Workers in east Belfast are being surveyed on their travel habits as part of a new European project to improve air quality and promote alternatives to the car.
Whether you drive, walk, car share, use public transport or cycle, Sustrans wants to hear how employees travel to work.
East Belfast is the UK focus of a €4.4m programme which aims to tackle high levels of air pollution caused by car traffic in North-West Europe and promote alternative options for commuters.
Improving air quality in Belfast
The Upper Newtownards Road from the North Road junction to the Ulster Hospital in Dundonald is one of four Air Quality Management Areas in Belfast because it exceeds nitrogen dioxide levels, a pollutant mainly caused by road traffic.
The CHIPS project (Cycle Highways Innovation for Smarter People Transport and Spatial Planning) will see Belfast collaborate with the Netherlands and Belgium, Germany and the Republic of Ireland over the next three years.
Sustrans is delivering the project in Belfast, where there are two traffic-free greenways, and will focus on supporting and enabling people to cycle to work or use more sustainable transport.
“ We're delighted to contribute to Sustrans’ research and to support schemes which encourage more sustainable methods of transport, particularly when travelling to and from work. ”
The first step in this process is a short survey which companies – large and small, from all sectors in east Belfast – are being asked to distribute to their workforces.
To date, Asda, the Ulster Hospital, and Stormont estate are among over 20 employers with several thousand staff who have signed up to take part in the survey. The survey is live from 3 to 23 October, with results gathered by early November.
Encouraging active travel to work
The project depends on active travel champions in the workplace promoting and encouraging active travel and public transport among staff. One high-profile travel champion is Finance Minister Máirtín Ó Muilleoir, who is responsible for the Stormont estate and helped establish Ciclovia – the traffic-free event in Belfast.
Minister Ó Muilleoir said: “I’m a big proponent of active travel, but I know it’s not always easy for busy people to make the change to cycling or using public transport for their daily commute. This survey will help Sustrans find out what the barriers are to making those changes and I would encourage all staff working in Stormont Estate to get involved and give their views on their daily commute and what they think can be done to improve their travel to, from and through East Belfast.”
This survey will help Sustrans find out what the barriers are to making those changes.
“ This survey will help Sustrans find out what the barriers are to making those changes. ”
Joe McDonald, Corporate Affairs Manager, Asda NI said: “Sustainability is very important to Asda as it impacts on all aspects of our business. As a major employer in East Belfast we’re delighted to contribute to Sustrans’ research and to support schemes which encourage more sustainable methods of transport, particularly when travelling to and from work.”
East Belfast Assembly Member and keen cyclist, Sammy Douglas, said: “Congratulations to Sustrans for initiating the excellent CHIPS project which aims to make real improvements to people’s travel in the area. With commuters facing congestion and pollution on our roads, we want to encourage more sustainable transport such as cycling. I would encourage everyone to fill in the survey.”
Chris Lyttle, Chair of the All-Party Cycling Group at Stormont and Alliance MLA for East Belfast, added his support to the project. “This has the potential to make a real improvement to the commute by reducing traffic congestion in East Belfast,” he said. “I hope that the Dundonald area in particular will benefit from the Ulster Hospital partnership with Sustrans to encourage staff to take public transport, cycle or walk to work. I would encourage everyone to take a short time to complete the survey to help ensure this project is a success.”
Pamela Grove-White, Sustrans Active Travel Officer said: “We’ve had a great response from a wide variety of employers in east Belfast. There is still time to get involved in the project and take part in the survey which will give us an understanding of employees’ travel habits.”
To enable your workforce to take part in the survey please contact Pamela Grove-White at Sustrans in Belfast on 028 90434569 or get in touch via email
Find out more about the Cycle Highways Innovation for Smarter People Transport and Spatial Planning (CHIPS) project