Complaints over lack of more active travel infrastructure and outdoor space in Lisburn

Concerns over a ''lack of progress'' and missed opportunity after people began to walk, run and cycle during the pandemic.

Thursday, 12th August 2021, 3:41 pm
Updated Thursday, 12th August 2021, 3:42 pm
Simon Lee, Green Party

A Lisburn and Castlereagh councillor has accused the Department for Infrastructure of failing to react to changing attitudes by not introducing more active travel infrastructure during the Covid-19 pandemic.

Green Party Cllr Simon Lee said there had been a “lack of progress” on the delivery of ‘green infrastructure’ in the council district, saying DfI had instead ‘prioritised the delivery of large scale road traffic projects’.

The call comes after an increase in the number of people choosing to walk, run and cycle during the Covid-19 pandemic, according to the Castlereagh South representative.

He said: “When we look at places like Dublin and Cork where quite rapidly and sustainably they have facilitated low traffic streets and parklets, boosting the outdoor dining economy, and delivered cycle parking and bike traffic lights at junctions, we can only look on with envy.

“The lack of progress on delivering active travel infrastructure and re-imagining outdoor space across Lisburn and Castlereagh is incredibly frustrating.

“It looks like we have squandered an opportunity to take advantage of changing attitudes and behaviours as a result of the pandemic.

“Cycling, walking and running have never been more popular, but what has been delivered, particularly in urban settings?

“We need a change in mentality, and crucially tangible progress. Business leaders are crying out for this development.

“They see it as a potential shot in the arm of a high street that badly needs reinvigorated. Bike friendly cities are thriving cities.

“With new potential sources of capital such as the ‘levelling up’ funds promised from Westminster, now is the perfect time for the devolution of regeneration powers to councils who know best what their constituencies need.”

Meanwhile, the Department said Minister Nichola Mallon remained “committed” to investing in active travel infrastructure which would ‘improve people’s health and happiness’.

A spokesperson said: “[DfI] wrote to all Councils in July seeking information on potential active travel schemes and we are liaising with the Council to identify blue / green projects that might be funded.

“The Department remains committed to working with Lisburn and Castlereagh City Council to give financial support to active travel schemes put forward by the council.

“While no pedestrianisation schemes have been identified as yet, the Department will work closely with the Council in the event of any such schemes being identified.

“The Minister is keen to provide access to safe, active and sustainable transport modes to encourage people to make environmentally responsible choices about travel.

“The Blaris Greenway is an example of making better use of existing space to better effect the physical and mental health wellbeing of people and carbon change is being addressed through carbon reduction.

“The Department has a range of other schemes (i.e. new pedestrian crossings) that it is currently developing.”