The Isle of Man Government has launched the start of a new £3.8 million Active Travel programme, to get more than 20% of people walking and cycling their everyday journeys by 2021.
Our team in the North attended the launch event at Ballakermeen High School on 8 October alongside Isle of Man ministers, leading cyclists Mark Christian, a former Ballakermeen student and Tara Ferguson, who still attends the school, pupils and teachers.
We were recruited to work on the four-year programme following the approval by the Isle of Man Parliament (Tynwald) of the Island’s first Active Travel Strategy in July. The Strategy aims to increase active travel from 14% of people who said they cycled and walked in 2011.
We will work with the Isle of Man Government to deliver changes such as improved signage, high-quality cycle routes and traffic calming. This includes officers who will work directly with local businesses, schools and communities to encourage more people to travel by foot or bicycle.
We will work initially with Ballakermeen High School to help reduce traffic congestion around peak times and look at improved junctions, signs and cycle facilities around the school.
Reactions to the programme
Minister for Education, Sport and Culture Graham Cregeen MHK said:
"I’m pleased that trials are set to take place here at Ballakermeen in relation to crossings, better signage and improved bike facilities. In addition, Sustrans will be working with us to reduce traffic issues at drop-off and pick-up times.
"I am impressed with the focus placed on bicycle maintenance, and perhaps using the skills of community groups such as Men in Sheds. This is a great idea – I’d like to see youth clubs across the Island getting involved as well, as the Active Travel programme develops."
Infrastructure Minister Ray Harmer MHK said:
"Providing ways in which people can choose to walk or cycle is at the centre of what we are trying to achieve through Active Travel, and I’m confident Sustrans will help us deliver the aims of the strategy.
"They will be getting to work immediately by committing two staff members in the Island, and looking at the ways in which schools and businesses can play their part in the process right from the start."
Rosslyn Colderley, our Director in the North said:
"Increasing everyday levels of active travel significantly benefits health and wellbeing, can boost local economies and create more pleasant local environments to live in and travel through.
"We know from our research that when better walking and cycling routes are provided, alongside community engagement programmes, uptake in cycling and walking increases dramatically.
"This is why we’re delighted that the Isle of Man Government is investing in more dedicated cycling and walking routes which help to create low traffic neighbourhoods – where riding a bike or walking become the easiest way of travelling for short journeys."
Kate Lord-Brennan, Member with responsibility for Active Travel, said:
"Enabling young people to walk and cycle to and from school will help enormously over the long-term, with regard to health benefits and general wellbeing.
"The importance of maintaining a healthy weight from an early age was highlighted in the Director of Public Health’s annual report earlier this year, and I look forward to Active Travel encouraging people to live healthier lives."