Bike ownership '˜is the highest in NI' - report

Residents in the Lisburn and Castlereagh council area are getting on their bikes with a new report revealing it has the highest percentage of bike ownership in Northern Ireland.

According to the Cycling in Northern Ireland 2016/2017 report 36% of those surveyed in the council area own a bicycle, this was the highest percentage of ownership.

This is compared to the lowest, which was Mid Ulster District Council with 14%

Mayor of Lisburn and Castlereagh, Councillor Tim Morrow - a keen cyclist - told the Star that cycling is proving very popular in the borough, he said: “It is great news because I think it is a really good way to keep yourself in shape.

“It’s good to hear we have a high ownership of bikes, I would encourage people to take it up, which would take more traffic off the roads as well.”

However Councillor Morrow believes facilities and cycle routes across Lisburn and beyond need to improved, he added: “There is a lot more to be done to help with the provision for cyclists, but it is not just Lisburn and Castlereagh it’s across Northern Ireland we need better links.

“I know Sustrans are doing their best to bring some of the cycle paths together so people can get right around without having to use as few roads as possible.

“Also to introduce more cycle paths and as council we would be keen to look at that in any way we can.

“Looking at the future, it’s part of our remit to encourage people out of their cars onto other forms of transport and cycling is certainly one of those.

“All of these things cost money and will be done gradually rather than all at once, certainly hope we will be able to make cycling safer so more people feel it is an appropriate method of transport for them to get to schools.”

A spokesperson for Sustrans said: “Sustrans welcomes the Department for Infrastructure gathering and reporting statistics on cycling. Given the growing evidence of the benefits of cycling to our health and as a means to reduce congestion, it is vital to have an accurate picture of cycling in order to develop it as an everyday mode of transport.

“It is interesting to see that bicycle ownership was highest in Lisburn & Castlereagh District Council. This could be because of the amount of traffic-free green ways in this area such as the Comber Green way and the Lagan Towpath, both popular National Cycle Network (NCN) routes. We are seeing more and more people commuting to work by bike in this area, thanks to a number of behaviour change projects such as the European-funded CHIPS project. We believe that it is important to build both the infrastructure to encourage cycling, particularly protected cycle lanes and also support behaviour change programmes to get people to try cycling.”

You can read more about it on Sustrans website and find NCN routes throughout Northern Ireland.