mode of transport. 

“Cycling provides the opportunity to engage with and to become more acquainted with the local environment. 

“It’s a great opportunity to embrace the great outdoors and to connect both with neighbours and nature. 

“I am invigorated and feel a great sense of accomplishment when cycling - infinitely more rewarding than driving. 


Greater independence and efficient time and money saver 

“Cycling offers cyclists great independence and is a most efficient time saver. 

“Plus, there are significant financial benefits and, with the availability for any sustainability-conscious organisation, there is the Cycle to Work scheme to make further savings. 

“I support Sustrans as Sustrans supports cyclists. Keep up the good work!” 

Cathedral Gardens Active Travel Hubs are on an open square next to the Ulster University Belfast campus.

Cathedral Gardens Active Travel Hub in Belfast. Credit: Sustrans

Improvement ideas for the future 

David would like to see the following ideas implemented to encourage and support active travel: 

  • A complete rethink of existing and new cycling strategies across all Northern Ireland cities. 
  • Better cycle infrastructure on all roads. 
  • More designated segregated cycle paths. 
  • Introduction of 20 mile per hour zones throughout Belfast. 

Find out more about our active travel hubs.


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