Work is underway in Ballymoney to improve the town’s network of traffic-free routes for pedestrians and cyclists, including improvements to the new Joey Dunlop Leisure Centre [JDLC] Greenway.
Residents living in Cherry Gardens, Shandon Park & Myrtle Park will see improved access to the Greenway, making it easier and safer to make everyday journeys in Ballymoney on foot or by bike, and in particular improving access for wheelchair users and those with young children in prams or buggies.
When complete, the project will provide new links directly to the JDLC, shops, schools, Ballymoney Station, Riverside Park and the expanding residential areas to the south of the town.
The scheme is part of a UK-wide project from charity Sustrans, funded thanks to a £50million grant from the Big Lottery Fund, adding new links for pedestrians and cyclists in communities across the UK. Funding is also coming from Translink, DRD Roads Service and Ballymoney Borough Council.
The routes will become part of Sustrans’ National Cycle Network [NCN], and link to the existing NCN 96, which travels from Coleraine in the North down to Lough Neagh.
Rick Cook, Sustrans’ NCN Manager in Northern Ireland, said: “It’s fantastic to see more work underway in Ballymoney, when complete the new links will make a real difference to how people get around town for their everyday journeys.
“We know that 20% of our journeys are under 1-mile in length, so there is huge scope for an increase in walking and cycling for our everyday travel. These new traffic-free links will make it safer for people to get out and about, as well as providing direct routes.”
The centrepiece of the new scheme will be a new pedestrian and cycling bridge over the railway at Ballymoney Station, which is due to be constructed in 2012.
A new section of shared-use path is now being built to link to the leisure centre, alongside new signage and a brand new bike shelter at the JDLC.
Ballymoney Mayor and Steering Group Chairperson, Councillor Ian Stevenson, said, “We are delighted to see this next phase of works underway which will provide good quality local links onto the Greenway and deliver cyclists and pedestrians directly to the door of the Leisure Centre. The scheme will open up greater access links at a local level improving the quality of life of all our local residents. It is a fantastic resource and fully complements the existing links and the much- awaited shared use bridge over the railway.”
The new routes will all be added to Sustrans’ on-line mapping service, which is now on iPhone, allowing people on the move to plot their route on the NCN. Search for “The complete National Cycle Network” in the app store, for the completely free app.
Sustrans and Ballymoney Borough Council have been working together to help promote cycling in the town. The council held a successful week of events during the recent Bike Week, including led rides of varying distances and special fun sessions encouraging kids to cycle more.
Travelwise Northern Ireland and the Northern Health and Social Care Trust Sustrans recently helped to train more experienced local cyclists in how to train cycling novices, or those returning to bicycle use. Now one of these cyclists, Annette Scott is a funded cycle instructor, passing on tips to local schoolchildren as well as training a group of women one night a week.
Patricia Wallace, Sustrans’ Community Connector in Northern Ireland, said, “It is so satisfying seeing people I trained last year, training others this year, this has been a significant development in Ballymoney, the best people to deliver cycle training are local people themselves. This relatively small amount of funding will have a big impact.”
The Sustrans website - www.sustrans.org.uk - has a free online map service to discover how to get around everyday on foot or by bike. Search for local or national routes, plot journeys, or find what the local area has to offer from schools, supermarkets and local landmarks to car clubs, bus stops and bike shops.