Northern Ireland is poised to allocate 10% of the government’s transport budget to projects for active transport, under an Active Travel Act mooted during the country’s recent election campaign.
The proposed legislation has received widespread support from Northern Ireland’s political parties and, in the wake of the 5th May election, politicians have pledged to ensure the Act is promptly implemented.
Returning Sinn Féin Member Philip McGuigan pledged to introduce the proposed legislation as a Private Members Bill if there isn’t sufficient progress from the Department for Infrastructure.
The Act and 10% Budget commitment was part of three pledges that were formulated by Cycling UK and have been signed by more than half of the winning candidates from last month’s election:
Investment in Cycling, Walking and Wheeling – introduce an Active Travel Act, and commit 10% of the transport budget to active travel.
Safety on our roads – bring in lower speed limits and prioritise cycling in the new Road Safety Strategy.
Connect where people live, to where they work, learn and play – through safe cycle lanes and improved space for bikes on public transport.
Advocacy organisation Cycling UK claims “active travel was the real winner in this election”.
During a community Q&A session with candidates from the six major parties, they agreed unanimously to a number of proposals in the Bill, including 20mph (32kmh) speed limits in residential neighbourhoods and the need to reduce the dominance of the car in town and city centres.
Cycling UK says it will be contacting candidates and parties to remind them of their pledges, and, “when an Assembly is formed, we will be asking all ministerial departments in the executive to build walking, wheeling and cycling into their plans”.
“We will be calling for the Minister to immediately begin the implementation of an Active Travel Act, making active travel a statutory consideration for Stormont, Councils and Ministerial Departments,” it says in a statement.
“We will be presenting our thoughts on what the Act should contain through consultation with the architects of the Act in Wales, local campaigners, and groups representing walking, wheeling and cycling across Northern Ireland.
“Lastly, we will be campaigning to ensure the 10% commitment of the transport budget going on active travel is not only allocated and spent, but spent meaningfully, in a way that will allow people to consider using alternative forms of transport.”