First Northern Ireland travel hub created in drive to get people out of cars
The first Active Travel Hub in Northern Ireland is being launched at east Belfast's CS Lewis Square this morning.
The EU-funded project, aimed at encouraging commuters to switch from cars to greener travel methods, will run from a modern container-style office in the EastSide Partnership's new Pocket Park off the Newtownards Road.
The previously derelict site has been transformed with landscaping, planting, street furniture and three shipping containers for a variety of uses.
Walking and cycling charity Sustrans, which will run the CHIPS (Cycle Highways Innovation for Smarter People Transport and Spatial Planning) project from the Hub, says it also plans to establish a bike service next door and will provide secure cycle storage units using smart technology beside the new Belfast Rapid Transit stop on the nearby Newtownards Road.
Gordon Clarke, Sustrans Northern Ireland Director, said it aims to promote active travel.
"It made sense to base the hub at CS Lewis Square, where the Comber and Connswater greenways intersect," he said. "The CHIPS project focuses in particular on encouraging cycling commuters to use the Comber Greenway as part of their journey to work. By encouraging people to walk, cycle or use public transport, the project's aim is to improve air quality as part of a wider EU project across North West Europe. The area between North Road and the Ulster Hospital is an Air Quality Management Area, where frequently the level of pollution, caused mainly by road traffic, is unacceptably high."
Sustrans Engagement Officers Pamela Grove-White and Martha Robb will be based in the hub and will work to encourage 10,000 employees along the east Belfast corridor to try active travel.
Pamela said they want to encourage alternatives to travelling by car to work.
"We have been working with many large employers including the Ulster Hospital, Bombardier and the Belfast Metropolitan College, as well as smaller employers such as the Holywood Arches health centre, to encourage staff to cycle, walk or take the bus to work," she said. "Our overall aim is to help more people try alternatives to the car to reduce the high levels of air pollution in this part of the city."
Maurice Kinkead, Chief Executive of EastSide Partnership, added: "We are delighted that Sustrans has chosen to base their Active Travel Hub in the new Pocket Park."