Sustrans is calling for authorities across Northern Ireland to help ‘reinvigorate’ the 23-year-old National Cycle Network (NCN).
The NCN is a network of 16,575 miles of signed routes spanning the UK, with over 1,000 miles in Northern Ireland. It is used by walkers, runners and wheelchair users, as well as people on bikes.
The charity launched a report last week which set out plans to improve the network at an event at Lagan Valley Island, hosted by Lisburn and Castlereagh City Council.
For the past two years, Sustrans has been working across the UK with partners, stakeholders, staff and volunteers to conduct a comprehensive review of the entire network in order to plan for its development into a "top-quality facility for all".
Sustrans has been engaging with the key owners of the network in Northern Ireland, the 11 councils and the Department for Infrastructure as part of the development of a Physical Review and Action Plan.
Chairman of Lisburn and Castlereagh City Council’s leisure and community development committee, alderman Paul Porter, said: “This review of the National Cycle Network by Sustrans demonstrates the benefits of regularly using the signed routes and outlines an exciting vision for the future of our cycle network.
“We are fortunate to have the popular routes of the Lagan Towpath and the Comber Greenway within our Council area and we will continue to work in partnership with Sustrans, Lagan Valley Regional Park, Lagan Navigation Trust and the Department for Infrastructure to drive further developments and initiatives forward, which will fit in with our strategic vision for Greenways in our area. Working in partnership delivers tangible results and highlights how true community planning can benefit everyone.”
Gordon Clarke, Sustrans Northern Ireland director, said: “The time is right to address shortfalls in the condition of the National Cycle Network to truly make it easier for people to walk and cycle. We know that investment in the network reaps economic benefits to the local community and opens up tourist potential. The report is also perfectly timed with the delivery of the government’s Greenways Strategy. We look forward to working with partners to expand and improve the traffic-free network of paths for all.”