Belfast Telegraph

New unit to focus on cycle promotion - Kennedy

Stormont Executive press release - Department for Regional Development

Transport Minister Danny Kennedy said today he wants to see a cycling revolution in Northern Ireland as he outlined plans to encourage people to get on their bikes.

As a first step, a dedicated cycle unit will be established in the Department for Regional Development to develop infrastructure plans. The new unit will work closely with organisations such as Sustrans, who have been recently contracted to promote cycling and walking in schools, as well as other cycling stakeholders such as the National Cycling Charity (CTC). The Giro D’Italia programme in the next year provides my department and others with an important opportunity to take this forward.

The Minister said: “As Transport Minister, my key focus is on the movement of people and goods across Northern Ireland, whether that is by car, public transport, bike or on foot.

“My Department currently has a dedicated unit to promote more active forms of travel generally however I think we need to add to that and resource and focus very directly on cycling plans.

“I feel more needs to be done for Northern Ireland to close the gap on other European cities in promoting cycling.

“I believe we need an increased focus on cycling if we are to keep pace with other countries and this requires focus and drive. I want interested stakeholders to work with the Department to develop robust and sustainable strategies.”

Referring to a recent announcement that a number of English cities and national parks are to share a major investment in cycling, the Minister said the time was now right for a greater focus on cycling here.

Danny Kennedy said: “This new unit will work closely with other government departments and key stakeholders to make sure cycling promotion is effective and co-ordinated. Safety is a major issue for cyclists and ensuring they can travel safely, especially around the city centre and on busy roads will be one of the main areas of focus. We will of course have to look at ways of investing in better infrastructure to support this.

“I previously announced a £50,000 feasibility study for a Lagan Cycle Bridge and the new unit will be tasked with developing similar proposals and working with the All party group on cycling to develop a strategy.”

During the incoming year, the Minister said he will be providing over £4million to fund active travel demonstration projects in Belfast, Londonderry, Craigavon and Strabane.

The Minister said: “A great deal has already been achieved under the Active Travel strategy. The action plan for the next few years sets out measures that will be taken by government departments, local authorities and voluntary bodies to encourage more cycling and walking and less dependency on private cars.

“In addition, my department also has plans to introduce around 4.5km of new cycle lanes.”

As part of The Active School Travel Programme, a range of cycle and walking skills training will be provided to pupils in 60 schools across Northern Ireland over a three year period.

He said: “The aim of this programme is to encourage school pupils to adopt cycling and walking as their main mode of transport to and from school. We need to support this programme with investment in infrastructure including safety measures at schools, to encourage participation.

“Cycling is a great way to boost health for people of all ages and it is vital that the right infrastructure is in place to enable this to happen. With the Giro d’Italia coming here next year, we must make the most of this wonderful opportunity to promote cycling and encourage more people to get on their bikes.”

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