AQW 25653/11-15

Mr Peter Weir
Democratic Unionist Party
North Down

Tabled Date: 12/09/2013
Answered On Date: 27/09/2013
Priority Written: No

To ask the Minister for Regional Development to outline the initiatives in place to increase the percentage of journeys taken by bicycle.

When I launched the Active Travel Strategy in January of this year I undertook to publish an Action Plan which sets out actions that will be taken by government departments, local authorities and voluntary bodies to encourage more cycling and walking.
The Action Plan which was published at the beginning of August lists many of the initiatives planned up to 2015 and includes those delivered to-date such as:
Opening of the Comber Greenway to Titanic Quarter Cycle Route;
The Northern Ireland Civil Service “Cycle to Work Scheme” which has helped 700 staff to obtain bicycles;
£2.4 million spent by my Department in providing 8km of new footway, 3.7km of cycle lanes, 22 new pelican crossings and 19 safe routes to school schemes.
My Department is also providing £4.3m to fund active travel Demonstration projects in Belfast, Londonderry, Craigavon and Strabane. I have also more recently committed £50k for my Department to undertake a Feasibility Study into a cycle / pedestrian footbridge over the River Lagan close to the gasworks site. Furthermore, my Department’s Roads Service plans to implement around 4.5km of new cycle lanes.
Another very recent initiative is The Active School Travel Programme which will provide a programme of cycle and walking skills training to pupils up to 180 schools across Northern Ireland over a three year period. The objective 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 (often safety measures at schools) to encourage participation. I aim to bid for £2m in October Monitoring to kick start this programme and I am keen to develop a long term marketing campaign to develop behavioural change.
I believe we need an increased focus on cycling if we are to keep pace. For that reason I recently announced the establishment of a new cycling unit within my Department that will answer to me directly and will co-ordinate the wide range of initiatives within my department and engage cycling bodies and groups to ensure a clear focus on delivering my ambitions for cycling
I look forward to the continuing co-operation of all interested stakeholders over the coming years to deliver our vision for walking and cycling, which is to put walking and cycling at the heart of local transport, public health and well-being.