Belfast Telegraph

Stormont resignation saw Danny Kennedy miss out on a top cycling award but now Belfast Telegraph has recognised his efforts

By Linda Stewart

He was one of the first politicians to pull out of the Executive this autumn, precipitating the current crisis.

And, as a result, former Transport Minister Danny Kennedy has missed out on a major UK cycling award that would have recognised his efforts to get Northern Irish people onto their bikes.

The Ulster Unionist MLA had been shortlisted for the prestigious Cycle Champion award in the Cycling Planning Awards in London.

But despite the judges giving a glowing commendation to the former Transport Minister at the plush event in London's Walthamstow Assembly Hall, they went on to say that Mr Kennedy was no longer eligible to win as he was no longer in his post.

Instead he was pipped at the finish line by Councillor Clyde Loakes of Waltham Forest Council.

But the Belfast Telegraph last night made sure the 'Cycling Minister' didn't miss out due to the twists and turns of the political rollercoaster.

We went to Stormont to present our own award recognising the amazing work he has been doing to try to spark a cycling revolution across Northern Ireland.

These measures include providing funding for four active travel demonstration projects, the Belfast bike hire scheme, more than 10km of rejuvenated cycleways in Craigavon, a cycling bridge in Strabane and 3km of new traffic-free greenways in Derry. Most recently he published a Bicycle Strategy proposing a £12.5 million investment in new greenways and cycle routes to bring the province into line with cycling havens like Denmark and The Netherlands.

Judge Carlton Reid said fellow judge Phillip Darnton had paid tribute at the awards to the inspirational cycling projects Mr Kennedy had undertaken during his tenure.

"Then he said 'However, he has resigned and that makes him ineligible, because he is no longer in post',".

"Something comes along which is a technicality and no longer being in post is a big technicality.

"It does seem a shame that he didn't get it," Mr Reid said.

Sustainable transport charity Sustrans said it was delighted that Mr Kennedy had been shortlisted by the Cycle Planning Awards.

Gordon Clarke, Director for Sustrans Northern Ireland said: "Minister Kennedy has earned and fully deserves this recognition. We are at the start of a process and while there is still much more to do in Northern Ireland, this award acknowledges the significant work that is being done by the DRD.

"The Minister set up a Cycling Unit and initiated a Bicycle Strategy for Northern Ireland. This is a 25-year programme for increasing the bicycle as a mode of transport for everyday journeys. Sustrans believes this can only happen through improved infrastructure and behaviour change, and we hope Government will support both of these sufficiently to cement his vision of a cycling culture in Northern Ireland.

"In a difficult funding environment we would urge the next Transport Minister to fully support and fund the cycling revolution, which has the potential to benefit everyone and every department."

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