Yesterday’s Regional Development Questions at the Northern Ireland Assembly touched on the issue of developing the Comber Greenway. This popular and successful urban/rural greenway which links into the heart of Belfast has served as inspiration for such projects as the Great Western Greenway in Mayo.
In recent years the development of the Connswater Community Greenway has provided walking and cycling paths in East Belfast of a significantly higher quality than the Comber Greenway.
Laying a ribbon of light through the winter gloom, the @ConnswaterCG is a 24/7 community asset #Belfast pic.twitter.com/jSUVYxHnsp
— NI Greenways (@nigreenways) December 14, 2014
This has increased pressure on the Department for Regional Development (DRD) to invest in the Comber Greenway. Ideas range from essential projects such as lighting the urban sections to increase subjective safety and usage in winter, to more strategic plans such as extending the route into Comber town centre and beyond.
The @combergreenway offers a decent incentive to switch from car to bicycle – until dark winter rush hours.. pic.twitter.com/RawlsELCFT
— NI Greenways (@nigreenways) December 13, 2014
Robin Newton (DUP, East Belfast) asked Minister Michelle McIlveen if she recognised the potential of the Comber Greenway.
“[The Comber Greenway] is close to my heart, given that it falls within my constituency. There is tremendous potential in developing greenways across Northern Ireland, and not just the Comber Greenway. I am keen to harness that potential to deliver a network that provides safe and convenient traffic-free routes in order to increase sustainable travel and opportunities to improve health and well-being by using recreational areas such as that. I was recently in Edinburgh and Holland, where I was able to see what they have made of their greenways and their potential.
“I am developing a strategic plan for greenways across Northern Ireland. The Comber Greenway has potential, given the large catchment area and the links to the new Connswater Community Greenway, which I also had the opportunity to visit recently.”
Is it the Minister’s intention that the Comber Greenway comes up to the same standard as the Connswater Greenway?
“Of course I would like that to be the case. As he said, I visited the Connswater Greenway. It really is something very special, and I recommend anyone who has not had the opportunity to see that work as it progresses to go to the area. In the first instance, I see opportunities for enhancements in lighting on the Comber Greenway and for better signage and links to communities off the greenway. I want to explore the best way to do that and, for the Comber Greenway in particular, greater links with councils. I have given my support to a Sustrans application for EU funding to increase usage of the Comber Greenway, and I hope to see the benefits of that.
Comber Greenway: Potential (AQT 3533/11-16) Northern Ireland Assembly
The Comber Greenway should receive plenty of attention when DRD’s two big plans – the Belfast Bicycle Network and the Greenway Strategy – in the next few months. It is an impressive leisure and commuting facility, but needs sympathetic investment to take it on to the next level.
Cargobike Dad has more on the implications of upgrading the Comber Greenway both in terms of design and investment required.
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