GET WALKING AND ON YOUR BIKES

Chris Brennan

Reporter:

Chris Brennan

Email:

chris.brennan@newrydemocrat.com

Wednesday 20 October 2021 7:20

A MASTERPLAN, 10-year vision for Active Travel in the District, has been produced and includes many ambitious proposals.

Recommendations have been made to improve the active travel infrastructure as well as other interventions to increase uptake of cycling and walking, and making active travel a safe option for local people as well as visitors to the district.

The Masterplan recognises that the proposals are very ambitious and delivering any of them will be a significant challenge requiring funding and commitment from a range of statutory agencies.

The document went before a meeting of the Council’s ‘Active and Healthy Communities Committee’ yesterday, Monday.

Once ratified, the Masterplan will be used to inform the Council’s Active Travel Working Group and Community Planning ‘Sustainable Travel’ priority working group which includes key stakeholders such as Dfi and Translink.

In January of this year NMDDC commissioned Sustrans to produce an active Travel Masterplan for the District.

Their brief was to set out a 10-year vision for Newry, Mourne and Down as a district where cycling and walking are viable and attractive traffic choices.

Sustrans state:

”This document will provide a guidance on the development of cycling and walking infrastructure and complimentary measures over the next 10 years.

“It sets out a suite of recommendations that will drastically and radically improve conditions not only for people choosing to cycle and walk in the District, but also all residents who suffer from negative effects of too much motor vehicle traffic.

Earlier this year Council residents were invited to express their views on active travel, to inform the Council’s 10 year Active Travel Masterplan.

The survey found that there was a strong desire amongst the respondents to travel more actively more often, with 90% of respondents agreeing, “I would like to be able to use active travel more often in my area”. However, a lack of active travel infrastructure and perceptions of poor road safety hold people back with 90% agreeing, “It is not safe for children under 12 to cycle around the area”.

Overall, the majority of respondents were supportive of measures that make it easier to walk, cycle and wheel. Overall, 90% of respondents agreed with interventions to improve safety for walking, wheeling and short cycle trips, creating traffic-free cycle routes across the Council area, and increasing the amount of safe walking and cycling routes to school.

Respondents stated that road safety was a key concern and felt that speed and the volume of traffic makes it unsafe for them to walk, cycle or wheel, especially in rural areas.

Popular suggestions for improvements focused on building more linked up and accessible walking and cycling paths, traffic calming measures and road maintenance.

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