by SEAN-PAUL DORAN
REGIONAL Development Minister Danny Kennedy is urging motorists to reduce the journeys they make by 1% this year.
The Minister today (Wednesday) launched his Department’s Active Travel Strategy, which aims to encourage communities to use other methods of travel, such as cycling or walking, wherever possible.
Speaking as he visited a Craigavon project which aims to improve infrastructure for more eco-friendly methods of travel, Mr Kennedy admitted that Northern Ireland is too reliant on cars.
“If people considered walking or cycling for seven or more short journeys, instead of using the car, this would reduce the collective distance people travel by car this year by just over 10 million miles – this equates to approximately 22 return trips to the moon,” he said.
“Northern Ireland has among the lowest levels of walking and cycling anywhere in Europe.
“The Strategy aims to put walking and cycling at the heart of our local transport arrangements, encouraging a healthier, less stressful and, increasingly, lower cost alternative to the car for many shorter daily journeys.
“The Strategy aims to increase the average distance walked and cycled here to be in line with our UK counterparts by 2020.
“An important element of the Strategy is the implementation of a number of demonstration projects. My Department is providing funding of £4.3 million over three years to support the development of these innovative projects.
“The purpose of the projects is to give a lead to local communities to generate enthusiasm to include more walking and cycling in their travel plans and to consider more sustainable alternatives to journeys by car.”