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Investment in walking and cycling will have a positive impact says Better Ennis

A NEW Ennis based community group advocating for “healthy and happy streets” believe investment in walking and cycling infrastructure in the proposed Programme for Government will have a positive impact on public health and the local economy.
The proposed Programme for Government includes a ring-fenced investment of €360m in walking and cycling infrastructure throughout Ireland. Better Ennis have welcomed what it describes as a “serious investment” in active travel infrastructure.
The Programme for Government includes the commitment to develop a national network of greenways – not only as tourist amenities, but designed and implemented so that they can be used by students, commuters and people enjoying cycling as their daily physical exercise.
There is a focus on increasing the numbers of children walking and cycling to school and Better Ennis say will have a “huge positive impact” in reducing traffic within Ennis town.
“It is important that the active travel infrastructure is well designed, implemented, and maintained, and in that regard, the establishment of Regional Cycle Design Offices to support local authorities is very welcome,” said Síle Ginnane, a co-founder of Better Ennis. “The value of proper networks of footpaths and cycleways, fully accessible to people with disabilities, is hugely important to our physical and mental health.”
Chairperson of Galway Cycling Campaign, Kevin Jennings, emphasised the significance of the increase of funding from 2% to 10% for cycling. “A commitment of 10% for cycling in the land transport budget could help change transport in Ireland. The new government radio ads asking us to cycle and walk where possible are a first that I can recall. Investment in cycling is investment in public health. Better infrastructure will encourage more people to cycle during coronavirus, and enable the years of social distancing we must do until a Covid-19 vaccine is available.”
Cycling and walking is also good for local business, with research completed by Transport for London reporting that the retail spend per square metre of cycle parking, is five times that of the retail spend per square metre of car parking. The research also found people who walk to the high street spend up to 40% more than people who drive to the high street.
Better Ennis have stressed the importance of providing safe, comfortable cycling infrastructure from the outskirts of Ennis town into the centre, and ample, secure bike parking in the town centre itself.

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