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Newry, Mourne and Down Council are to produce an Active Travel Masterplan 2021-2031 for the district.

The plan will focus on providing infrastructure to help people walk or cycle to work in a safe environment. The plan will also be used to correlate a strategic joined up approach used to develop a comprehensive cycle path network which works for local people.

Armagh Road, Newry. Photograph: Columba O'Hare

There is an obvious need to make our roads, our towns and rural areas safer for cyclists and walkers to encourage uptake of cycling and walking. The Masterplan will include an online public consultation survey to gauge opinion from local residents on their active travel needs with results considered within the development of the strategy.

A tender has been issued to appoint a Consultant to develop the 10-year Active Travel Masterplan that will look at all aspects of active travel and related initiatives across the district, including Development of a Strategic Cycle Path Network and Walking Trails. The works are expected to result in a plan of strategic routes for Newry and Downpatrick, plans for each of the 7 District Electoral Areas (DEA) as well as an Overall District Masterplan.

The Strategy is being taken forward through the Covid-19 Recovery Revitalisation Plan as jointly funded by DFC, DFI and DAERA.

The reasoning as the Tender states is that "Newry, Mourne and Down District Council has declared a Climate Emergency and will actively take action to reduce our impact on climate change as well as seek to influence others to move towards a low carbon future.
As part of this action a more sustainable low carbon approach to transport and travel is needed in the district including improvements to cycling and walking infrastructure."

The Tender continues "The mission is for the Active Travel Masterplan to steer the Council and the district towards a low carbon future for transport as well as delivering benefits to the health and well-being of local communities including promoting a more fit and active population, tackling obesity, diabetes and heart disease and promoting mental well-being. It will also improve air quality and reduce poor health and deaths resulting from air pollution particularly in urban areas."

Active travel options such as cycling and walking will form a necessary part of this solution and this will require a more focused emphasis on providing infrastructure for people to walk and cycle to work, and for leisure purposes in a safe environment.

Limited Number of. Cycle Paths

There are a limited number of cycle paths in the district mainly in urban areas but there is little connectivity across the district both within settlements and between the district’s main urban settlements. The plan will work on a more strategic, planned and joined up approach  to develop a comprehensive cycle path network which works for local people.

Tourism

The Council is keen also to develop and promote the important Tourism resource within the district by valuing and promoting the green infrastructure available to us in the district. This plan should highlight the potential to develop safe walking and cycling routes for visitors and tourists alike to use.

An implementation plan produced will deal with short term projects that could be rolled out immediately or within 12 months, medium term within next 2 or 3 years and long term routes with more complex challenges that could be in action over the next 5 to 10 years.

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