Newry.ie

The appointment of a new 'walking and cycling Champion' by the Department For Infrastructure could well herald the beginning of a new health and well-being centred, post Covid-19 future in Newry and surrounds.

Infrastructure Minister Nichola Mallon announced the new walking and cycling Champion today 5 May, with a clear focus on transforming communities and developing creative solutions to support our new way of living during and post COVID-19. One proposal would see 'Quiet Streets’ where pedestrians, cyclists and play have priority and motor vehicles are guests.

The mission is to increase the percentage of journeys made by bicycle and on foot with the provision of new safe spaces made by extending pavements, pedestrianising streets and introducing pop up cycle lanes.

The Carlingford Lough Greenway is and amazing resource for Newry but it should be linked up to the Newry Canal Towpath. Photograph: Columba O'Hare/ Newry.ie
The Carlingford Lough Greenway is and amazing resource for Newry but it should be linked up to the Newry Canal Towpath. Photograph: Columba O'Hare/ Newry.ie

Addressing the Assembly, Minister Mallon said “I am delighted to announce that there will now be a walking and cycling Champion within my Department. Our champion will ensure that we deliver our commitment to increase the percentage of journeys made by walking and cycling. Inspiring our communities, restructuring our spaces, changing forever the way we live – and changing it for the better.

“I want to increase the space available for people who want to walk and cycle by extending pavements, pedestrianising streets and introducing pop up cycle lanes. I have already identified some parts of Belfast City Centre and Derry City that can be transformed in this way and I intend to work with councils to identify more areas across the North as a matter of urgency. Changing how we use our spaces will transform communities right across Northern Ireland – creatively change lives – enable social distancing and encourage health and mental wellbeing."

Regarding safe spaces for cycling and walking at present, Newry has the Newry Canal Towpath and the Carlingford Lough Greenway but there is no connection between the two.

Although cycle racks are positioned throughout Newry there is no road or path infrastructure for a safe space for cycling in the city.
Although cycle racks are positioned throughout Newry there is no road or path infrastructure for a safe space for cycling in the city.

In the 1980's an area of Hill Street was pedestrianised but presently the only pedestrianised area runs a very short length of Marcus Street!

There are no paths in the city centre for cyclists. The sole facility for cyclists are cycle racks placed around the city in Monaghan Street, Catherine Street, Newry Town Hall and Hill Street. 

A cycle path runs from McCann's Corner on the Armagh Road to Barrack Street, before disappearing. Another short path runs from the Warrenpoint Road to River Street again stopping abrubtly. Cycle paths are also installed on the hard shoulder of the Warrenpoint dual carriageway although with fast moving traffic, debris and stones on the path, they can feel far from safe. 

Minister Mallon speaking of greener, cleaner, healthier and happier people and places added “This environmental and public health work will be done on a collaborative basis, with an action group, formed from both within and outside government. I also want to work in collaboration with communities, including identifying and creating ‘Quiet Streets’ where pedestrians, cyclists and play have priority and motor vehicles are guests.

“As the Executive looks this week to review the lockdown – we all need to be looking ahead – out of the darkness of this pandemic and into a better world that we need to build for ourselves. Greener, cleaner, healthier and happier people and places must be our aim as we learn to live with this new normal during and after Covid-19.”

 

 

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