Belfast East Election Cycle 2017

When you go to vote on Thursday 2nd March 2017 in Belfast East cycling might not be your top priority, but where candidates stand might have a bearing on where you place your preferences. We contacted all of the candidates standing for election to the Northern Ireland Assembly – below you can see if they responded and what they think of our ask:

Will you commit to invest at least £10 per head of population on cycling measures and pledge to support and build upon the urban and rural cycling strategies launched since August 2015?

Andy Allen (UUP)

Once again, I am happy to pledge my support to the asks of Investment, Greenways and Legislation to deliver the vision for transport development over the next 25 years

“Increasing active travel will play an important role in making our vision of a healthier and happier society a reality.

“We are convinced of the benefits and are committed to promoting cycling as a feasible mode of transport for everyday journeys, however we acknowledge that to do this effectively we need to create the conditions that make this viable and safe.

“During our time in the Department of Regional Development, our Party kick started the beginning of the process, setting out an ambitious vision for the future.

“Whilst some great work has already been carried out the next Minister and Executive must continue to develop the infrastructure that will help to nurture a culture of cycling.

“Furthermore we would given the obvious benefits to public health, and the environment;

  • Realise the vision set out in the 25-year bicycle strategy
  • Support the development and implementation of a network of traffic-free cycling infrastructure
  • Support accommodation of active travel being a consideration in planning new developments”

Sheila Bodel (Conservatives)

“Cycling is something that many of the members of my party enjoy. You many have seen on our twitter page that one of our members was cycling during our canvassing on Saturday.

“I would be supportive of encouraging cycling in our community as it’s cleaner, cheaper and healthier.

“I would like to work with you further on this issue.”

Joanne Bunting (DUP)

“I’m happy to say yes!”

Séamas de Faoite (SDLP)

“You can count on my support!”

David Douglas (DUP)

“Thanks for your email. I am fully supportive of the Bicycle strategy for Northern Ireland, want to see more investment in cycling infrastructure and the means to encourage greater uptake of cycling across all age groups. I believe much more should be done to promote cycling across NI as a sustainable mode of transport that has many benefits including improved health and well-being and should be seen as an important resource to tackle growing problems of obesity and mental ill-health.

“I would like to see more initiatives involving local communities such as cycle to work days, the expansion of the important role that Sustrans NI carries out with schools, the promotion of flagship projects including the Comber Greenway and Connswater Community Greenway as well as the development of community cycling hubs.

“From a political perspective, the NI Assembly should appoint a ‘Cycling Tsar’. Their role would be to promote and foster cycling as a means to attract tourism, encourage health and wellbeing and link the many strategies that currently exist locally and nationally.  I would also like to see Stormont take the lead in establishing cycling hubs within the Stormont estate to encourage usage by MLAs, the thousands of civil service staff, visitors and tourists.”

Andrew Girvin (TUV)

No response so far.

John Kyle (PUP)

“Short version – yes. It may take a couple of PFGs to get up to £10 per head but that would be our clear objective. To go there immediately in next PFG might be too big an ask in the current economic circumstances but I would commit to a substantial increase with the goal of reaching £10 per head by next PFG.

“I acknowledge that the economic return exceeds the investment when health environmental and tourism benefits are calculated not to mention  improvements in traffic flow and the positive impact on quality of life.”

Naomi Long (Alliance)

“Alliance is a vocal advocate of promoting cycling and walking in Northern Ireland.

We believe that there are significant environmental and health benefits to enable people to undertake short journeys by foot or bike.

Accordingly, Alliance would:

  • Ensure appropriate investment to build upon rural/urban cycling strategies.
  • Develop an Active Travel Bill to promote cycling and walking
  • Fully implement the 25-year Cycling Strategy, with appropriate investment.
  • Adopting sustainable travel plans to make it easier for cyclists and walkers to get about town. We will especially promote safe cycle routes with bicycle storage and suitable pavements with road crossings to encourage walking.
  • Create a cycling and walking ‘greenway’ network across Northern Ireland.
  • Work with schools to promote active travel to and from school.

Chris Lyttle (Alliance)

“Yes, Yes and Yes to election cycle 2017 policy positions.”

Jordy McKeag (Independent)

No response so far.

Georgina Milne (Green)

“Thank you for your email asking me to pledge to encourage cycling by investing at least £10 per head of population on cycling measures, and to support and build upon the urban and rural cycling strategies. I am, of course, delighted to do so. I am a commuter cyclist on-and-off myself and I greatly value the cycling infrastructure.

“As you may have seen, our election manifesto specifically commits us to Increase spending on cycle infrastructure throughout Northern Ireland to the value of £25 per person. In addition, we are committing to:

  • Rebalance transport spending towards public transport and active travel, such as cycling and walking
  • Encourage cycling by supporting moves to expand greenways
  • Introduce a module on awareness of cyclists and pedestrians as part of the driving test
  • Allow contra-flow cycling in specifically signed, one-way streets with low volumes of traffic, as is the norm in most European cities
  • Promote health through the provision of safe walking and cycling routes, public parks, playgrounds, pitches, swimming pools and leisure centres.

“You may be aware one of the key issues we are focussing on in our election campaign is the dreadful waste of resources by the Northern Ireland Executive. Addressing waste in public spending could easily provide the funds to improve the infrastructure for cycling and active travel.

“East Belfast has benefitted greatly from our wonderful Greenways, and I am very supportive of their protection and expansion.

“If I am elected as MLA for East Belfast I would be happy to meet with you to discuss further how we can promote cycling and active travel in Northern Ireland.”

Robin Newton (DUP)

No response so far.

Máiréad O’Donnell  (Sinn Féin)

“I can confirm that Sinn Féin supports your 3 key asks as detailed below:

  • Investment: Sinn Féin supports funding for cycling of at least £10 per head of population, so as to encourage safer cycling conditions and see more people start cycling
  • Greenways: Sinn Féin supports the Greenways Strategy and the development of traffic-free greenways across the country to boost rural regeneration and tourism.
  • Legislation: Sinn Féin supports the introduction of an Active Travel Act to incorporate cycling and walking provision into land-use planning and new developments.

“Post-election I look forward to continuing to work with you and your colleagues as we seek to emphasise the health and social benefits of cycling.”

Courtney Robinson (CCLA)

“I would like to pledge support for this initiative and for proper infrastructure for cycling.”

Read more about Election Cycle 2017.

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