In the past two years, we have acknowledged an ever-growing commitment to increasing the provision of safe, convenient and attractive off-road cycle and walking routes throughout their area. With external funding, we have already installed a number of new active travel routes adjacent to densely populated areas. A project at New Mossley is now complete, while we are currently constructing 2 new dual-use trails, in Ballyclare and Glengormley respectively. New funding applications are now being worked up in partnership with the Department of Infrastructure (Roads), for the provision of traffic-free networks on a larger scale, which will connect neighbouring communities, in both rural and urban parts of the Borough.
The new infrastructure links key residential areas with local schools, leisure facilities and green spaces, places of work and public transport hubs. In turn, it is encouraging a higher number of users to walk or cycle in preference to the use of cars. The trails are built to a high standard with tarmac finish, and are a minimum of three metres in width. The projects will alleviate road congestion, reduce carbon emissions and ensure a cleaner air quality for our residents. It will also encourage greater participation in outdoor physical activity and thus improve the health and wellbeing of our local population.
Plans are afoot to complement the new trails by other smart measures –such as promotional initiatives and community engagement programmes (e.g. cycling training, walk/bike to school days), to be delivered by Council in partnership with relevant bodies [Travelwise team (DfI), Northern Partnership for Physical Activity (Health Trust), Sustrans, local walking groups, cycle clubs, etc., to help to stimulate increased levels of walking and cycling.
The installation of chicanes to ensure safe, shared use of some of our active travel routes, particularly on some straight sections of the trails, where cyclists may have the opportunity to speed up.
The installation of advisory / code of conduct signage should be considered.
Finally, local consultation is essential from the conception of the idea, so that concerns with regards to noise, privacy, etc. can be addressed at the design stage.