There are now over a thousand miles of National Cycle Network (NCN) in Northern Ireland which are enjoyed by many different users, from cyclists and joggers to dog walkers and families.
With this rising popularity there has been an increase in complaints from path users about the behaviour of other users. For example, joggers complaining about cyclists or cyclists complaining about dog walkers. Issues about conflict on greenways occur across the UK and have led to some councils painting lines on the path or erecting signage which has had little effect.
We are therefore embarking on a pilot project called the One Path Initiative to encourage users to share the path and respect each other by engaging with a wide range of people through creative activities. The pilot will take place on the Comber Greenway, which runs from east Belfast to Comber, throughout the summer and begins with a series of focus groups to explore the problems and come up with solutions. Xavier Brice, Sustrans' incoming Chief Executive, visited Belfast and helped to launch the initiative.
“ The principle behind the initiative is to create a positive culture for everyone to ‘share, respect and enjoy’ the paths. ”
The Comber Greenway is typical of many routes, cutting through three council areas with shared responsibilities. The path is owned by the Department for Infrastructure and cuts through Belfast City Council, Lisburn and Castlereagh City Council and Ards and North Down Borough Council. All four organisations have funded the initiative and are keen to develop a positive ethos of sharing the path to improve relations between different path users.
Steven Patterson, Sustrans Northern Ireland Deputy Director said:
“We are looking forward to engaging with the public on the issues and facilitating them to come up with some creative solutions. We know that in other parts of the Network a response such as imposing speed limits, segregation of paths or adding signage outlining a list of rules impedes one group of users and leaves them feeling targeted, causing further tensions between users.
“The principle behind the initiative is to create a positive culture for everyone to ‘share, respect and enjoy’ the paths.”